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News 22 February 2023

Our response to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme inquiry

Today, the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee has concluded that the UK Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme is failing to deliver on its objectives.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme was launched in May 2022, aiming to kickstart the decarbonisation of homes in England and Wales by providing grants to replace fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps.

However, according to the Lords committee, take-up of the scheme has been ‘disappointingly low’. The committee highlighted that upfront costs and lack of public awareness and independent advice are some of the barriers that need to be overcome as the scheme continues. 

Mike Thornton, chief executive at Energy Saving Trust, said:

“The findings of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee Boiler Upgrade Scheme inquiry are unfortunately not a surprise.

“The introduction of the incentive was and remains a hugely positive step. If all UK homes with gas boilers switched to heat pumps, the savings in wholesale gas costs would be equivalent to 1.2% of GDP, according to Nesta. As 85% of our homes are connected to the gas grid, the electrification of heat is also vital to rapidly reducing carbon emissions in the transition to net zero.

“But key policy gaps remain and more needs to be done to help people access grants and low-cost finance to address the upfront costs of switching to heat pumps. Until both the cost of installing and running a heat pump are consistently competitive with, or better than, a gas boiler, higher upfront costs and affordability will remain significant barriers. Moving levies from electricity bills and delivering wholesale market reforms will also be crucial to bring down running costs and maximise the benefits of low-cost renewable electricity generation.

“Every home is different and installing a new heating system can be complex. To support people in adopting low carbon heating technologies, the UK Government must address the lack of comprehensive, independent and tailored advice. This is needed in order to give people clear direction and support to better understand how to insulate their homes and reduce the energy they use, while also transitioning to low carbon heating. 

“To make the scheme the success the country needs, the UK Government must prioritise closing these gaps in the delivery of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, including investing any unspent funds back into the scheme and extending it beyond three years to provide certainty for consumers, the supply chain and investors.”

Last updated: 22 February 2023