When Graham Davidson and his wife, Pauline, retired to a bungalow in Norfolk three years ago they ripped out the old boiler and replaced it with an air source heat pump at a cost of £10,000. But this pricey replacement has turned into a moneyspinner for the Davidsons – and millions of British households are likely to follow suit in what is expected to be a revolution in home heating.
Davidson, 68, who used to work in the car electronics business, says it was financial gain rather than saving the planet that was at the forefront of his decision. But dumping the gas boiler has probably cut his household carbon emissions by more than half.
The couple took advantage of the government’s renewable heat incentive scheme, which will be worth a total of £7,000 to the Davidsons in quarterly payments over seven years. On top of that, they say their total home energy bills have fallen by up to £1,000 a year. Given that a new gas boiler would have cost about £3,000, the Davidsons reckon they will eventually save thousands of pounds.
Last week the government set a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year in the UK by 2028 as it launched its “green industrial revolution”. It told housebuilders that in only three years’ time they will be forbidden from installing gas boilers in new homes and will have to put in a heat pump instead.
This is an extraordinarily fast-paced change; last year of the 1.6m boilers installed in the UK, only about 25,000 were heat pumps and the rest were traditional gas units.