Public would support government scheme to help homes scrap fossil fuel boilers, poll finds

Exclusive: 70 per cent would back a grant scheme to help homes replace their fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps, according to a poll of 2,000 people

Daisy Dunne
Climate Correspondent
Thursday 30 September 2021 20:31

Related video: Climate activists march through Glasgow in rally to avoid ‘utter apocalypse’

Most Britons would support a government scheme to help households adopt low-carbon heating, such as by switching from gas boilers to heat pumps, a poll finds.

A survey shared with The Independent found that 70 per cent of people would back an official grant scheme to enable people to replace their fossil fuel boilers with low-carbon heat pumps. Only 8 per cent would oppose such a scheme.

And 58 per cent of people would support a scheme to offer free heat pumps to low-income households, according to the Opinium poll of 2,000 people commissioned by the climate charity Possible.

Britain’s homes currently account for around a fifth of the country’s total CO2 emissions – and ministers have promised to set out plans for how they will tackle carbon from houses ahead of Cop26, the major climate summit taking place in Glasgow in November.

Neil Jones, clean heat campaigner at the charity Possible, told The Independent: “People are waking up to the climate damage gas boilers cause – and no one wants their home to be part of the problem.

“As the government argues with itself over climate policies, this polling sends a clear message that the public supports switching to heat pumps for green home heating.

“It’s high time to modernise and future-proof UK homes, but without well-designed government support, households will be left out in the cold while the climate crisis escalates.”

Analysis by the charity released this week found that Britain’s boilers emit more than double the CO2 produced by all of the country’s gas-fired power stations.

And earlier this month it was revealed that the UK ranks bottom in Europe for sales of home heat pumps.

Electric heat pumps work by absorbing warmth from an outside source such as air, ground or nearby water before transferring it into the home. They require just a third of the power used by electric heaters and use far less energy than oil and gas heating.

The UK’s independent climate advisers say that the UK will need to rapidly scale up its deployment of heat pumps in buildings over the next decade if we are to meet the legal target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Jess Ralston, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said Britain’s energy crisis, driven by high gas prices, highlighted the problem with families relying on fossil fuel boilers.

She told The Independent: “It’s no wonder the public overwhelmingly supports government help to switch away from fossil fuel boilers. They’re unhealthy as they contribute to harmful air pollution, they’re environmentally damaging and – particularly lately – they are expensive to run.”

The polling should prompt ministers to put forward bold plans for helping people switch to low-carbon home heating, she added.

“Prices of alternative low carbon systems that run on cleaner electricity are already rapidly falling, which will no doubt increase their uptake, but the government can likely speed this up by offering grants,” she said.

“It’s incentives like these that will drive a clean heat revolution and allow the public to do their bit on climate – which they clearly want to, given the support for action in this area.

“Many will be looking to the government’s upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy to make use of this public support and adopt a bold plan for our homes which can deliver carbon savings affordably and sustainably – all that remains is now to see whether this will be the case.”

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