The Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, aka BUS, offers homeowners grants of up to £6,000 towards the cost of swapping their fossil fuel heating systems, i.e. gas, oil or direct electric boilers, for a more eco-friendly alternative.
The scheme officially opens for applications and payments from May 23, though installers can register for BUS now and grant funding can be claimed retrospectively back to April 1, 2022. The scheme will run in England and Wales from 2022 to 2025.
You can get £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump, £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump and £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler. The grant will only cover biomass boilers in rural locations and in properties that are not connected to the gas grid.
To qualify you must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate for your house with no recommendations for cavity wall/loft insulation. EPC’s cost about £60 for the average home. To apply, you need to find an MSC certified installer. Visit www.mcscertified.com/find-an-installer who will apply for the grant on your behalf. The value of the grant will be discounted off the price you pay.
Vouchers are valid for three months from issue for air source heat pumps and six months for ground source. The average cost of an air source heat pump is £6,000 to £14,000, while ground source heat pumps start from about £24,000.
The benefit of heat pumps is that they offer a low carbon means of heating your home and, if you team them with solar photo-voltaic panels, you can generate the electricity needed to run the pump. As well as reducing carbon emissions, heat pumps offer a cheaper form of energy for homes in rural areas that are off mains gas grid and rely on oil or LPG for heating.
Running heating and hot water for an average home with a heat pump cost did cost a similar amount to a gas boiler but, according to The Regulatory Assistance Project, a Brussels-based non-profit organisation specialising in the environmental impact of natural gas and power, those who switch from a gas boiler to a very efficient heat pump could now save £261 per year on average.
This finding is based on a study of running costs comparing heat pumps and gas boilers taking Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap announcement that the maximum unit costs for gas will increase by 84 per cent and electricity by 35 per cent this month.
David Halliday decided to have an air source heat pump installed when it was clear his gas boiler was approaching the end of its life. One of the reasons he opted for a renewable source of heat was concerns over climate change.
“We have a smart meter, which also shows how much gas we were using and how much CO2 we were generating. It was almost three tonnes a year, which was staggering,” says David.
He and his wife, who live in a four-bedroom detached house, invested in an air source heat pump from Green Building Renewables just over a year ago. The cost for supply and installation was £14,000.
“The air source heat pump has run faultlessly and generated the heat we needed all through winter. It also provides a steady background heat to the rooms at a set temperature, which is good,” says David. “The cost of running it is similar to when we had the gas boiler but with the price of gas rising that could change and the air source heat pump system will potentially be cheaper to run.”
Here are some facts from Yorkshire-based greenbuildingrenewables.co.uk about air source heat pumps, which most domestic users are likely to opt for.
An air source heat pump is installed outside your home and can be fitted to a wall or placed on the ground. It works by extracting heat from the outside air before converting this low grade heat into usable energy by passing it through a compressor where its temperature is increased. The heat is then used for space heating and hot water. An air source heat pump will work at temperatures as low as -20C outside.
Air source heat pumps produce lower carbon emissions than most fossil fuel appliances. They can convert one kilowatt of electricity into 3.5 kilowatts of heat, meaning they are 350 per cent efficient. An A-rated combination boiler can only turn one kilowatt of gas or oil into 0.9 kilowatts of heat.
It is important to make sure your radiators are sized correctly for your room when they are linked to a heat pump so you may have to invest in larger radiators.
Heat pumps are more efficient than other conventional central heating systems because they operate at a lower flow temperature. This is why radiators must be sized correctly so they can distribute the right amount of heat for your home. Air source heat pumps need servicing once a year.