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Small step forward for net zero

The Government has announced plans to incentivise people to install low-carbon heating. For consumers in England and Wales, the cost of technologies such as heat pumps is set to come down, with households to benefit from £5,000 government grants through a £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme. 

This is part of more than £3.9 billion of new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings, in line with the government’s confirmed ambition for all new heating systems installed in UK homes from 2035 to be low carbon, or supporting new technologies like hydrogen-ready boilers.The £3.9 billion will fund the next three years of investment through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme. It will also cut carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

New grants of £5,000 will be available from April next year to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low carbon heating systems. The funding aims to see the installation of 90,000 systems over three years. However, the scheme is voluntary, with government assurance that no one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boiler. 

For our industry, a £60 million innovation fund has been launched to make clean heat systems smaller, easier to install and cheaper to run. The government has committed to working with the industry to help meet the aim of heat pumps costing the same to buy and run as fossil fuel boilers by 2030.

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said, “This is a step in the right direction, and should fund 1 in 20 of the government’s commitment to install 600,000 heat pump units per year by 2028. We applaud the £5,000 grant to help kick start the move to low carbon technology, as this will inevitably provide more choice when it comes to replacing ageing heating systems. 

“The good news for those living off grid, is that the Homes Upgrade Grant, launching in April, will be funding insulation (and heat pumps for those suitable that want them) for low income households rated D and below in off-gas grid properties. However, swapping out-dated boilers for heat pumps will still be out of reach for the majority of lower income homeowners. Heat pumps run at considerably lower temperatures to traditional boilers at around 50oC (55oC max), and so homeowners will have to pay for considerable upgrades to insulation if they are to run affordably. As it’s these households who often face the highest heating bills due to a combination of higher tariffs, poorly insulated homes and older, inefficient boilers, its vital they are not left behind.

“The CIPHE would implore government to raise the bar on home insulation with a viable alternative introduced to the Green Homes Grant Scheme. With 66% of existing homes at Energy Performance Certificate D or worse, upgrading energy efficiency is the biggest step we can take to make sure housing is ready for low carbon heating, and should be one of the building blocks for net zero. 

 “The industry also needs support to train up to 100,000 installers in low carbon technologies to ensure systems are designed and installed correctly and efficiently. It is imperative that installers are sufficiently trained to NVQ level 3 or equivalent and be in possession of the CIPHE’s Low Temperature Heating and Hot Water design qualification. The world is watching the UK closely, so it's crucial we have a robust approach to net zero and that the government strategy is one that pulls together the many strands required to make it work.”

For more information on the Low Temperature Heating and Hot Water design qualification, please contact Jerry Whiteley on 01708 463117 or email jerryw@ciphe.org.uk.