Government grant slashes cost of heat pumps - but are they a good investment for homeowners?

More needs to be done to help those struggling with the rising cost of energy before homeowners can start to think about renewable heating systems like heat pumps.

That's according to energy group Warm Wales who say consumers they've spoken to are facing a heat or eat scenario.

This comes as the UK Government recently launched its Boiler Upgrade Scheme offering homeowners in England and Wales a £5000 grant to fit heat pumps in their homes replacing old oil and gas boilers.

They say the grant makes heat pumps the most affordable option.

Joanna Seymour, head of partnerships and development at Warm Wales says the timing of the grant scheme isn't ideal.

"When we are speaking to lots of residents on the phone, they are struggling to make ends meet", she said.

"They are struggling with their basic needs to be able to afford to put gas and electricity on, to be able to put food on or to be able to fill their car up to go to work. That's what we need to be looking at first."

Recent reports suggest the cost of installing a heat pump in your home can cost up to double the amount of the grant being offered by Westminster. 

Heat pumps are expensive to install, but an increasing number of new builds have them as standard.

Homeowner Carole Dayantis bought her new build property in Laugharne with a heat pump already installed. 

She claims her energy bills have been reduced thanks to the system which takes in and heats cold air from outside.

"Gas at some point is going to run out, whereas air is not going to run out," she told ITV Wales. 

"We feel like we are helping. We have much less of a carbon footprint, it's renewable energy and I think it is going to be more economical in the long term."

What are heat pumps?

Heat pumps are a low-carbon, high-efficiency alternative to gas boilers that extract heat from the air or the ground to provide heating for a building.

They are powered by electricity and work with existing home heating systems such as radiators and underfloor heating. They are already widely used in many other European countries and the best option available today to decarbonise homes at scale.

The new scheme will offer householders across England and Wales a one-off £5,000 grant towards the cost of a heat pump.

The grants, which launched on Monday, will be available on a first come first served basis and could help to bring the lifetime cost of a heat pump in line with a boiler. 

Home heating accounts for nearly 60% of gas use in Wales

Nesta Cymru, an innovation organisation, has warned that Welsh households must take action to avoid missing out on a £5,000 grant to replace gas boilers with heat pumps.

The warning comes as recent polling by the charity suggests  55% of Welsh people would support a scheme to roll them out to all homes across Wales.

The poll of 1,000 Welsh adults conducted by YouGov found 32% didn’t know what appliance a heat pump would replace, while 43% didn’t know what powered one.

Andy Regan, Nesta Cymru’s sustainable future mission manager said: “As heat pumps are currently the best available low carbon alternative to a gas boiler we hope these grants will be successful in speeding up their adoption, and we don’t want Wales to be left behind. 

“Heat pumps are a much more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to boilers.

“With the right insulation, radiators and heating controls, they can work for all types of homes.”

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: “We are slashing the cost of installation for people with government help of up to £5,000 and cutting VAT to 0%.

"We are working with industry to further bring down the cost of heat pumps by up to half by 2025 and reaching parity with boilers by 2030, making them ultimately the most affordable option.”

Homeowners can find out if they are eligible for the grant via the Ofgem Boiler Upgrade Scheme website.