Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a major shake-up of the government's net zero policies. These include changes to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme for ground or air source heat pumps as well as delays to the rollout of eco-friendly policies.
There has been criticism from manufacturers, which have invested heavily in green technology, but now been told deadlines for a switch-over have been pushed back.
Here we take a look at five key changes that could affect homeowners and what they decide to do (or not do) to their properties.
1. Heat pump grants are increasing to £7,500
It was previously reported that the government were considering changes to the boiler upgrade scheme to boost uptake due to installation figures for ground and air source heat pumps being below government objectives.
Ofgem's latest data shows that only 15% of the available boiler upgrade scheme vouchers have been redeemed this year, with only 13,766 out of the 90,000 available vouchers being used. These figures also echo a recent report indicating that the Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world in its uptake of heat pumps.
Rishi Sunak stated: "The boiler upgrade scheme which gives people cash grants to upgrade their boiler will be increased by 50% to seven and a half thousand pounds. There are no strings attached. The money will never need to be repaid."
Ian Rippin, CEO, MCS, the standards organisation welcomed the news claiming it will make it "easier and more affordable for the average UK customer to transition to low-carbon heating".
He added: "More people will now have the confidence and ability to invest in low-carbon heating and this is an important step forward towards net zero."
2. The gas boiler ban has been delayed
As well as the increase to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, Rishi Sunak also announced a delay to the gas boiler ban, which was initially planned for 2025
He stated he will "give people far more time to make the necessary transition to heat pumps". He claimed he will "never force anyone to rip out their existing boiler and replace it with a heat pump" and the ban would mean most homeowners will have to take out their boilers by 2035, so the change will be less impactful.
Despite welcoming the increase to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, Ian Rippin stated it was "disappointing" to see the deadline extended to 2035. "The most important element of helping consumers make the right, informed, green choice is clarity and moving the goalposts now risks confusing home and business owners about what the right thing to do is," he said.
Dr Matthew Trewhella, the CEO of ground source heat pump company Kensa has called the decision extend the ban on gas boilers as "short-sighted" and “extremely concerning”.
He said: “At a time when we should be scaling up to reach our net zero commitments by injecting investment and stability into green businesses and proven sustainable solutions, our planet’s future is being cynically used as a political bargaining tool.”
“We are making excellent progress towards our vision of a subsidy-free, low carbon heating and cooling future that is greener, cheaper and safer than fossil fuel heating. Stalling this progress would be short-sighted, regressive and deprive the British economy of the billions of pounds of benefits that transitioning to net zero would bring. It will negatively affect consumers by keeping bills higher and homes less efficient. Delaying our transition to net zero in 2050 means future measures will need to be quicker and more drastic.”
3. An oil boiler ban will also be delayed
While the planned oil boiler ban was met with criticism earlier this year as a "ULEZ" on rural homes, this has now been delayed until 2035 as well.
Oil boilers were initially planned to be banned from 2026, but after a consultation on the impact this would have on off-grid homeowners, the deadline has been pushed back. There will also now only be an 80% phase-out target at that date meaning 80% of homes with oil boilers will be expected to have transitioned to alternative heating by 2035.
NIBE who manufacture energy-efficient and sustainable climate solutions put out a statement saying they were "exasperated" by the Prime Minister's decision to delay the phase out of fossil fuel boilers in off grid homes.
They stated: "Heat pumps represent a viable solution that can help us achieve Net Zero - a target that should be a top priority without hesitation or delay.
They added that ground source heat pumps were a "logical solution in off-grid homes using high carbon fossil fuels" but the new scheme covers a lower percentage of their costs compared to other technologies.
They concluded: "The decision to backtrack on targets sends all the wrong signals at a time when we need the green light to pave the way for a net zero future."
4. Diesel and petrol car ban has also been delayed
It was also announced there would be a delay on the ban of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 to 2035.
Richard Burge, chief executive at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "The Government’s decision to suddenly back track and delay the ban on petrol and diesel cars makes us look flaky, unreliable, and incapable of leading the green energy revolution.
“The real world achieves success by sticking to workable plans. We can’t be a pendulum on issues that deter the confidence of our businesses who are key stakeholders on green energy issues.”
Peter Chalkley, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the changes would actually end up costing consumers more.
He said: “The vast majority, 80%, of drivers buy second-hand and second-hand petrol cars that would be on the market for literally decades to come. Delaying this policy will push up the cost of motoring as cheaper second-hand EVs that are much cheaper to run than petrol cars will be less available.”
5. Energy efficiency targets for landlords scrapped
Rishi Sunak has announced a significant shift in policy, pledging to no longer impose energy efficiency targets on homeowners and landlords.
He has assured that he will not compel homeowners to undertake what he refers to as "costly insulation upgrades."
Previously, there were plans to impose fines on landlords who failed to elevate their properties to specific energy efficiency standards, but these measures have now been discarded.
While this decision will provide immediate relief to landlords, sparing them from the expenses associated with insulating properties they don't live in, it may result in increased costs for renters.
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.