Heat pump applications surge after increase in government grant

  • New figures show applications for Boiler Upgrade Scheme tripled in the week after grants increased to £7,500 
  • Subsequent weeks saw applications remain nearly 60 per cent higher than the previous average. 
  • Heat  pumps could become easier to install under proposed changes to planning rules

More families are choosing to ditch fossil fuel boilers for a cleaner alternative, after the government increased its grant by 50% for new heat pumps – making it one of the most generous schemes in Europe. 

New figures published today (30 November) show the number of new applications for government’s heat pump support surged after the increased £7,500 grant, announced by the Prime Minister, became available.  

The number of new applications to the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme in the first week since the grant uplift reached 1,150 – more than three times higher than the average weekly rate prior to the change. In the subsequent three weeks, new applications have remained nearly 60 per cent higher than the previous weekly average.  

The scheme, which is available in England and Wales, provides financial support for families to switch from fossil fuel heating systems to a cleaner heat pump alternative – and as a result of the uplift, is now one of the most generous of its kind in Europe. 

Energy Security Secretary, Claire Coutinho, said: 

“Today’s new figures show our pragmatic approach to net zero is working. In the first week after our 50% increase to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, applications tripled.

“We are supporting hardworking families who want to make the switch and replace their boiler in a way that’s within their budgets.”

The results come alongside new independent research published today confirming heat pumps are generally rated as quiet, with a majority of those surveyed saying they did not notice the sound.  

The review found complaints from neighbours are rare – with people far more likely to hear the noise of traffic and dogs barking, over of the sound of nearby heat pumps.  

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:  

“This fantastic increase in applications through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme demonstrates not only the desire for heat pumps in this country, but also that our approach to reach net zero works. 

“We want more families to enjoy the more stable bills and cleaner heating that heat pumps have to offer – and today’s evidence that heat pumps make minimal noise is yet another reason to make the switch.” 

Today’s report examining the sound coming from heat pumps follows significant advances to reduce noise levels. The report concludes that heat pumps are now very quiet – with sound levels similar to a gas boiler or fridge. 

Extensive research was carried out for the independent study by acoustic experts - who reviewed existing data and conducted interviews with households, installers, manufacturers, industry bodies, as well as local authority planning officers.  

Currently some households need to seek full planning permission to install a heat pump. However, the report recommends a change in planning rules to make it easier for households to install heat pumps under permitted development rights – while also strengthening heat pump noise assessments conducted by installers to continue protecting the public from noise pollution.  

The government announced, in last week’s Autumn Statement, that it will consult on introducing new permitted development rights to end the blanket restriction on heat pumps one metre from a property boundary in England. 

Customers do not have to apply for grants through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and can check their home is eligible on GOV.UK. Anyone interested just needs to agree a quote for the work with an MCS certified installer, who will then do all the paperwork. Ofgem will simply contact the customer after that to confirm they would like to proceed.   

Also today, the government confirmed plans for a new Clean Heat Market Mechanism, launching next year, which will incentivise the UK’s heating industry to invest in making heat pumps an increasingly attractive and affordable choice for families and businesses.  

Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Octopus Energy Group, comments: 

“The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has already done wonders to kickstart a nascent heat pump industry and drive hundreds of millions of pounds of private sector investment in the UK. Since the increase in the grant was announced, we’ve seen five times more requests for heat pumps from our customers, and we’ve even been able to offer some installations for free. 

“Many of the planning rules around heat pumps are outdated, so it's great the government is modernising them to make it easier for more people to get their hands on one.  

 “The Clean Heat Market Mechanism announced today will also give industry the certainty we need to grow heat pump manufacturing here in the UK –securing green British jobs for generations to come.” 

Mat Moakes, Chief Commercial Officer at OVO, said: 

“It's encouraging to see the rise in applications for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme with the recent uplift helping households make the switch.  

“At OVO we’ve seen an uplift in customer interest and our data also shows that when paired with innovative tariffs to reduce the cost the uptake increases.” 

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