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14 May 2024

Boiler Upgrade Scheme: What are the latest updates?

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist

In an ambitious bid to steer the nation towards cleaner energy, the UK government has rolled out substantial updates to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), aimed at promoting the adoption of heat pumps across the country. 

Despite these efforts, recent figures indicate that the scheme is struggling to meet its targets, with only 65,000 units sold in 2023 — far short of the annual goal of 600,000 by 2028. Due to this shortfall, the government is making extra efforts to try and increase this number by adding to the existing Boiler Upgrade Scheme. 

Understanding the Boiler Upgrade Scheme

The BUS offers a generous £7,500 grant to households to help them install heat pumps, which are eco-friendly alternatives to traditional gas boilers. This initiative is central to the government’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions and meet climate goals. However, adoption rates have been underwhelming, prompting the government to re-evaluate the scheme’s structure and incentives.

Recent amendments to spur growth

In response to the sluggish uptake, the government has introduced several key amendments to the BUS.

Differentiated grant levels

Understanding the diverse needs of households, the scheme now features varied grant levels. Properties that are off the gas grid or switching from high-carbon fuels like coal, oil, and liquefied petroleum gas will see different categories, reflecting the complexity and cost associated with their transition to greener alternatives.

Relaxed eligibility requirements

In a significant move, the scheme has eased some of the eligibility requirements. Previously, households needed to have up-to-date Energy Performance Certificates without pending insulation improvements to qualify for the grant. Now, the requirement for insulation has been relaxed, allowing more people to benefit from the BUS. 

Exclusion of hybrid technology

Despite adjustments, the government has chosen not to include hybrid heating systems — which combine traditional boilers with heat pumps — in the BUS. This decision keeps the focus on high-temperature heat pumps, although it has sparked some debate regarding the potential benefits of hybrid technologies.

Funding and future projections

There are concerns about the distribution of funds allocated for the BUS. Originally promised a budget of £1.5 billion spread evenly from 2025 to 2028, the government has now opted for an uneven allocation.

This uneven distribution likely refers to how the funds have been split over these years, which could affect various stakeholders involved in the scheme, such as suppliers, installers, and possibly regional administrators who are responsible for implementing the upgrades. This adjustment raises doubts about meeting the installation targets, with a forecasted shortfall that could severely impact the scheme’s effectiveness.

Criticisms and calls for more incentives

Critics argue that the relaxed insulation requirements might lead to inefficient heat pump performance. They fear this could potentially counteract the energy savings and environmental benefits the scheme aims to achieve. 

There is also a growing call for additional incentives, such as council tax reductions, to make low-carbon heating options more attractive to consumers.

Looking ahead

Despite these regulatory changes and expanded eligibility criteria, it’s vital that more people take up the BUS.  The government faces a steep challenge in achieving its clean heating targets by 2028. 

For the UK to transition successfully to a greener heating future, it’s essential to ensure a more robust framework of incentives to engage the public.

As the scheme evolves, it remains to be seen whether these amendments will provide the necessary boost to heat pump sales, or if the government will need to make further adjustments. The success of the BUS is not just pivotal for meeting climate targets but also for setting a precedent in how the UK approaches the broader challenge of sustainable energy transition.

Begin your upgrade today with SpotDif

As the UK forges ahead with its ambitious plans for greener heating, why not let SpotDif help you navigate the opportunities?

Visit SpotDif to compare heat pump installers, read reviews, and find the right deal for your home. Don't miss out on the benefits of upgrading to a more sustainable heating system today.

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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