Third of Brits more likely to get electric heat pump to shun Russian gas

Half of all heat pump ready homes interested in getting one – switch from gas boilers would wipe out gas imports from Russia two times over.

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By Kathy Grenville

info@eciu.net

Information on this page correct as of:

Ahead of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme starting on 1st April [1], new polling [2] for the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that a third (33%) of Brits say they would be more likely to get an electric heat pump to help insulate ourselves from Russia interfering in the gas market.

Russian aggression and global demand are sending the cost of running a gas boiler higher with household gas bills up by over £500 between April 2021 and April 2022. They could reach over £1,400 in October this year, according to some industry estimates, which would be another roughly 50% rise, or £450-£500 [3].

Cherilyn Mackrory, Conservative Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth said:

“Heat pumps are now cheaper to run than gas boilers, so helping more households upgrade their heating system will shield bill payers from volatile international gas prices. Combined with insulation, we can stay warmer in our homes and ease the cost of living crisis while reducing our reliance on imported gas and defunding Putin’s war machine.”

The survey also found that half (49%) of all ‘heat pump ready homes’[4] are interested in getting an electric heat pump – equivalent to about 7 million homes. If all these homes switched from a gas boiler to a heat pump, the need to import gas from Russia would be wiped out completely, two times over. [5]

Jess Ralston, Senior Analyst at ECIU, said:

“Millions of homes are already suitable for swapping out an old gas boiler for an electric heat pump which are both reliable and clean. As with EVs, early adopters will help to drive down the costs and with demand already set to be high plus a heightened focus on the need to get off imported gas, the Government may be wise to consider expanding the scheme.

“Most people don’t realise it, but your gas boiler produces more carbon emissions than your car, so they are also a major driver of climate change.”

Heat pumps also break down less and don’t require as much servicing as a gas boiler, because they have less moving parts. Four in ten (38%) said they have had a problem with their gas boiler in the past two years, which jumps to half (51%) for the past five years.


Patrick Wheeler, Director at Heat Geek said:

“Heat pumps produce zero emissions and are now on average cheaper to run than gas boilers. Even though the technology feels relatively new it’s been around for many years, works in the cold and is very reliable.

“Tens of thousands of homes already use heat pumps in the UK. As ever the key is to get a properly trained installer and there is a network of professionals available all over the country. HeatGeek.com runs a map of these trained experts so you can find the right installer for you.”

From 2nd April, grants of £5,000 will be available to people switching to an electric heat pump. Millions of homes are already heat pump ready with double glazing, loft and wall insulation. The Spring Statement saw a cut in VAT heat pumps bringing between £1,200-£2,000 off the average price of installation. Heat pump prices start at £4,000 and with the grant, heat pump innovators like Octopus Energy have confirmed that heat pumps can be as cheap as a boiler to purchase and then much cheaper to run [7].

Only a quarter of people (28%) know that gas boilers produce nitrous oxide air pollution, but once they do, four in ten (41%) say it makes them more likely to want to want to switch to an electric heat pump. And with heat pumps set to be £260 a year cheaper to run [6] come from April, 37% say lower running costs than a gas boiler makes them more likely to make the switch.

Hugh Montgomery, intensive care consultant and Prof of Intensive Care Medicine, University College London (UCL), said:

“When you think of air pollution, you tend to think of cars, but gas boiler emit around a fifth of pollution in urban areas. Gas hobs are also one of the top causes of indoor air pollution. With more people opting for electric heat pumps and induction hobs we can start to curb this health threat and enjoy cleaner air.”

Heat pumps work at all temperatures with 1.9 million installed in Sweden – four out of ten households – and 8.6 million, roughly a third of households, in France. The White House is considering ramping up heat pump manufacturing to help Europe get off Russian gas imports [8].


Notes to editors:

  1. Boiler Upgrade Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-may-be-eligible-for-the-boiler-upgrade-scheme-from-april-2022
  2. Conducted by Opinium 18th- 22nd March 2022. Sample size: 2,083 UK Adults, weighted to be nationally representative.
  3. Investec analysis of energy bills in 2022/23. https://www.investec.com/en_gb/focus/economy/UK-spring-budget-2022-preview.html
  4. Classified as owner occupied homes with loft and wall insulation, double glazing and ground floor access. These are roughly equivalent to an Energy Performance Certificate (ECP) band C.
  5. Installing a heat pump cuts household gas demand by 81%. (ECIU analysis https://eciu.net/analysis/briefings/how-to-cut-the-uks-dependency-on-russian-gas-permanently), with the residual proportion due to some electricity still being generated by gas plants. However, the Government has committed to a zero carbon power system by 2035 as renewables replace fossil fuel generation, so the reduction in household demand is likely to reach near to 100% over the next decade or so. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plans-unveiled-to-decarbonise-uk-power-system-by-2035
    1. ‘Low hanging fruit’ homes are deemed to be those at Energy Performance Certificate bands B and C, with some band D homes. Cutting the gas demand of 7 million households rated EPC band B, C or D by 81% would cut the UK’s total demand 63TWh/yr (8%) which equates to 16% of UK imports, as we currently use about 50% domestic gas and 50% imported gas. In 2021, import around 4% of total demand from Russia, or 8% of imports. ECIU analysis of BEIS Energy Performance Certificate statistics https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-energy-performance-of-buildings-certificates and Energy Trends https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/gas-section-4-energy-trends.
  6. Regulatory Assistance Project analysis that shows heat pumps will be £260 per year cheaper to run than gas boilers from April 2022. https://www.raponline.org/knowledge-center/analysis-running-costs-of-heat-pumps-versus-gas-boilers/
  7. Octopus Energy have stated that with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, their heat pumps will reach cost parity with gas boilers. https://octopus.energy/blog/heat-pump-revolution/
  8. It has been reported that the US President Joe Biden is considering upping exports of US-manufactured heat pumps to Europe in order to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/heat-pumps-can-counter-putin-climate-crisis-advocates-say/

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: george.smeeton@eciu.net

Kathy Grenville, Communications Officer, ECIU, Tel: 07501 874 214, email: kathy.grenville@eciu.net