The government also confirmed a further £3.9bn of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings, including the boiler scheme, so homes and buildings are warmer, cheaper to heat and cleaner to run, it said. The scheme will provide households with £5,000 grants when they switch to an air source heat pump or £6,000 when they switch to a ground source pump.
This comes as the UK prepares to host the UN COP26 summit next week, where the Prime Minister will call on other world economies to set out their own domestic plans for cutting emissions.
However, although up to 25m UK homes have gas boilers, the grants will fund just 90,000 pumps over three years, according to the BBC.
Critics including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace say the plan does not go far enough.
Homeowners will be encouraged to switch to a heat pump or other low-carbon technology when their current boiler needs replacing, not before and an air-source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type installed and the size of a property. However, the government said it plans to reduce the costs of installing a heat pump by at least 25-50 per cent by 2025 and to ensure heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers by 2030.
The government plans to phase out the installation of new natural gas boilers from 2035.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK’s path to ending our contribution to climate change will be paved with well-paid jobs, billions in investment and thriving green industries – powering our green industrial revolution across the country.
“By moving first and taking bold action, we will build a defining competitive edge in electric vehicles, offshore wind, carbon capture technology and more, whilst supporting people and businesses along the way.”
However, Ross Boyd, CEO of Dashly said: “Boris’s announcement is yet more hot air and cynical greenwashing in the lead up to COP26. While offering a grant to fund green improvements to homes is in the right ball park, many are rightly stating that £5,000 simply isn’t enough for the majority of people to make their homes greener in a meaningful way.
“Meanwhile the mortgage industry has been sitting on the answer all along. Lenders know the green profiles of properties and can easily fund genuinely green boilers through a properly tailored mortgage that has both the consumer and the environment at its heart.”
David Whittaker, CEO of specialist buy-to-let lender Keystone Property Finance, said: “Keystone offers its own range of green mortgages, which offer a discounted rate to landlords who upgrade the EPC rating on their home to C or above.
“The Government’s plans to offer up to £5,000 to homeowners to install heat pumps smacks of half-baked opportunism. This administration has spoken many times of bringing about a new ‘green industrial revolution’ but, as yet, we haven’t seen any worthwhile actions to back up the rhetoric. Housing emits nearly 20 per cent of all greenhouse gases in the UK and so we need an all-encompassing, joined-up plan to upgrade the nation’s property stock. Offering money to help homeowners swap their inefficient gas boiler for an energy efficient heat pump is a start, but it is not a silver bullet.”
“I’d like nothing more than for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver a bold Budget next week in which he announces a genuine vision to retrofit UK homes. It’s over to you, Mr Chancellor.”