Skip to content

Cost Of Replacing Gas Boilers “Greatly Underestimated”

July 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness



GREEN alternatives to gas boilers will cost £11.8 billion more than the Government has budgeted for over the next four years as ministers have vastly underestimated the scale of home retrofits, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Homeowners and landlords also face paying £17.8 billion in the next four years to go green, claims analysis from leading energy groups and think tanks

The Government aims to replace oil and gas boilers at the rate of 600,000 a year by 2028, although campaigners say it will need to rise to 900,000.

But it has underestimated how many homeowners can pay thousands of pounds to retrofit and install heat pumps, says analysis from the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG), which includes utility provider EON and the Confederation of British Industry. The technology, which is similar to a refrigerator in reverse and runs on electricity, heats radiators to a lower temperature and often requires insulation, bigger radiators and underfloor heating to keep older homes warm.

The scale of the challenge to install them is immense. Energy efficiency retrofits, which the Government says it wants to achieve in around 17 million houses by 2035, are expected to cost £4,400 per home. A heat pump ranges from £7,000 to £15,000, though manufacturers say they will be able to halve costs within 18 months.

But a third of homeowners have no savings, according to the most recent English Housing Survey. “UK homes perform shamefully when it comes to energy efficiency – and we simply have no more time to waste in making improvements,” said Alan Jones, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a member of the EEIG.

MPs and industry figures say a huge education campaign will be needed to explain to people how heat pumps work. Heating our homes accounts for around 14 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, one of the biggest single sources. The vast majority of that comes from gas boilers in the 85 per cent of homes that use them.

But 85 per cent of Britons do not think their boiler is a major contributor to the UK’s emissions.

Heat pumps are common in Europe, particularly in Nordic countries, belying the idea that they cannot be used in colder climates, and are currently “the only viable low carbon heating source”, said Philip Dunne, the Tory chairman of the environmental audit committee.

But they are an unfamiliar technology and can be tricky to get right, particularly in the UK’s older, leaky homes, which often require a bespoke system.

And there is a huge lack of trained installers in the UK – only 1,200 compared to the 10,000 that will be needed by 2025, according to research by EY. Air-source heat pumps work by using a fan to pull ambient heat out of the air, which is converted via a compressor to hotter temperatures, used to heat radiators and a hot water cylinder for taps and showers.

Ground-source heat pumps work in a similar way, but draw their heat from pipes buried in either horizontally, or vertically at around 90m to 160m deep.

For maximum efficiency, heat pumps are designed to heat water to lower temperatures than a gas boiler, by around 10 degrees. That is plenty for a hot bath or shower, but can require bigger radiators, underfloor heating and insulation to ensure a typical home stays warm.

The technology can also take more than two hours to heat water and is designed to heat up gently to a lower temperature, requiring planning ahead for showers and times when you will be home. “We need to level with consumers. But instant heating of our homes to similar degrees as the tropics isn’t the answer. We need to reduce excessive energy consumption to reduce the impact on our environment,” said Mr Dunne.

“People have come to expect everything should be instantaneous, which is a false reality that is a product of artificially low gas prices,” said John Szymik, the chief executive of Octopus Energy Services, which is investing millions in heat pump technology and training.!preferred/0/package/643/pub/643/page/29/article/200389 


So another £30 billion on the already bloated and unaffordable bill for decarbonising heating. But apparently it’s all our fault, as we have not insulated our houses!

Forget about the nonsense about Scandinavian countries, as I suspect most of their homes burn an awful lot of wood etc to stay warm in winter.  As for prices being cut in half, they would say that. Let manufacturers put their money where their mouth is, and cut prices now in return for orders in bulk.

Meanwhile, MP Philip Dunne is sure we will be happy to fork out once we realise how much carbon dioxide our gas boilers are emitting.

Then there’s little Emma Gatten. I would have said she had lost the plot, but I doubt whether she had ever found it! She is worries that a third of homeowners have no savings. What gives her the right to demand that people’s hard earned savings are spent on green frippery which nobody wants?

The real problem here is that successive governments have relied solely on the advice of Gummer’s CCC and the green blob which infiltrated DECC, and subsequently BEIS. They were assured that decarbonising would be easily affordable. But gradually cold hard reality is beginning to dawn.

The article includes this case study, which is a timely warning:



  1. John Hultquist permalink
    July 18, 2021 1:07 am

    “Ground-source heat pumps work in a similar way, but draw their heat from pipes buried in either horizontally, or vertically at around 90m to 160m deep.”

    This is misleading. The “horizontal” system needs a larger area but the tubes or pipes need only be buried a couple of meters. Vertical systems need less area but require the 90/160 m. holes. Excavation for horizontal trenches is likely cheaper.

    Mine (now 15 years old) is air-sourced and does heating and cooling; with resistance heaters for very cold outside temperature. [There is a back-up wood stove.]
    Electricity is hydro (inexpensive) and the house was build with hidden ducts (tubes) and all electric appliances.
    Would not want to retrofit an old house, nor have higher priced electrons.

    • tamimisledus permalink
      July 18, 2021 9:17 am

      …. [electricity] inexpensive for now ….
      This is the same sort of nonsense I heard from someone crowing about the benefits of electric cars,
      It’s a tossup whether the “ecology” of green cars will destroy society before or after the “ecology” of house greening.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 18, 2021 1:21 am

    I guess the Norwegians had a nasty shock as their electricity prices converged German levels, having been almost free last year until the new interconnector opened. Norwegians bills would have been dominated by standing charges that are related to maximum offtake. This winter will see the UK competing for supply too. An interesting lesson in the economics of arbitrage. It will be interesting to see how they react.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 18, 2021 8:40 pm

      IIRC the proposed private North Connect interconector from Scotland to Norway was banned by the Norwegian government for a 3 year period due to the effect it would have on increasing Norwegian prices. Also a proposed Icelink to Iceland was ruled out for the same detrimental effect on domestic prices in Iceland.

  3. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    July 18, 2021 5:46 am

    Not only is retrofitting expensive and difficult, the Grid does not have sufficient dispatchable power to allow this utter insanity. Let alone powering ‘electric’ ( coal fired ) cars.

  4. July 18, 2021 8:07 am

    Further folly is the complete brand new central heating system installed here within the past few weeks, paid for entirely by government funding. Didn’t cost me a penny apart from clearing up after the contractors and painting the inside walls where insulation had been installed as part of the scheme.
    The reason? To rid the house of its solid fuel boiler and insulate walls which didn’t need insulation and doing nothing to the walls which did need it.
    The replacement boiler is, of course, powered by LPG and will have to be replaced well within its lifetime.

  5. July 18, 2021 8:07 am


    assume that the fanatics get their way and the numbers they want are installed. The power for these heating systems will mostly be required for the winter months so requiring X amount of generating capacity. Much of this capcity will not be required for eight months or so of the year so do we just shut it down until it’s needed again?

    It will substancially distort the winter to summer electrical demand and hence required capacity. Currently it’s about 40 Gwatts to 25 Gwatts, even a 25% utilisation of heat pumps needs a doubling in generating capacity (Heat to electricity demand 4 : 1) so 80 Gwatts to say 30 gwatts as hot water is an all year round requirement.

    • T Walker permalink
      July 18, 2021 9:13 am

      Sorry Iain, you mean warm water!!?

  6. Martin Brumby permalink
    July 18, 2021 8:33 am

    Jump on a bus, sit on the top deck and take note of the housing in the poorer suburbs of virtually any British town or city.

    How many of the endless terraces have roofs, guttering etc. in decent condition? And the suburbs of ex- Council semi’s are little better. Even the posher and leafy suburbs of Victorian and Edwardian ‘town houses’, aren’t great.

    And that’s just looking at the roofing, the basic issue of keeping water out.

    How good are the foundations of many of these houses?

    What proportion of all this older housing is good for another 25 years without significant investment?

    There is no interest anywhere in this problem.

    Now let’s add to all this, the GangGreen desperate necessity to go “zero carbon”, becauseClimate.

    My guess is that 75% (at least) of older housing could not go “zero carbon” at ANY realistic price, it will need to be demolished and rebuilt. This is also reflected in our Beloved Leaders cunning plan to make it illegal to buy or sell property which doesn’t meet high insulation standards.

    So, at a stroke, hundreds of thousands of citizens will be robbed of most of their assets.

    This ties in with the genius idea that we will own nothing but rent everything we really need.

    Allegedly we will also all be happy and presumably have time to worry about more important things like transgender bathrooms and all pervading post colonial guilt.

    Should be interesting.

    • Ian PRSY permalink
      July 18, 2021 9:25 am

      My council just voted £5.8m to equip 1000 tenant properties with solar, for savings of UP TO £150/year. They could give the same tenants that saving for 39 years i f they just used the money, or the whole housing stock for 2 years.

  7. T Walker permalink
    July 18, 2021 8:47 am

    Someone should develop an electric powered tumbrel. They will be needed.

    The stupidity of all this is staggering.

    Climate scientists (sic) need to be aware that when the disaster that is “decarbonisation” unfolds, politicians will blame them. They should remember that Italy put volcanologists in prison a few years ago for negligence.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 18, 2021 10:17 am

      Can we then blame the politicians for being so stupid as to believe the climate science fictionists and then let then have their turn in standing by the posts in front of the wall after the alarmists have been dealt with?

  8. July 18, 2021 9:00 am

    What a surprise (not).

  9. tamimisledus permalink
    July 18, 2021 9:10 am

    **John Szymik, the chief executive of Octopus Energy Services, [which] is investing millions in heat pump technology and training.**
    i.e. the “ever so cute” Octopus company is taking customers’ money and investing it in a flawed technology to make Octopus even more money. Although the likelihood is that they will make even more money than that by buying in the technology from China.

    Do not get energy supplies from this company …. who should have know better than to name themselves after a carnivorous animal which capture its prey in its tentacles and propels it into mouths and digestive systems.
    You have been warned!

  10. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 18, 2021 9:17 am

    “People have come to expect everything should be instantaneous, which is a false reality that is a product of artificially low gas prices,” 

    What total garbage. We “expect” it because over a hundred years or do that’s what we have developed to make our lives more pleasant.

    This really is all heading for the biggest train crash ever seen.

  11. stevejay permalink
    July 18, 2021 9:19 am

    I suspect that when it comes to the crunch many people will react violently to these measures with mass demonstrations. Are we to be given any choice in whether our houses are ripped apart? While 97% of CO2 in the atmosphere is out of our control anyway.
    The whole plan is ludicrous and in no way will it be a vote winner.

  12. T Walker permalink
    July 18, 2021 9:23 am

    I thought energy companies had been stopped from all claiming their supply was carbon free renewable.?

    It seems to me that every advert I see anywhere claims to be supplying you that little bit of CO2 free electricity.

    Currently my supply from E.on is totally renewable. Yeah right.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 18, 2021 8:49 pm

      Personally I have no idea how the advertising standards authority allow these claims. UK demand as I write is 29,410MW, solar is effectively supplying NIL, wind 450MW and Hydro 210MW. So where is the other 28,000+MW coming from ‘cos it sure isn’t renewables?!
      Perhaps all those people being supplied by renewable only tariffs should have their supplies automatically cut off when renewables can’t supply.

  13. Gerry, England permalink
    July 18, 2021 10:19 am

    ‘..a huge education campaign..’

    I hear that the Dr Josef Goebbels Institute of Public Information has offered to help with this.

  14. July 18, 2021 10:19 am

    Step 1 in reversing the influence of the Green agenda zealots – Repeal Ed Miliband’s absurd Climate Change Act

  15. July 18, 2021 10:25 am


    Good analysis. I understand that under 2% of domestic property gets demolished each year so by 2050 the majority of homes are still likely to be the ones we are currently living in. Add in the appalling standard of new build homes few of which have the space for a water tank let alone a ground source pump and this retrofitting with 900,000 heat pumps a year seems pie in the sky.

  16. Devoncamel permalink
    July 18, 2021 11:07 am

    As I have said ad infinitum, the source of the problem is a policy driven by ideology, and an extreme political one at that. Using the fear factor, the fanatics have recruited the self- virtuous illiberal left to the cause. Conveniently they are more able to afford the exorbitant costs involved. Sadly even elements of the political right have fallen for the scam.
    Perhaps the facts are dawning on our elected representatives, who fear losing their privileged positions more than anything else.

  17. Jack Broughton permalink
    July 18, 2021 11:16 am

    How can one request a referendum in the UK? Switzerland uses them regularly, and stopped this climate extravaganza nonsense by one.

  18. Gamecock permalink
    July 18, 2021 12:05 pm

    ‘MPs and industry figures say a huge education campaign will be needed to explain to people how heat pumps work.’

    Wat? You are forcing people to take them. Why should they need to understand how they work? Is this “engaging” the people? The problem with compelled heat pumps is messaging?

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      July 18, 2021 1:50 pm


      Never mind understanding how heat pumps (don’t) work.

      It would, of course, be fascinating to know how many of our GangGreen chums and the Beloved Leaders in Westminster could give a two minute talk on how their existing gas central heating system (or their fridge) works.

      In just a bit more detail than “this gas stuff comes out of the pipe and burns to heat water whilst it causes the destruction of the planet”.

      My guess is that 95% of the geniuses in the House of Commons would struggle to change a light bulb. But they might do better, even so, than the “Scientific Experts” who are handsomely paid to provide the policy based evidence making that the Pollies demand.

      • Gamecock permalink
        July 18, 2021 1:58 pm

        Our political leaders are actually followers.

  19. johnbillscott permalink
    July 18, 2021 2:02 pm

    A heat pump is only one element of cost. I have a large air source heat pump connected to the house heating ducts to all rooms. The heat pump, not one of those silly little things you see in adverts which only heat one or two rooms. However, still need auxiliary heat, when I want a quick temperature boost or if the outside temperature is too low. In addition I have a oil fired water heater and an air/air heat exchanger to keep inside air healthy as draft proof houses are prone to dangerous mold growth. A reliable electricity supply is essential. For power emergencies and local heating I have a propane fire in the Rec Room,

    The ordinary people are being lied to by sleazy politicians and the shysters who will profit.

    Meanwhile, China, India and the East in general are expanding their coal fired economies to supply steel, cement, EV batteries and general tat to the UK and the West

    Gummer’s utterly corrupt CCC quango staffed by halfwits and mendacious ideologs are leading Boris down the path of destruction of our way of life aided of course by Woke Carrie.

    All this misery for a problem which does not exist except in the minds of the eco-lunatics and corrupt scientists.

  20. Gamecock permalink
    July 19, 2021 12:23 am

    This American finds it bizarre that your government can force you to replace your home heater.

  21. Tim the Coder permalink
    July 19, 2021 10:08 am

    There was recently a GWPF paper (THE HIDDEN COST OF NET ZERO – REWIRING THE UK – Mike Travers) showing that EV charging and boiler-replacement heat pumps will greatly exceed the limit of typical house distribution boards and main fuses: typically 80A or 60A in newer houses. This new loads would need 200A, so rewired house, new distribution board, digging up the floor and drive to lay new feeder cable, and digging up the road to lay new local 3phase feeder back to new 3x sized transformer, etc.

    What it didn’t mention was that all the ‘smart’ meters, being installed for £billions, will be grossly undersized and need to be replaced, to handle the higher current. More $bn wasted.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: