But only 90,000 of the UK’s 22 million gas-heated households will benefit from £5,000 government subsidies to replace traditional gas boilers with green heat pumps. 

What is Happening?

Starting from next April, households in the United Kingdom will be offered £5,000 governmental subsidies to install electric heat pumps over the next three years as part of the country’s net zero transition by 2050. 

As part of the administration’s long-awaited “Heat and Buildings Strategy”, the government has announced they will allocate £450m from a wider £3.9bn funding package designed to help decarbonise British homes.

British households currently account for more than a fifth of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions. Gas heating systems, particularly traditional and old gas boilers, are a significant contributor to national emissions. 

Under the new plan, the government aims to encourage and incentivise more homeowners to install green heating systems, powered either by low-carbon technology or fuels including hydrogen. But the newly announced subsidies are only enough to replace about 30,000 gas boilers each year and cover 90,000 out of the 22 million households that currently have a gas heating system installed. 

An air-source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000. While UK ministers say the subsidies will make green heat pumps a comparable price to a new gas boiler. Many environmental groups criticised the allocated funds as being not nearly near enough to meet net zero targets and that its current plan to be insufficient. 

“Sadly the government has stopped short of what’s required to transform our housing into the clean, affordable, energy efficient homes that we all want and need to be living in.” said Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner Caroline Jones. “Housing is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise but the government is making it all the more difficult by leaving half its tools in the toolbox, with unambitious policies and inadequate funding.”

Critics say the government should accelerate the timeline in banning the sale of new gas boilers, which is currently set as late as 2035 with no concrete plans to ban them outright. 80% of all new heat installations in the country would need to be green and low-carbon by the end of the decade in order to meet the legally-binding 2050 climate goals, according to experts. This amounts to about 1 million replacement and installation a year.

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