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£8,000 to replace a boiler

As an example of how the Climate Change Committee’s targets fail to mesh with reality, consider how our homes are to be heated. To achieve its target of decommissioning gas boilers, the committee advises they be replaced by heat pumps. It further calculates that 600,000 of these devices will need to be installed every year for the next five years.

Leaving aside the question of whether there are enough engineers to accomplish this and how many properties are suitable, the upfront costs are eye-watering. Compared to a replacement gas boiler (between £1,000 and £3,000), an air source heat pump can cost between £8,000 and £14,000 to buy and have installed, with ground source heat pumps coming in at anywhere between £28,000 and £49,000.

Should you be one of the households who can contemplate this level of expense, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme will offer a £5,000 grant, set to run until 2025. Unfortunately the funding for this programme runs out once 90,000 boilers have been replaced.

Aside from cost other factors contributing to a reluctance to switch are noisiness (air source heat pumps, the only choice for people living without adjoining land), and the additional cost of upgrading insulation and radiator systems. Subsequent savings on heating bills cannot be guaranteed.

The government says it expects huge demand will bring down the price of heat pumps eventually, but there’s no hard evidence for that belief and it won’t do much for ancillary installation costs.