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Call to incentivise hybrid heat pump systems to enhance energy security

Baxi is calling on the Government to incentivise hybrid heat pump systems to reduce reliance on natural gas and increase heat pump installations.

The large increase in the price of gas, in part because of the conflict in Ukraine, is leading to more costly energy bills for consumers. This means that the running costs of a gas boiler may no longer be the cheapest source of heat in many households.

It is therefore recommending that the Government incentivises hybrid systems which combine a specially adapted heat pump with a traditional gas boiler, potentially reducing gas usage by up to 70%.

The Government is about to offer a grant of up to £5,000 to customers for switching to a pure heat pump solution which will work in some houses but not others.

The Government also announced a cut on VAT on heat pumps last week which has been welcomed by Baxi but the company believes hybrids could be provide a way to reduce gas usage, reduce bills and decarbonise the nation’s heating.

Karen Boswell, managing director of Baxi, explained: “As gas bills increase, electrification of heat, where suitable, will immediately mean we are less dependent on gas, as only a proportion of electricity is generated from natural gas and this is decreasing quickly. Electrically driven heat pumps for example, offer a sustainable alternative, and will become the main source of heating in new build homes from 2025. However, fitting this type of technology in the UK's existing housing stock often requires substantial modifications to the property. We therefore believe that the UK government should be looking at hybrids, where a specially adapted heat pump works alongside the homes existing or new gas boiler.

“Hybrids could reduce gas usage by up to 70% and have been proven to be effective by our parent group BDR Thermea in the Netherlands, yet this relatively simple, easy-to-install option is almost non-existent in the UK. This is unlikely to change soon because hybrid heat pump systems will not be eligible for the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme which incentivises ‘heat pump only’ installations. The Government is taking a very purist approach by not incentivising hybrids. By not offering grants for such installations, it could be preventing existing homes across the UK from accessing efficient, low carbon heat.”

The UK industry has already raised concerns about the level of training required to upskill thousands of heating engineers, who will be required to fit heat pumps in order to meet government targets. Baxi is already providing heat pump training for hundreds of engineers to drive progress in the new build sector but is also highlighting the need for greater investment in training related to low carbon technologies.

Karen Boswell said: “We really need an ambitious industry-wide retraining plan for the 130,000 Gas Safe engineers that are currently helping people stay warm throughout the UK. The Government, companies, and training colleges need to rethink the job profile and skillset of an installer, who in future will need to fit a wider variety of appliances and be the consultant for customers on their options to decarbonise their homes and buildings. Without proper training for installers, and financial incentives for their customers, we are highly unlikely to make sufficient progress in moving away from natural gas and reducing carbon emissions from heating.”

1 April 2022


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