House of Lords: Boiler Upgrade Scheme is failing to deliver

The UK Government’s initiative to assist households in switching to low-carbon heating systems is in urgent need of improvement, according to a new inquiry. 

The Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee has concluded its assessment of the project, which looks to replace older home boilers with heat pumps and other green options. At the current rate of uptake, only half of the allocated budget for household grants will be used this year, and the overall target of 600,000 installations by 2028 is unlikely to be met.

A number of conclusions have been published this week, identifying where the scheme rollout has gone wrong. These include a lack of public awareness around low-carbon heating systems, a shortage of heat-pump installers and insufficient independent advice for eligible customers, and misleading information on the viability of domestic hydrogen systems. Elsewhere, prohibitive upfront costs, even when grant funding is taken into account, and a lack of progress to reform the energy market, in turn reducing low-carbon heat running costs, were also criticised. 

‘The transition to low-carbon heat is fundamental in the path to net zero, given that 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our homes,’ said Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee. ‘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.’ 

A number of recommendations on how to improve the current scheme have also been made, with the Government called to: 

*Offer more clarity on low-carbon home heating options to both consumers and the industry through consistent policy framework, household advice and public communications 

*Roll over the remainder of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme budget from Year One into Year Two (2023-24) and launch a review into how this initiative could be extended further

*Amend and improve the Energy Performance Certificates methodology to accurately reward households for switching to low-carbon systems, removing flawed recommendations 

*Improve current Government advice, and recognise the potential for independent retrofit consultants and coordinators to help consumers navigate low-carbon market options 

*Relax Permitted Development Rights requirements on where to site a heat pump, specifically in terms of proximity to neighbouring houses

In December, Environment Journal reported on UK energy regulator Ofgem’s five-year vision for transitioning to low-carbon power, including heating. Find out more about this here.




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