Rural Homes Will Be Forced To Install Unaffordable Heat Pumps

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By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness

More than two-thirds of people living in off-grid rural homes fear they would not be able to afford a heat pump if required to install one, a survey found.

Nearly 70 per cent of households said they would not be able to afford £15,000-30,000 to install a heat pump if their boiler breaks down after 2026, when the Government plans to ban new boiler installations in off-grid homes, the data show.

There are around four million homes in the UK that use heating oil or liquid gas, almost all of them in rural areas.

Fuel poverty rates among these households are 43 per cent higher than on-grid homes, affecting half a million households, and nearly half of residents are over-65.

Rural off-grid homes have faced soaring energy costs as the price of oil and liquid gas has risen in recent months, and they were originally left out of the Government’s bills support scheme.

Nearly 60 per cent of off-grid households think the 2026 new gas boiler ban, which is nine years earlier than that proposed for homes on the grid, is unfair and should be scrapped, according to the poll of 1,000 people commissioned by Liquid Gas UK, which represents domestic heating fuel suppliers.

Its figures for heat pump conversion costs for off-grid homes are higher than the Government’s own estimate of between £12,000 to £24,000.

Government modelling suggests around 80 per cent of off-grid homes do not need an extensive retrofit to accommodate a low temperature heat pump, which works like a refrigerator in reverse.

Plans to ban new fossil fuel boilers in these homes are currently being consulted on by the Government, which has said it intends to move ahead with the 2026 deadline.

David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West said: “The owners of off-grid homes are in danger of becoming the losers in the race to net zero. Off-grid properties, many of which are poorly insulated, are harder to heat by the methods currently preferred by the Government.”

Liquid Gas UK said its figures on the cost of retrofitting homes came from analysis by energy consultancy Ecuity which was commissioned by the trade body.

Whether the cost is £24000 or £30000 hardly matters – either way heat pumps will be totally unaffordable for anybody but the ultra wealthy.  About 1.1 million homes are off grid.

In fact, the government’s consultation goes much further than simply a ban on fossil fuel boilers. Below is the relevant section in their consultation, which was published in October 2021, and closed in January 2022:

So in addition to a ban, the new regulations or laws will also require that heat pumps are fitted where practical to do so, or installation another low-carbon alternative where not.

This  is how they will do it:

This really  is quite astonishing. It is one thing banning a certain heating system, but it is a gross infringement of our basic rights to dictate what systems we must install, regardless of whether we can afford them or not. And this even extends to being forced to spend thousands on insulation if needed for heat pumps to be effective,

They talk of alternatives, but ground source heat pumps are even more expensive and I am not aware of any district heating systems in the middle of the countryside!

There are some houses which simply are not suitable for normal heat pumps, but they will not escape government diktat either:

Biomass boilers cost between £13000 and £25000, according to the document, so these will not be affordable either; in any event it sounds as if they will be strictly rationed  in order to be sustainable. And the high temperature heat pumps mentioned cost even more to buy and run than the low temperature versions we are used to.

This will likely be the template for on-grid homes when the gas boiler ban takes effect in 2035. We will all be given the choice of freezing to death or forking out tens of thousands!

One final comment; the report contains this:

We are usually told  by the heat pump lobby that air source heat pumps operate at about 300% efficiency. Now the government admits it is much less, at 244%.

Ignore the costings provided, as these were based on 2021 pricing. But at current prices, the heat pump would cost £2028 pa to run, compared to £1530 for a gas boiler.

When will the public wake up to this nightmare?