The government needs to expand the scope of its heating plans to improve energy efficiency across the home, rather than just upgrading boilers, argued the boss of a leading radiator manufacturer.
Trevor Harvey, chief executive of Stelrad – Europe’s largest radiator manufacturer – told City A.M. that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is too narrow in its ambitions.
He labelled heat pumps as “only one part of the solution to decarbonising the home” and encouraged the government to broaden the scheme to encourage homes to retrofit.
“This needs to be a government wide initiative about decarbonising the home, not just the gas boiler. It needs to the need to improve the fabric of the home – they need to look at the entire heating system,” he said.
Harvey argued that while “heat pumps heat pumps appear to be the winning technology when it comes to zero carbon heat sources,” the government has to match installation plans with commitments for upgrading the efficiency of people’s homes.
The Stelrad boss also called for public information campaigns over the benefits of the new technology, to convince more people to embrace the scheme.
“This needs to be a government wide initiative about decarbonising the home, not just the gas boiler. It needs to the need to improve the fabric of the home – they need to look at the entire heating system…”Trevor Harvey, chief executive of Stelrad
In his view, it was difficult to see the government reaching its net zero goals or energy efficiency ambitions purely through installing heating pumps.
He said: “I think the scheme needs to be broadened in terms of the areas that it supports – there needs to be more funding and a significant increase in the amount of education to households from the government.
“This is more than one product specific. The government needs to embark upon a more effective communication strategy supported by the industry.”
When approached for comment, a government spokesperson said: “Despite it being a challenging year for the energy sector, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme has paid out £38.3m of vouchers to installers so far. Industry has reacted positively to the scheme during its first year, with suppliers developing competitive offers alongside the grant.
“We’ve recently launched a targeted marketing campaign to increase public awareness, with the scheme also being part of the government’s wider energy efficiency awareness campaign.”
Harvey’s comments come the same day Stelrad unveiled bumper full-year results, including a revenue increase of 14.6 per to £312.1m and an adjusted profit increase of 12.9 per cent to £24.3m.
Total dividends per share has risen eight-fold to 7.64p.
Government set to miss ambitious energy goals
Downing Street is targeting 600,000 heat pumps a year fitted by 2028 to lower UK carbon emissions and help cut energy usage by 15 per cent.
It is offering £5,000 grants in England and Wales through the £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme – which has enabled suppliers such as Octopus Energy and British Gas owner Centrica to slash their prices to under £3,000 with the subsidy.
Heat pumps work compress air to heat up and then circulating it through buildings, ultimately providing a greener solution to boilers.
The devices last 20 years (twice as long as a gas boiler) and can take at least 25 per cent off a households heating costs on an operating basis.
However, the government has found it difficult to convince homeowners to embrace the new technology.
As of January, just a third of the £450m funding pot has been allocated, with the House of Lords environment and climate change committee warning that the project is “seriously failing.”
Meanwhile, government ambitions to raise the energy efficiency of UK homes also look challenging – with insulation essential to lowering bills and securing the most value out of new technologies like heat pumps.
The government is aiming for all properties to have an average from Energy Performance Certificate of C – which is average – or higher by 2035.
To this end, it has committed nearly £13bn in energy efficiency funding over the next decade for insulation across households.
However, it is playing catch-up with only 40 per cent of UK homes estimated to have an EPC rating of C or above, with energy efficiency installations dropping sharply over the 2010s.
A study from EDF Energy last year revealed the insulation age of UK homes to be at least 46 years old.
The energy giant surveyed 2,000 UK homeowners, revealing more than than half (58 per cent) the country’s households only meet the insulation standards of 1976 or older.
Less than a tenth of homes scrutinised by the firm have an insulation age of 20 years or younger.