In September, Rishi Sunak announced a delay to the UK’s immediate plans for decarbonisation. Among other things, the phase-out of fossil-fuelled boilers has been pushed back five years to reduce the financial burden on property owners. At the same time, Government grants for heat pump installations have been increased. We discuss what this means for consumers and installers.
Rishi Sunak’s recent announcement that the Government is pushing back its targets for phasing out petrol and diesel cars has not gone down well in all quarters, but it is a recognition that, particularly in a cost of living crisis, the average person on the street is unable to shoulder the financial burden. High interest rates, food prices and other costs are staying stubbornly high, and upgrading to a heat pump system is not high on everyone’s priority list when demands on income are only just covering the basics in some cases.
The Government remains committed to total decarbonisation by 2050, but the pledge to ban fossil fuel heating systems by 2030 has been delayed by five years to 2035. At the same time, there is more financial help available for property owners to switch from fossil fuel, something that can only be a good thing.
Increase in Government grants is welcome news
From 23 October, the Government grants that property owners can get towards changing from fossil fuel systems to air and ground source heat pumps has increased. A grant for an air source heat pump has gone up from £5,000 to £7,500 and for a ground source system from £6,000 to £7,500. This includes water-source heat pumps and those on shared ground loops. The grants apply to anyone who owns the property, domestic or certain commercial properties, but not to those who rent or who are in social housing. Self-build properties are also eligible if the homeowner can prove they built the property themselves (or employed a contractor) and that they still have ownership.
If we are to face the challenge of climate change head-on, and if we are to be able to make our own positive contribution to decarbonisation, the increase to these grants is good news for homeowners. The will to change is there, but the financial considerations are real.
Take advice from an expert
There are, of course, some exemptions and conditions to who can receive a grant. Only one grant is available per property and there is no grant available for hybrid heating systems, that is, those that use a combination of both heat pumps and a gas boiler. The property owner must also have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and have no outstanding recommendations for loft or cavity wall insulation.
If it sounds a bit complicated, then rest assured that there are experts out there who can help homeowners and give the right advice. For consumers who are looking to change, it is important that they engage the services of an accredited, experienced installer. They will be aware of the rules and regulations that apply to heat pump installations and will do a full assessment of the property before recommending the right system. They will also be able to give full advice about what grants are available, and how to apply for them.
For installation companies, being a HIES installer puts you in the best position to advise your customers. At HIES we want to ensure that our members have access to the latest Government advice and regulations, so they can be confident that they have full knowledge to hand. Having HIES accreditation engenders trust among homeowners, and is a boost to gaining new business.
Consumer protection in place
The change from a gas-fuelled boiler to a heat pump system can seem daunting. The systems are relatively new, the technology is different, and homeowners need to be confident that making the change is right for them, and a good use of their money. By using a HIES installer, consumers benefit from deposit and stage payment protection (up to 25% of the contract value, maximum £5,000), insurance backed guarantees on completion of the project, alternative dispute resolution and a consumer advice line.
Our best advice to any consumer is to find an installer through HIES. For installers, being a HIES member gives you support and backing to help build your business and capitalise on this growing sector.