Personal Finance

New warning over plan to axe gas boilers for noisy heat pumps – ‘you'll hear them all day'


Installing air source heat pumps can cost up to £20,000 in older properties, while some homeowners have been quoted £30,000. They may also be less efficient in cold weather, and generate a lot more noise, too.

Heating experts are pouring cold water on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to replace the nation’s 25 million gas boilers as part of his “net zero” climate change plan.

Our homes are responsible for 40 percent of the UK’s carbon emissions, and switching to electric air source heat pumps could help the shift away from fossil fuels like gas, green campaigners are arguing.

Air source heat pumps will reduce carbon emissions but are being thrust upon us at a time when every penny counts, said Andrew Pinder, founder of Pinder Cooling and Heating

“They are extremely expensive to fit in an older property, a cost that nobody needs right now,” he said.

Pinder also warned that heat pumps are less efficient in very cold weather and take time to warm homes to the desired temperature.

Pumps are far from appealing to have around, either. “Condensing units on the side of people’s houses and fans consistently running making loud noises aren’t exactly experiences to enjoy.”

Pinder added: “The systems are designed to run constantly, so to achieve and maintain desired temperatures you can very much expect to be hearing those fans all day.”

The technology works better in new-builds, but most of us don’t live in them. “Those likely to benefit from the installation of an air source heat pump are few and far between. They are just not cut out for retro fit to existing properties,” he said.

READ MORE: New plan to ban gas boilers could make your home UNSELLABLE

The Government offers a £5,000 grant to encourage switching under the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme but Pinder warned this is not enough. “Without further grants or financial support people won’t be able to carry out the necessary installation.”

The government should focus its heat pump effort on new-build properties, said Jack McGovern, director of heating engineers The Glow Group. “Existing homeowners can be looking at costs between £10,000 and £14,000. If you are paying any less, I would be concerned about the quality of installation, the likely running costs and the unit’s lifespan.”

McGovern said heat pumps can work for some households, but cautioned against a race to install them in millions of older homes. “We need a bespoke approach. There is no one size fits all.”

Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, is also sceptical. “Some of the options put forward to achieve net zero homes involve eye-watering sums of money, which frankly, people do not have.”

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Faisal Hussain, managing director of QA Scheme Support Services and chief executive of the HIES Consumer Code, said installation costs are high because radiators will generally need replacing. “Heat pumps run at a lower temperature, so need bigger radiators.”

He said “microbore” pipework may also need replacing as they are too narrow, adding to the cost. “Lastly, hot water tanks will also need replacing because with heat pumps you need specific type of hot water tank.”

He said heat pumps have been tried and tested across Europe for years, including in many commercial buildings in the UK. 

They can work in the right home, but there are too many exceptions. “Some won’t work because the house is too old or doesn’t have sufficient insulation, or because people living there need it to be super warm.”

Plans to axe gas boilers have generated fury but there are no easy solutions in the fight to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions.





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