Lack of Government publicity lead to the failure of the boiler upgrade scheme

Research by renewable energy authority, The Eco Experts has found that the Government’s lack of promotion of the boiler upgrade scheme was the main factor behind the failure of the scheme.

The scheme offered £5,000 towards an air source heat pump, £6,000 towards a ground source heat pump or £5,000 towards a biomass boiler, figures which roughly represented a 50% saving on installation costs.

Two air source heat pump units installed on a modern house

In 2021, 55,000 heat pumps were installed, a rate of progress that would mean the government’s target of 600,000 installations would be met in 2080.

The problem, as identified by The Eco Experts is not that people are uninterested in air source heat pumps but that they have been unaware of the government scheme. Google Trends data shows that the former has attracted notable interest over the last year but the number of searches for the upgrade scheme was minimal.

In 2022, Google searches for ‘air source heat pumps’ in the UK peaked at 100 in the middle of December. Yet searches for the ‘boiler upgrade scheme’ during the same year was significantly lower, with searches for the scheme reaching a high of just 15 in early April 2022. The term ‘heat pump grant’ also experienced a low search volume in 2022, with its highest search score reaching  just 28 at the end of April.

Given that the scheme was only launched in May, it is remarkable that the search term was more popular before the launch than after.

The Eco Experts researcher Josh Jackman commented: ‘The government has failed the public and the planet by refusing to publicise its own Boiler Upgrade Scheme in a year when consumer interest around air source heat pumps has reached peak popularity. This new data highlights the government’s two-faced approach to its climate targets: introduce a grant to tick a box, then neglect it completely.

‘After ending the plug-in grant and Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive in 2022, this deliberate abandonment of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme takes the government’s record on providing UK households with energy-saving and affordable technology to a new low’.

Sir John Armitt, the chairman of The National Infrastructure Commission also commented this week: ‘Government comes forward with these big ideas, but what you don’t see is the necessary detail to back that up.’



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1 year ago

I fail to understand why biomass boilers should be included. They must emit at least some fine particulate air pollution? And how can anyone be sure the pellets are from a truly sustainable low-carbon wood source? As all wood burning emits CO2, why can’t off-grid rural homes use propane gas tanks instead? I don’t see that biomass burning is an improvement in any way. But I agree it is a great shame the government hasn’t promoted air source heat pumps properly. The public does not (yet) understand the technology and there are many adverse comments and poorly written articles about heat pumps on the internet. They should have been promoted as a very clean and healthy way to heat your home. And if we had more UK companies involved, and more heat pump engineers, then the price would have come down by now. Our government has not been serious about this. On the other hand, air source heat pumps are quite noisy and do need space, so perhaps not ideal for terraced houses?

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