Gas boilers v. Heat pumps
The speed of technological change can catch people by surprise. Just look at the “horse v. tractor” debate printed in The Times 100 years ago.
Advances in zero-emission electric heating could soon mean 80% of Britain’s homes will be able to swap to a heat pump, without the need for massive changes, when their combustion boiler dies.
Gas boilers have served us well – but they have their downsides:
- People are so concerned about gas boiler reliability Which? found the average cost to insure one is over £280 per year. Compare that to the typical home insurance cost of £152 per year.
- If not installed and maintained correctly, gas boilers can be dangerous. The Gas Safe Register found dangerous gas appliances in 1/6 of the homes they inspected between 2010 and 2015.
- Gas boilers contribute around a fifth of urban NOx emissions, with many areas exceeding safe limits.
Heat pumps powered by renewable electricity can be better in so many ways:
- Around three times more energy efficient than a gas boiler, without the carbon emissions
- Say goodbye to hot and cold spots with consistent, comfortable warmth throughout the home
- With fewer parts or safety concerns a heat pump can last longer and need less maintenance
We’re already investing £10m in our clean heat research and training centre to make all this happen quickly. We aim to train 1,000 engineers a year while halving hardware and installation costs.
Of course, there’s much more to do. For example – it’s time to fix the UK’s outdated energy tax regime. Electricity carries more than 10x the environmental and social obligation costs of gas, despite our electricity being increasingly green and gas being the main polluter in UK homes.
Just like the tractor of 1921, heat pumps aren’t yet perfect – but increasingly they offer a glimpse of an affordable, comfortable, fossil-fuel free future.
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