Heat pumps are a waste of time - the more we force it down throats the more people say NO - we need to listen, says John Redwood MP

John Redwood and heat pump in pictures

Heat pumps are not proving popular among members of the public, writes John Redwood

John Redwood

By John Redwood

Published: 20/03/2024

- 12:13

Updated: 20/03/2024

- 14:43

John Redwood MP calls for green products which people want to buy, rather than heat pumps, in an exclusive op-ed for GB News members

Heat pumps are not proving popular with the public.

The more politicians tell people they are the answer, the more people say not for me.

The idea of a heat pump is to pump and extract heat from the air or earth.

When all is functioning well the heat pump can generate three times as much heat energy as the electrical energy it uses. It is therefore said to be a green product.

The trouble is things do not always work so well.

The colder it gets the less efficient the heat pump becomes. The colder it gets the warmer people want the heating system to be.

If it gets very cold, a heat pump system may need to boost warmth through a backup electric heating element.

Some people who put in a heat pump think it is colder than using a gas boiler.

Heated water from a gas boiler can be set between 60 and 80 degrees. The water heated by a heat pump may be considerably lower in temperature than that, though the radiators can still heat the room.

The heat pump may not reduce carbon dioxide as much as the green campaigners imply.

Anyone adding a heat pump today in the UK is likely to be drawing power from a gas power station, as we are already using all the renewable power we produce so additional demand is likely to require fossil fuel generation pending a big expansion of renewables.

The saving in CO2 then rests on the efficiency of the heat pump. Gas is still being burned in the power station, and there will be energy loss from generation and transmission.

Heat pumps are proving a hard sell for a variety of reasons.

They are much dearer than simply replacing your old gas boiler with a new one. Even after allowing for taxpayer subsidy of £7,500 they are still usually dearer.

As electricity is considerably dearer than gas, the heat pump can also be dearer to run than a gas boiler despite its greater energy efficiency.

Many people are apprehensive about how much work would need to be done for their home to get a heat pump to work well.

To be warm with a heat pump, it is recommended that a home should have improved levels of insulation.

This can prove difficult and expensive, especially in one of the many older homes in the UK built before enhanced insulation standards were mandatory.

You may be able to keep your existing radiators and pipework, but in some cases, these will need replacing to get to the temperatures you want.


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People's caution on heat pumps is understandable, given the amount of work involved in installation which is disruptive and the possible costs.

Instead of looking for more subsidies and rules to assist heat pumps, and more taxes and bans to stop gas boilers, there needs to be more work on improving the heat pump offer.

There also needs to be decisions about other ways of decarbonising home heating.

Switching existing and new boilers to synthetic fuels or hydrogen, or increasing the proportion of no and low carbon fuel in existing gas may be an easier and cheaper way of proceeding.

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