Climate change: Will the UK warm up to heat pumps as an alternative to gas boilers?

A leading climate adviser to the government has told ITV News not enough is being done to phase out gas, as Consumer Editor Chris Choi explains.

Is it time to give up on your old flame? I’m referring to that pretty blue flame dancing in your gas boiler.

Most UK homes have it, but the UK government is laying out targets for the replacement of this carbon generating fossil fuel from our heating systems.

A total of 86% of the UK’s home heating comes from gas and there is already a timetable for gas to go.

It's now been announced grants of up to £5,000 will be offered to households to replace their gas boiler with a low carbon heat pump - but what are they and will people use them?

What are fuel pumps and why might we see more of them?

These pumps absorb warmth from the air or the ground at temperatures as low as -15C, feeding radiators and water systems.

Experts say replacing our gas boilers with heat pumps would cut carbon emissions from home heating by 73%.

Though grants may be available to some, the upfront cost is high - around £10,000.

  • By 2025 gas boilers will be banned from new UK homes.

  • By 2033 government advisors want all replacement gas boilers banned too.

  • By 2050 the UK plans to reach zero carbon.

The alternative to gas central heating is fuel pumps.

One of the country’s top heat pump research centres, based in Slough, says costs will soon fall making heat pumps similar in price to gas systems - truly opening them up to the mass market.

They also aim to make installation less disruptive, at the moment many homes require new pipes and radiators if they are to convert.

Already some households are switching to heat pumps - but the number (currently 36,600 a year) is low compared with several other countries.

Experts want to boost public awareness of the environmental problems of gas heating, and our knowledge of low carbon alternatives like heat pumps.

The leading environmental advisor to parliament told ITV News earlier this month that the government needs a clearer plan for phasing out gas home heating.

The head of the UK's Climate Change Committee, Chris Stark, said: "The government doesn't have a plan for moving to heat pumps or indeed a range of alternatives to gas boilers and it’s going to need to have a better plan if we’re going to make these targets that Parliament has set."

This is one climate change problem that is very close to home - but so could be the solution.