Gas boilers banned in Scotland but heat pumps ‘not the silver bullet needed' to meet Net Zero

Gas boilers banned in Scotland but heat pumps ‘not the silver bullet needed' to meet Net Zero

The Ofgem energy price cap has fallen from this month

Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 10/04/2024

- 14:54

Updated: 10/04/2024

- 22:35

Heat pumps are considered a vital technology needed to help society reach Net Zero, as well as bring down energy bills long-term but experts are warning current targets are not being met

Gas boilers are now banned from being installed in new-build homes in Scotland but experts are warning their replacements are not the “silver bullet” needed to reduce carbon emissions.

Households are being encouraged to swap traditional boilers for heat pumps as part of the wider societal push to Net Zero with support being provided by the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

However, heating engineers are highlighting the UK is falling short of reaching the 600,000 a year target for heat pump installations.

This is despite some hailing heat pumps as the future of home heating going forward, with research suggesting they are three to four times more efficient than other heating options, such as LPG, oil, electricity, and gas boilers.

Research carried out by Heatpumps London found the UK currently has just 412 heat pumps per 100,000 people.

Some 56 per cent of builders say they lack sufficient information to advise on cleaner alternatives to traditional gas boilers, a survey from Fix Radiofound.

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Man on laptop and heat pump

Heat pump targets are not being met, according to experts


Meanwhile, 44 per cent of builders said that they would not recommend heat pumps due to unawareness of their full benefits.

Around half of housebuilders in the UK believe heat pumps remain too expensive for the average household to install.

Some 11 per cent of builders are unaware of the financial support available through the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Recently, the Government rolled back its plans to introduce a “boiler tax” to encourage heat pump installations.

It would have seen boiler manufacturers hit with charges if they were unable to meet the Government’s heat pump targets, but experts warned this levy would be passed onto consumers.

Speaking to Fix Radio, heating engineer John Cruickshank highlighted why this decision-making is causing further issues in attempts to address the energy crisis.

Mr Cruickshank explained: “It’s not the silver bullet that we’re all looking for, but with the energy crisis and living standards, it’s very difficult. I don’t know how the government will get 150,000 heat pump engineers trained in time to fit the 600,000 they want because there is no direction.

“The Government initially said if you have a level two in plumbing and water rigs, you could go for a heat pump, yet it took me 18 months to two years to train in heat pumps.

“These are issues we should have been talking about 20 years ago, but we’ve now come to a point where we’re approaching deadlines which keep getting pushed back.

"The Government never seems to consider the people who are on the ground who carry out this work.”


Energy bill statement

Energy bill payers have been forced to pay more in recent years with heat pumps being cited as a potential solution


Despite these warnings, David Cowdrey, the director of External Affairs at the MCS Foundation, believes heat pumps are the future.

He said: “Gas and oil heating systems in new homes should be a thing of the past, and the new building regulations in Scotland are addressing that today.

“Heat pumps are the only viable solution for getting homes off fossil fuels at scale, and will have the benefit of reducing energy bills in all new-build homes.

“The Government in Westminster should now follow the lead of Holyrood and make heat pumps the default heating systems for all new homes in England, as Scotland is leading the way.”

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