How government heat pump funding could actually be slowing down uptake

A Bosch heat pump beside a grey stone wall
Heat pumps are a key part of the Uk Government's commitment to net-zero (Image credit: Worcester Bosch)

A trade association says the UK Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) may have actually hampered the uptake of heat pumps.

Energy UK says the consistent number of BUS vouchers – 30,000 per year – for ground and air source heat pumps could be encouraging customers to put their investment into heat pumps on hold.

It is the latest in a long line of criticisms directed at the BUS, which is a key part of the government's net-zero strategy.

What is the heat pump scheme?

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a government scheme designed to help homeowners in England and Wales afford the upfront costs of installing a heat pump.

The £450m policy provides homeowners with heat pump grants of £5,000 or more with the scheme running until 2028. It operates a first-come, first-served basis to those who meet the eligibility criteria.

Homeowners are required to pay the difference if costs exceed the grant. However, amid soaring energy price rises, switching to a lower carbon heating system could end up reducing your overall bill.

Why is it potentially slowing down uptake?

Speaking to Energy Live News, Energy UK expressed concerns that customers may choose to wait a year to take advantage of the vouchers, potentially slowing down the adoption of the low-carbon tech.

The trade association has suggested that the government should consider additional demand-side policies to boost the sales of heat pumps.

However, in February 2023 the BUS was slammed by a Lords committee which said it has had a “disappointingly low” take-up of grants and it is impossible for low-income households to benefit.

One heating expert went even further, calling the scheme “immoral” in light of the fuel poverty crisis and a “sick dog” that is “best for everyone concerned if it is put down”.

Means-tested assessment suggested to improve numbers

One of the key proposals put forward by Energy UK is the need for consultation on changes to the BUS.

They recommend implementing a means-tested approach to funding, bringing hybrid heat pumps within the scope of the scheme and increasing the level of grants for specific technologies.

In February Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, said: “The Government must quickly address the barriers we have identified to a successful take-up of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in order to help grow the take-up of low-carbon heating systems.

“It is vital they do so if we are going to meet our net-zero ambitions.”

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.