“A Boiler Upgrade Scheme to kit out British households with highly-efficient, low carbon and affordable electrified heat makes a lot of sense, as we move away from gas. Our new campaign of energy companies, trade associations and consumer groups will work with the Government and with local authorities to get overall costs falling asap, in line with this vison. Get it right and, as the Government notes, we could definitely see more than 140,000 high quality jobs in installation and manufacturing by the early 2030s.”
Lead Spokesman, Electrify Heat
As the heat pump vision is laid out, here are Electrify Heat’s ‘hot takes’ on how we can start translating promises into practice straight away.
The race to electrify heat has got off the starting blocks with last week’s Heat & Buildings Strategy, backed at the highest level with the Prime Minister promising everyone in the country that the next time their boiler packs up, an electric heat pump will be the affordable, common-sense replacement.
This will be backed by actions to make installation cheaper, with £5,000 grants being made available next year, and running costs lower. But industry has a huge role to play as well, in ensuring we meet the Government’s pledge that, overall, heat pumps will be no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers by 2030.
The Strategy begins us on a direction of travel to meet – or exceed – the Government’s target to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, with a 30-fold increase in UK manufacturing over the same timeframe. The plan to stop installing fossil gas boilers by 2035 sends a signal both to industry and to households. This will kick in even sooner for homes off the gas-grid who currently use the most polluting heating systems, who will be replacing their systems with low-carbon alternatives from 2026. All this points to big growth in the market for heat pumps.
The Strategy contains a lot of welcome promises, but how can we translate these into practice in the near term? Here are three areas where we can get started:
Creating high-quality green jobs
The clean heat revolution needs all hands to the pump! The Heat Pump Association says we will need over 50,000 installers by 2030, and the Government estimates we can create 10,000 manufacturing-related UK jobs. This is a huge nationwide opportunity to create secure, high-quality jobs, all over the United Kingdom. A focus on retraining can ensure a smooth transition for those currently working on gas networks and gas boilers but we’ll also need new training packages and incentives to encourage engineers to make the switch. High quality training can ensure high quality installation – which will be essential for building trust among households that they’re in safe hands. Ensuring we train up the installers and experts needed to meet an expected surge in demand is a major priority for our campaign.
Driving demand by spreading awareness and building trust
Some elements of the climate transition take place behind the scenes – such as decarbonising the power sector – but the clean heat transition takes place in people’s homes. Therefore, people need to be confident that they can and will get to grips with new heating systems. There are certain elements of this already in place, but we still need a nationwide awareness drive – backed up by a nation-wide network of one-stop shops in town and city centres offering impartial and expert advice – to get households up to speed through ‘show and tell’, with advice and support available, accessible to all. This in turn will get drive customer demand, alongside sweeteners such as grants, affordable finance and other incentives (such as 0% VAT on green products).
Stop penalising people for using clean electricity
At the moment, polluting fossil gas is cheaper than clean electricity – in part due the way that energy bills are structured. Around a quarter of the cost of electricity is made up of eco-levies. It’s time to reward customers for shifting away from imported gas and towards homegrown renewable electricity. Needless to say, low-income households must be supported through changes to ensure everyone can afford a warm and healthy home.
There’s a lot of work to be done, but the direction of travel couldn’t be clearer. Electrify Heat is excited to work with its members, industry, unions, installers, engineers, households and Government to translate promises into practice. The future starts now – one heat pump at a time.