Most rural homes can't afford heat pumps as boiler ban looms – The Telegraph

Poll finds installation cost of up to £30,000 would leave many off-grid homes without access to sufficient heating
More than two-thirds of people living in off-grid rural homes fear they would not be able to afford a heat pump if required to install one, a survey found.
Nearly 70 per cent of households said they would not be able to afford £15,000-30,000 to install a heat pump if their boiler breaks down after 2026, when the Government plans to ban new boiler installations in off-grid homes, the data show.
There are around four million homes in the UK that use heating oil or liquid gas, almost all of them in rural areas.
Fuel poverty rates among these households are 43 per cent higher than on-grid homes, affecting half a million households, and nearly half of residents are over-65.
Rural off-grid homes have faced soaring energy costs as the price of oil and liquid gas has risen in recent months, and they were originally left out of the Government’s bills support scheme.
Nearly 60 per cent of off-grid households think the 2026 new gas boiler ban, which is nine years earlier than that proposed for homes on the grid, is unfair and should be scrapped, according to the poll of 1,000 people commissioned by Liquid Gas UK, which represents domestic heating fuel suppliers.
Its figures for heat pump conversion costs for off-grid homes are higher than the Government’s own estimate of between £12,000 to £24,000.
Government modelling suggests around 80 per cent of off-grid homes do not need an extensive retrofit to accommodate a low temperature heat pump, which works like a refrigerator in reverse.
Plans to ban new fossil fuel boilers in these homes are currently being consulted on by the Government, which has said it intends to move ahead with the 2026 deadline.
In response to the consultation, charity Age UK warned that there was a “substantial risk” that some households would be unable to afford to install heat pumps or insulation unless the Government significantly increased support.
Polling for Age UK found that more than half of off-grid households were in favour of phasing out fossil fuel boilers over time and replacing them with new electric systems.
“It is essential the Government provide comprehensive support to ensure these households can replace existing fossil fuel systems and maintain access to sufficient heating,” Age UK said.
Home heating accounts for around 14 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions and the Government wants to end the sale of new gas boilers in all homes from the mid-2030s as part of its net zero plans.
It wants heat pumps to be the main replacement.
David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West said: “The owners of off-grid homes are in danger of becoming the losers in the race to net zero. Off-grid properties, many of which are poorly insulated, are harder to heat by the methods currently preferred by the Government.”
Liquid Gas UK said its figures on the cost of retrofitting homes came from analysis by energy consultancy Ecuity which was commissioned by the trade body.
Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented: “Rural households must not be left out in the cold and the Government must make good on its plans to provide support to households to upgrade their homes so that they are well insulated, energy efficient and with heating systems which will last into the future.”

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