To help reduce household bills and fulfil the UK’s climate commitments, the Government has made a massive push toward replacing household gas boilers with low carbon heating systems such as air source heat pumps, biomass boilers, and ground source heat pumps. However, these green technologies tend to have a prohibitive upfront cost, which is why the UK recently launched the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which offers households up to £6,000 in grants to replace their boilers.
Despite these support schemes, many households have expressed their frustration at the massive costs of installing a new heat pump, forcing them to stick to their boilers.
A woman in County Down expressed her “overwhelming” disappointment after she was told to pay £16,000 to install a new heat pump.
Celia Spouncer and her partner, David Thompson wanted to make their home completely energy-efficient and take part in the green revolution.
However, her dreams were dashed when she contacted Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) to connect the air source heat pump they had selected.
Speaking to the BBC, she said: “We were told that, where we are, that we would need to spend a lot of money on increasing the capacity of the transformer and putting in extra wiring, and it was going to come in at something like £16,000 to put in that additional improvement to the network so that we could put a low carbon energy source in.”
The energy distribution company told Ms Spouncer that her transformer, which is a grey box on a nearby pole, did not have the capacity to support an air source heat pump.
The box is responsible for distributing power to the houses connected to it, and NIE warned that they could not connect the transformer to this heat pump while maintaining stable supply to other connected households.
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“And new connections to the grid are reviewed for the impact that will have in any particular location.”
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme leads up to the government’s net-zero pledges, with a ban on the sale of new gas boilers from 2036.
The Government is currently targeting the installation of 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.