Households warned they may face fine if they refuse to replace gas boilers with heat pumps under new proposal

Person installing gas boiler

Households could have to pay a fine if they refuse to replace their gas boiler with heat pumps, it's proposed

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 28/11/2023

- 11:14

The financial penalties would be used to help to pay for a green energy transition, it’s been proposed

Homeowners who refuse to replace their gas boilers with heat pumps on environmental grounds could face financial penalties, according to new proposals in Scotland.

Scottish residents could be taxed using council tax and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – the Scottish equivalent to stamp duty – to “promote behavioural change”.

The proposals have been outlined in a task force report ahead of a Scottish government consultation which will be launched this week.

The consultation document, which is being announced by Green Party co-leader and the zero carbon buildings minister Patrick Harvie, is expected to set out when homeowners will need to replace boilers with systems that do not burn fossil fuels.

Heat pump

It's been suggested LBTT could be hiked for the purchase of properties which have lower energy efficiency ratings


In a new report, it’s been suggested local authorities could impose a council tax “premium” on households which fail to switch to zero emissions heating systems, such as heat pumps.

Another suggestion is the possibility of hiking LBTT for the purchase of properties which have lower energy efficiency ratings.

The taskforce said the two taxes “offer the potential to influence home owner and purchaser decisions around investing in energy efficiency and ZDEH solutions”.

However, Douglas Lumsden, the Scottish Conservative shadow net zero secretary, told the Sunday Herald: “This smacks of total desperation by the SNP-Green government.

“After ditching previous plans – such as making it illegal to sell your house if it had a boiler – as unrealistic and unaffordable, they’re now peddling this equally daft scheme.”

He added: “Trying to finance subsidies to fit heat pumps by fining people who don’t fit heat pumps is bonkers.

"And Scottish taxpayers foot the bill either way round.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We will respond to the recommendations following publication of the taskforce’s second report next year, and this week we will publish proposals that could form part of a Heat in Buildings Bill, to help deliver our commitment to be a net zero country by 2045 and reduce the exposure felt by households and businesses to volatile fossil fuel prices.”

The average upfront costs of installing a heat pump significantly outweigh the typical costs of replacing a gas boiler.

However, according to Which?, switching to a heat pump could mean annual energy bills are cheaper.

Which? also points out homeowners may be able to access grants and funding to help with heat pump installation.

A strategy published by Scottish government ministers in 2021 said the average cost of installing a heat pump is around £10,000 – four times the typical £2,500 cost of a new fossil-fuel boiler.

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