With the planned decrease in the usage of gas as a fuel source, government recently launched the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a new scheme that will give homeowners up to £6,000 towards the cost of an upgrade to low-carbon heating systems. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released its Heat and Buildings Strategy with £450million in funding for heat pumps, both ground source and – more realistic for most people – air source heat pumps.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is designed to transform our energy usage in homes, although government has stopped short from requiring the banning of fossil-fuel boilers. The expectation is that by 2030 heat pumps, and other cleaner technology, will cost the same to run and buy as current gas systems. The other major alternative is hydrogen, which could power some existing systems, but the technology is still in its experimental stage, with products not yet available to buy.
Essentially Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a boiler upgrade scheme, which comes with many associated challenges around upping the spec in existing houses to make them compatible with these heat sources. This is because heat pumps work best in houses with high levels of energy efficiency and insulation.
Fortunately most self built houses are built to a far higher spec than to Building Regulations, which is a set of minimum standards. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is a renaming of the Clean Heat Grant, is available in England and Wales, and is part of a wider £3.9bn funding pot set out in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.
How does this affect self builders?
While homeowners in new builds are not able to apply, self builders are eligible, and will have a three month period in which to apply. In addition, self builders won’t need an Energy Performance Certificate, which is a requirement for existing home owners.
Eligible homeowners will be able to receive government grants for the purchase of low carbon heating systems, with applications running between April 2022 and April 2025. This will replace the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which officially closes next March.
The funding allows for either £5,000 for Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) or £6,000 for Ground Source Heat Pumps (including the rarer Water Source Heat Pumps), with more funding allocated for ASHPs as these are more compatible with most homes, due to space limitations.
In addition, biomass boilers in rural areas with low populations should also qualify for support.
It looks like grants will be on a voucher system that are applied for in advance of installations, with the vouchers – which have a usage date – being redeemed on completion. The scheme will also work on a first-come-first-served availability basis.