Bummer: The UK Is Having A Tough Time Forcing People To Switch To Heat Pumps

It’s not like they are a lot more expensive than natural gas and electricity home and water heating units, right? Why aren’t all the Warmists rushing out to get them?

The UK is sabotaging its own plan to decarbonize heating

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) are seen as a crucial tool in the fight against climate change; one that the UK has decided to loudly champion. The technology, which can provide hot water and space heating for homes, is far more efficient that the natural gas systems it’s intended to replace. In November 2020, the country announced a target of 600,000 heat pump installations, per year, by 2028. But the way that the UK currently funds its renewable energy projects means that, for many, adopting a heat pump is not financially viable.


And these devices, which use electricity rather than gas to run, are significantly more energy efficient than traditional electric heating. “Heating your home is between 60 to-70 percent of your energy bill,” says Matt Clemow, CEO of Igloo Energy. But some heat pumps, including the one that Clemow has in his own home, are significantly more energy-efficient than natural gas.

There are, however, challenges to heat pumps, including the fact that they require a very different operation pattern to traditional gas boilers. Because they output a lower temperature, they need to run continuously. “You generally don’t have that on-off period in the same way,” said Clemow, “it’s more background heat.” This is, broadly, how most air conditioning systems work, something that very few Brits use at home.

What’s providing the electricity?

Because of the different climates and energy mixes, it’s not easy to map the European situation onto the American one. The federal government does, however, offer a $300 tax credit for householders who install Energy Star-certified ASHPs, offering more generous discounts for ground source heat pumps like Alphabet’s Dandelion, which draw and circulate heat from underground. Individual states offer their own incentives, dependent on the system you install and the applicant’s income.

$300, you American folks! $300!

But encouraging householders to make the switch from their natural gas-fired boilers is going to be difficult. The initial cost is far higher than the price of just installing a new gas-fired boiler, which will put off many would-be adopters. Then, there is the way the UK structures its energy levies, with a far greater burden on electricity over natural gas. Charges levied onto the sale of electricity in the UK include paying for the cost of the country’s smart meter rollout, bankrolling renewable energy projects and offering cash incentives for people to adopt home energy efficiency technologies.

Far higher

A new heat pump can cost between $3,875 to $7,625 depending on the size of your home, energy efficient ratings, brand name, and the type of heat pump you install. A mini split ductless heat pump with 4 multi zone indoor air handler units could cost up to $10,000 to install. 

You can get an electric or gas one installed for much less. In pure fairness, a heat pump is vastly more efficient that an electric or gas furnace/water heater. But, you are pretty much having to replace the one already there that you already paid for. Back to original article

The sales pitch for many clean(er) technologies often focuses on the total cost of ownership being dramatically lower, even if the initial outlay is higher. If you’ve ever spoken to a Tesla owner, you’ll likely have heard about how little each vehicle costs to run. Similarly, when speaking with solar panel installers, the talk is often about how much money you stand to make (or at least save) compared to your existing solution. That conversation, says Clemow, is the wrong way to sell people on the future of heat pumps.

Well, yeah, because most people cannot afford Teslas, and most people don’t have $10k or more lying around to put in solar panels that will most likely never repay themselves.

And, on the financial side, Lord says that the UK needs to look at ways to tax the carbon use of natural gas, with rebates available for the poorest. But he added that it’s not just the running costs that need examination, but how these retrofit projects are financed in general. He compared the average price of a mortgage, currently under 3 percent, with consumer bank loans, which are often three times more expensive. “If you could fund your heat pump purchase for one and a half percent, rather than nine, that would change the economics quite significantly.”

If Brits don’t comply, they’ll just be taxed out the ying yang. Which is already happening for electricity. I’m not against them: just like with EVs, it should be a choice, not government Forcing people to comply.

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8 Responses to “Bummer: The UK Is Having A Tough Time Forcing People To Switch To Heat Pumps”

  1. Joe says:

    “What’s providing the electricity?”, Easy, it comes out of the wall! No evil burners needed. And remember, food comes from the store.

  2. bob sykes says:

    Ten grand for a new installation is about right. But Clemow gets a lot of stuff wrong. Heat pumps do not run continuously, except under extreme conditions, neither do air contitioners. (We’ve had one since 1988, and replaced it once.) One of the extreme conditions is air temperatures below freezing. Heat pumps do not function in extreme cold and another form of backup heat is needed. (We have a propane furnace.) English winters hare milder than Ohio winters, but the supplementary heat will be needed on occasion there, too.

    • Dana says:

      Mr Sykes wrote:

      One of the extreme conditions is air temperatures below freezing. Heat pumps do not function in extreme cold and another form of backup heat is needed.

      My HVAC system has an “emergency heat” setting, in which heating elements in the air handling unit can be used to supplement the too-little heat generated by the outside condenser. But, we also have a propane fireplace, which is nice on colder days, and serves as a backup if the sparktricity goes out.

  3. Dana says:

    One can argue that, over the lifetime, it will cost less, but if you have to borrow money to buy your Tesla or your electric heat pump, you wind up having interest costs as well.

    Houses that use “gas-fired boilers” heat the home not with forced air, but radiators, something rather common across the pond. Radiators use 1½” to 2″ diameter piping to deliver either hot water or steam from the boiler to the radiators. To retrofit heat pumps, which use forced warm (or cold) air to registers in rooms means a major retrofitting of ductwork. For a one-storey house on a basement or crawlspace, such duct work can be run under the floors, and isn’t always that big an issue, but if you have two or more floors, you have to find a way to get the forced air to the higher floors, and that means some real expense, not to mention some possibly bad interior design, if not done during original construction.

    If you have a two-storey house with available attic space, you could have a ground-level heat pump to deliver forced air through the basement/crawl space to floor registers on the first floor, and an in-attic heat pump and ducting to deliver forced air to ceiling mounted registers on the second floor, but that’s two separate heat pumps.

    • Professor Hale says:

      The situation you describe is why split unit heat pumps are popular in Europe (popular-ish). They just run the coolant pipes to a few rooms and the condenser units are in those rooms (taking up space and being ugly), but they work. They wouldn’t bother running ductwork.

      Of course, Iceland, with unlimited free hot water from volcanoes, would just keep their radiators.

  4. Hairy says:

    The Tesla Mod 3 costs about 1000$ less than the average cost of a new car sold in the USA
    However you are correct most people in the usa choose to not buy a new car
    Have you tried driving one yet ? Cheap to operate and base model has 480hp

    • david7134 says:

      No, that is all a lie or obfuscation or ignorance. Factor in that every 5 years you must buy a new battery, which most people can not afford. Then what are you going to do with old batteries. Those are a greater pollutant than nuclear material.

    • Dana says:

      Hey, we get it: you love a plug in electric vehicle. I fully support your right to choose which one to buy, as long as you can afford it.

      I fully support the right of anyone to prefer a plug-in electric vehicle; on this, I am completely pro-choice. What I oppose is the notion that the government could or should restrict our choices to buy fossil fueled vehicles.

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