Business & Finance

Heat pump uptake slower than expected

  • March 19, 2024
  • 2 min read
Heat pump uptake slower than expected

Uptake of heat pumps to replace boilers is running at half the rate of its expected levels. The public spending watchdog has called for every household to be engaged by the government in the move to clean heating. A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) said that assumptions on consumer demand for heat pumps were optimistic. Heat pumps use electricity to draw heat from the ground, air, or water to heat buildings.

It also questioned public awareness regarding the availability of grants for boiler upgrades that would help make the transition easier from oil and gas-powered boilers amid the ongoing fight against climate change. The home energy sector is responsible for nearly a fifth of the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions at 18%.

The NAO said that just 18,900 of the clean heating units were installed under the grant scheme between May 2022 and December 2023. This is less than half the up to 50,000 that was expected by that point.

Since the grant was increased from £5,000 to £7,500 in September, the number of heat pumps installed in homes had gone up, the NAO added. But its study also reflected doubts over whether this increase would be sustained in the future. It identified two hurdles to increased installation with poor awareness being among them. Cost was the other factor. Despite aid from the grant, heat pumps continue to be expensive, costing as much as four times the price of gas boilers despite the greater efficiency they offer.

The government hopes to install 600,000 a year by 2028 and Sky News reports on divisions among ministers in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). A mechanism to punish boiler manufacturers who fail to meet electric heat pump sales has led to an clash that saw companies raising their prices to offset potential fines for missed targets.

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