Changes to Boiler Upgrade Scheme will ‘make heat pumps easier to install’ – Government

The Government has this week announced changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) which it says will make heat pumps ‘cheaper and easier for families to install’.

Household heating constitutes almost a third of the UK's yearly CO2 emissions, equivalent to the combined emissions of all petrol and diesel cars. Positioned as the low-carbon future for home heating, heat pumps offer a promising solution. To quantify the potential impact, British Gas has developed a calculator. Users can receive a personalized estimate of the CO2 reduction achievable by transitioning from traditional heating systems to modern heat pumps. The tool further provides context by comparing these savings to emissions from typical sources like long-distance flights and carbon-absorbing trees.

Crucially, the changes have removed the mandatory requirement to install cavity wall or loft insulation in order to qualify for the grant.

According to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, this will reduce the costs of switching to a heat pump by around £2,500 for a semi-detached property.

Although homes still need to be properly insulated for energy savings to be achieved, the department says removing the mandatory requirement means families will be able to take advantage of the £7,500 grant towards heat pump installation, and carry out other insulation works at a pace that suits them.

Biomass boilers with an integrated cooking function are now also eligible for support under the scheme.

Energy Security Secretary, Claire Coutinho, said: “We’ve already supported families by making our Boiler Upgrade Scheme one of the most generous in Europe and now we’re making heat pumps even cheaper and easier to install.

“This is all part of our wider plan to ensure we cut our emissions and make homes energy efficient without burdening families with high costs.”

Broad welcome for changes

The changes have been ‘broadly welcomed’ by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Ian Rippin, MCS CEO, said: “We broadly welcome the announced changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in particular answering our calls to allow more consumers to take advantage of a broader choice of low carbon heating.

“Changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme that mean homeowners will no longer need to install cavity wall or loft insulation to access the grant are certainly a positive development, opening up this crucial incentive to a wider potential audience. Regardless of the heat source, a fabric first approach is always the most sensible solution and something we continue to support.

“However, if insulation isn’t a pre-requisite for a boiler then it shouldn’t be for a low carbon heating source. We are hopeful this change empowers consumers and helps bolster confidence in proven technologies.

“Our MCS Biomass Standard includes biomass boilers with integrated cooking functions and so we are pleased that these are now also eligible under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. This change opens up choice to more MCS certified biomass boiler products.

“The MCS certified contractor community continues to grow, with heat pump installations achieving record numbers so far this year, but for the UK to meet its net zero commitments, including reaching the Government target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, we hope to see increased support for homeowners who are keen to make the switch from gas boilers to low carbon heating.”

Thomas Farquhar, co-founder of clean tech start-up, Heatio, said: “The changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme that homeowners will have more choice in how they improve their home and will no longer have to install cavity wall or loft insulation to use the scheme, is definitely welcomed.

“Net zero should be treated as a national security issue. We need to remove the practical and financial barriers that consumers face when wanting to adopt green energy technology in their homes, not make it harder for them.”

Applications to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme have increased since the value of grants was raised from £5,000 to £7,500.

The average monthly number of applications from November last year to January was 39% higher than the monthly average before the uplift.

New rules on gas boiler standards

As well as changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the Government has also announced new rules on gas boiler standards to help cut bills and emissions for those not yet ready to switch to a heat pump.

The changes will introduce improved heating controls on gas boilers from 2026. And from 2028, they will use less energy.

It’s been a busy week for energy announcements, with the Government also revealing planned reforms to the electricity market and proposals to postpone the implementation of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism.

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