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:

4.7 19 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 2:22 am

Oh it’s going to cost far far more when you factor in EVs and charging. This plus th emove to electric heating will require

All household wiring to be replaced
All fuses boxes to be replaced
All cabling to houses to be replaced.

London, 16 July: The UK faces a £200 billion bill to rewire the country if the government follows through on plans to electrify the country’s homes and transport systems. That’s because installation of electric car chargers and heat pumps will push up demand for power beyond the capacity of the existing wiring.

The findings are set out in a new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is published today. According to author Mike Travers, this will mean that most streets in the UK will need to be dug up (with diesel-driven machinery):

“At present new home car chargers and heat pumps are using up all the spare capacity. But we will soon reach the point where the network will not be able to handle the extra demand. So in towns and cities, the underground cables which carry the power will be inadequate. That means that we are going to have to dig up almost every urban street and many rural ones too. The whole distribution grid is going to need to be replaced.”

And the cables that carry power into the homes will need to be dug up too.”

And all this as we plunge into a Grand Solar Minimum.

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 3:30 am

Drop in voltage at any distance from transformer will be noticeable, people will have to choose cooker or heating, having lunch or keeping warm, alternatively gather family around the cooker.
I replaced my old gas boiler (lasted 30 years) with a more efficient brand new one, as long as there is any gas in the pipes I’m not getting rid of it.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Vuk
July 18, 2021 4:43 am

Many people, mainly the poor and elderly, have had to make that choice for decades in the UK. It’s showing up in poverty stats here in Australia for about 10 years now IIRC.

Last year I helped out someone who had an AU$800+ monthly power bill, unexpected (Really?), deducted from her bank account leaving only AU100 until next pay to buy groceries and pay other expenses. She has since changed the payment method and changed her energy use.

Bob boder
Reply to  Vuk
July 18, 2021 5:53 am

Not that I am defending this nonsense but, capacitors .

Reply to  Bob boder
July 18, 2021 8:58 am

Yeah, and where do you think the electricity to CHARGE those capacitors comes from?? And, besides, they would have to be about the size of the moon to do any good!

Reply to  Bob boder
July 19, 2021 8:44 pm

“Not that I am defending this nonsense but, capacitors”

What about those capacitors? Need some extra filtering on your DC power supplies? Got a motor that won’t start?

Please explain to us how capacitors factor into this.

Rick C
Reply to  Vuk
July 18, 2021 7:53 am

Vuk: It’s even worse when you consider that much of the electricity will be generated by natural gas back-up plants due to the unreliable wind/solar problem. Electrical generation by modern CCGT is still only about 50% efficient when used for heating via heat pumps. But modern gas boilers and furnaces are 90+% efficient. So the switch will almost surely produce an increase in natural gas consumption, not a decrease.

Eric Harpham
Reply to  Vuk
July 18, 2021 9:20 am

Agreed. Me to. Following the success of the Brexit party maybe we should form a “NO Net Zero” party main objective repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act and subsequent Legislation. What is passed into law can always be repealed.

Reply to  Vuk
July 19, 2021 2:42 am

Hi Vuk. Find out what circuit boards generally require replacement and buy a couple ahead of time. IMO govt will ban new sales and manufacturers will stop supporting existing equipment or simply go out of business.

There is no way to repair a faulty board because there is no documentation and repairmen are only trained at the board replacement level.

The most likely death an any existing installation will be lack of essential spare parts.

robin townsend
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 4:06 am

i was discussing this with my oil fired boiler servicing chap. My boiler is rated at something like 14KW. No way my electrics would take that load, nor will anyone elses. I am starting a new career guerilla installing gas and oil fired boilers with modular components.

Jeroen B.
Reply to  robin townsend
July 18, 2021 4:36 am

Careful or you’ll be wanted for Plumbing Without A Licence. 😉

Burgher King
Reply to  Jeroen B.
July 18, 2021 7:58 am

Remember Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil? From Wikipedia: “In a dystopian, polluted, hyper-consumerist, overbearing bureaucratic totalitarian future somewhere in the 20th century, Sam Lowry is a low-level government employee who frequently dreams of himself as a winged warrior saving a damsel in distress. One day, shortly before Christmas, a fly becomes jammed in a teleprinter, which misprints a copy of an arrest warrant it was receiving. This leads to the arrest and death during interrogation of cobbler Archibald Buttle instead of renegade heating engineer and suspected terrorist Archibald Tuttle.”

Jeroen B.
Reply to  Burgher King
July 18, 2021 1:08 pm

I’m glad someone caught the reference 🙂 Have an upvote!

michael hart
Reply to  Jeroen B.
July 18, 2021 5:10 pm

Great film. It ended on a sad note, though, didn’t it? The system won in the end.

Fantastic to see Michael Palin trying to play a bad guy.

Reply to  michael hart
July 19, 2021 8:18 am

Lowry’s mother looks EXACTLY like the plastic surgery addict San Fran Nan.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  robin townsend
July 18, 2021 6:49 am

The mythology is that (under ideal circumstances) you can pump 3 to 4 times the heat for a given input of electric power. Thus your 14KW boiler could (in theory) be replaced by a 3 to 4 KW heatpump.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 18, 2021 8:41 am

I have an air source heat pump to heat my garage/shop. It works great to heat my shop to 68F (20 C) when the outside air is above 50F (10 C). As the outside air drops below ~40F (5 C) it runs nearly continuously to keep up. Much below 40 F it no longer runs continuously as it has to frequently pause to defrost its evaporator with resistance heating elements and the garage cycles between warm and cold. Below 32F (0 C), it’s not much better than resistance heating. At that point I usually abandon the shop to my warm house heated by a gas furnace. Air source heat pumps aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  meab
July 18, 2021 10:07 am

I couldn’t believe the article said they work in cold weather, the not below 35F has been known since the 70s. Is there any one pushing “green” who had the most minimal technical knowledge?

Jake J
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
July 18, 2021 6:23 pm

Air source heat pumps have improved. The one in our house works okay down to freezing.

Reply to  Jake J
July 19, 2021 2:50 am

“works OK” ? What does that mean?
When freezing outside the COP will be down near 1:1 and you may as well plug in an electric radiator.

That is the big lie of this article. Scandinavia will be using ground sourced heat-exchangers yet they bundle it all in a generic claim that they work in colder climates.

Reply to  meab
July 18, 2021 11:53 am

Our heating is by heat-pump. This is in Oregon (about the same latitude as Bordeaux), and with the Pacific ocean about 50 miles away to moderate winter temperatures.

The biggest advantage is that it also works in reverse in the summer months to cool the house. That, of course, would not work in the UK if they simply put a heat-pump in place of a gas boiler to heat water.

As others have mentioned, when the temperature drops below about 45ºF (7ºC) it begins to have problems keeping up. Drop to anywhere below about 35ºF (1.5ºC) and it basically doesn’t work. To compensate, the system has a 15kW heating element which takes over (and electricity bill sky-rockets).

Reply to  Philip
July 18, 2021 4:04 pm

I live in Arizona and have a heat pump we seldom get below 40F yet I do have electric coils in my furnace to supplement the heat pump. Previously my furnace heat only on electric coils, when my new furnace was installed I was told my electricity consumption would go down in the winter guess what no change. It would be a lot cheaper using gas to heat with.

Reply to  Philip
July 19, 2021 2:28 am

We have had air-to-air heat pump for 15 years. It works fine down to -15 celsius. In -20 it still works, but the COP rate is less than 2 to 1. At -25 celsius the COP is close to one – so it works basically as electric radiator.

But this is for air-to-air pump. Ground-to-water-pump does not care about outside temperature. If it is large enough it can keep you house warm without any additional heating elements even if the outside temperature is -25 celsius.

Reply to  Pasi
July 19, 2021 5:03 pm

Please provide the make and model of this air source heat pump.

Thank you.

Steven Pfeiffer
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 18, 2021 9:11 am

Unless the 14 kW boiler is an electric boiler, you are comparing apples and oranges.

If the 14 kW boiler is an electric resistance boiler, you are about right.

Jake J
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 18, 2021 6:21 pm

I’m going to post a long and thorough comment below, so for now just this: An air-source heat pump is about 2-1/2x as efficient as bare coils, declining as the outside temp goes below freezing.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 19, 2021 2:54 am

The mythology is that (under ideal circumstances) you can pump 3 to 4 times the heat for a given input of electric power. Thus your 14KW boiler could (in theory) be replaced by a 3 to 4 KW heatpump.

Exactly , it’s a mythology because that is ideal circumstances and you need to plan you heating system for ALL circumstances. At that point you will be lucky is the COP 1.5 , so you need to install 12kW heat pump and all the wiring that goes with it.

With UK 240V supply that’s almost 50A rated wiring !! That’s industrial, not domestic.

Reply to  Greg
July 19, 2021 3:11 am

This varies from country to country. In Finland (230 V) the main fuses in the houses are typically either 3 x 25 A or 3 x 35 A.

Reply to  Pasi
July 19, 2021 5:17 pm

So 3 phase. It is very hard to get 3 phase to a house in the US, although I know of some connected people who have gotten that to their homes,

Typical US residential, as well as some light commercial is single phase, 120/240.

Reply to  Drake
July 20, 2021 1:37 pm

Here we have 3-phase electrical connectivity to almost all town houses. We have ”sauna” in majority of town houses and that itself requires 3-phase connection and minimum of 4.5 kW power.

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 4:58 am

At present new home car chargers and heat pumps are using up all the spare capacity

You just have free yourself from all these petty small minded constraints and think BIG and feel the creative energy flow-
Electric vehicles on world’s roads expected to increase to 145m by 2030 | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars | The Guardian

How Many Cars are There in the World? (

Eric Harpham
Reply to  observa
July 18, 2021 9:26 am

According to Google, when I last looked, there are 1,200,000,000 and likely to increase to 1.4 BILLION by 2035, so their 145 million is part of the amount being added not replacements.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Eric Harpham
July 18, 2021 6:14 pm

Most of those electric vehicles are cheap little two wheelers driven by people too drunk to keep a license 🙄

Reply to  Matthew Bergin
July 18, 2021 9:40 pm

Sounds like they include minimalist battery operated vehicles:
golf carts,
pallet jacks and trucks,
cherry pickers,
factory carts,
etc. etc.

Every indoor commercial operation uses battery vehicles to move stock and eliminate indoor carbon monoxide.

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 5:11 am

You can add to this the mountains of insulation required to bring old housing stock up to ‘standard’ (impossible) and the emissions required to manufacture all this for millions of households in the UK.

You can also add the replacement of kitchens and bathrooms which will need to be ripped out so walls can be insulated. Then there’s the entire redecoration of the whole house.

Then there’s carpets and flooring. None of this will be possible without whole house ventilation unless we are prepared to live in moulding, rotting conditions. Floors and/or ceilings will need to be lifted and relaid to accommodate trunking and expensive heat exchangers installed at exhaust vents.

Several years ago, in anticipation of all this, I costed doing much of this to my modest, three bedroom Victorian, EOT cottage. It was, bare minimum, £100,000.

I wrote to my MP and he passed my letter onto central government. I had a bog standard reply back stating exactly what they are maintaining here, increased demand will reduce component cost. The only problem is, even halving the cost of a heat pump only reduced the total cost to £90,000.

I was delighted (or perhaps disappointed) to read Professor Michael Kelly’s investigation into the process on a nationwide basis, he estimated the cost per household to be between £75,000 and £100,000.

Prof Kelly also pointed to the labour issue as well, citing that the country has less than one third of the physical manpower required to conduct this ‘transformation’. Guess what? That will require lots of immigrant labour, once again…….

The only people gaining from this process will be the banks when millions of householders are required to borrow £,100,000 each to convert their homes under threat of it being illegal to sell a home that’s not up to the required Net Zero standards.

It will be a Banking Bonanza.

Reply to  HotScot
July 18, 2021 5:33 am

Adding insulation to the outside of the house is way easier in situations where that can be done.

I suspect we’ll end up living like they did more than a hundred years ago. Folks used to live in one room of the house, the kitchen, most of the time during cold weather. Then in the evening they’d haul a hot water bottle to bed.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 8:44 am

I experienced that as a guest of a friend in Oxford, England in the early 1960s.

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 8:45 am

Adding insulation to the outside of the house is indeed the easiest way and avoids the problem of cold bridges, but nimbies will be up in arms when the whole of Chester gets covered in render

Mark D
Reply to  Redge
July 18, 2021 2:57 pm

Where does the moisture inside the house end up?
(Socratic question I was a HVAC/R service engineer for 40 yrs)

Reply to  Mark D
July 18, 2021 5:31 pm

The question is where the vapor barrier goes. In a heating climate, the vapor barrier has to be between the insulation and the heated space elsewise, as you well know, there could be house destroying condensation problems*. There is also the potential problem of mold and mildew which are distinctly unhealthy for the occupants.

In a retrofit, the vapor barrier can be a real bear. As we insulate better and seal better, heat recovery ventilation is becoming standard equipment.

In old leaky houses it was common to humidify in the winter. With new almost airtight houses, the problem is getting rid of humidity.

*I remember an unusual case where the occupants kept the indoor climate something like a jungle. The builder hadn’t properly sealed the vapor barrier in the vicinity of the back door. Wood rot set in and the owners sued the builder. He lost in spite of arguing that reasonable people would not maintain such an extreme level of humidity in a house.

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 9:22 pm

Surface condensation is easy to deal with but most people won’t open their windows but will complain instead.

Placing the insulation on the outside should deal with most issues associated with interstitial condensation

Alternatively, you could employ the services of an HVAC engineer 😉

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 9:25 am

It is expensive either way.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 3:52 pm

A major problem with adding insulation to the outside wall (i.e., cold side) of the house is moisture control. For moisture control a low permeability barrier is normally placed on the warm side of any exterior wall, i.e. the inside of the wall in cold environments and the exterior in warm environments. If not done properly moisture will condense within the wall and provide a breeding ground for mold and mildew, eventually rotting out the exterior wall and making the house uninhabitable.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
July 18, 2021 11:27 pm

plus the insulation is a major fire hazard
remember the London Towers fire
Need to be extremely careful as the most popular insulation is a major fire hazard
Plus from my memory most houses in Britain are terrace houses so you also need to work with your neighbours

Good luck
Abandon UK, Canada Europe etc and move to the tropics
7 billion people between 10 degrees of the Equator and 15 degrees for a comfortable climate

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 4:11 pm

Adding insulation to the outside of a house is no less fraught with problems, not least us all living in some sort of grey box with all architectural endeavour swamped by insulation.

Fake Tudor/Georgian Barrett hybrids are bad enough but at least when the archaeologists come along in a million years time they won’t think we are all some boring unimaginative f@rts.

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2021 9:54 pm

That does not make the cost less, commieBob.
Back in the 1970s, many businesses and even some homeowners upped their insulation levels on the exterior.

Most turned out to be installed by licensed contractors skilled at measuring and hand fit masonry installation. stucco, windows, corners, foundation, roof lines, vents. All of which require careful fitting to maintain insulative quality and weather protection.

Exterior insulation requires protection form sunlight, moisture and oxygen.

It was expensive and requires significant commitment!

Reply to  HotScot
July 18, 2021 7:59 am

You are missing the point….you will be able to keep your gas furnace, no problem….but you will have to send in the £,100,000 as eco-sin tax…

Reply to  DMacKenzie
July 18, 2021 4:13 pm

No. I just have to surrender a £500,000 architecturally valuable house to the state.

Reply to  HotScot
July 18, 2021 1:02 pm

Bingo! This is why central banks are all on board with this; households, businesses and governments will be obliged to get up to their eyeballs in debt to pay for it all.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  HotScot
July 19, 2021 12:13 am

Will that mean that the British taxpayer will get some of his/her money back from when we had to bail them out for their incompetence, after all, we know that banks have no money, it’s their investors/customers money, not their money, but how on Earth do they manage to make money to get their massive bonuses???

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
July 18, 2021 9:17 am

The killer issue for heat pumps that is generally ignored is that they require a large amount of space compared to a gas boiler. Typically a gas combi boiler is the size of a single kitchen wall unit. For an air source heat pump, in addition to the ” air conditioning size unit” located outdoors, a buffer tank, and a hot water tank are required indoors – each the size of a large fridge – freezer, also further space is needed for the necessary control gear and manifolds. Essentially each home that is converted will have to find space for a plant room to house all of the gear few people are going to be prepared to give up that amount of their precious living space for that.

Reply to  Martin
July 18, 2021 4:17 pm

A very good point I didn’t make.

And if people install air source heat pumps in en mass in housing developments, the ambient noise levels will rise considerably.

When the bearings begin to deteriorate and maintenance is neglected the screeching howl in the area will be unbearable.

Jake J
Reply to  HotScot
July 18, 2021 6:28 pm

Oh come on. A heat pump is just a 2-way air conditioner, as opposed to the Spawn of Satan ™

Reply to  Jake J
July 19, 2021 2:56 am

When you have around 1,000 of them in a housing development with a small footprint, the ambient noise levels will rise.

There is no question of this.

I have yet to own a fridge that’s completely silent.

Reply to  HotScot
July 19, 2021 4:32 am

You are correct. Visit a city in a tropical SE Asian country and even in the middle of the night the constant hum of all the A/Cs never stops.

Jake J
Reply to  Martin
July 18, 2021 6:27 pm

We have a heat pump, and what you wrote is simply not true here. And no, I am not the heat pump salesman, but facts are facts.

Reply to  Martin
July 18, 2021 11:29 pm

socialist heating systems of soviet error hot water to the house from a central unit
That is how it is done in Sweden as well

Reply to  Martin
July 19, 2021 2:41 am

Incorrect. Typically air-to-water heat pumps have one cabinet inside the house (size of a large fridge) and external unit outside. Nothing else.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Pasi
July 19, 2021 1:25 pm

So, a lot bigger than a combi gas boiler. In other words, completely impractical for anybody living in a densely populated urban area.

Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
July 20, 2021 1:45 pm

I don’t find a cabinet size of single fridge ”impractical”. That’s the minimum size of heating system here in Finland, since all options require at least that: ground-source heat pump, air-to-water heat pump, heat exchanger for district heating or ”old-school” oil/wood pellet burner.

The only option, which does not require additional space is direct electricity heating.

July 18, 2021 2:25 am

Decarbonising domestic heating: What is the peak GB demand?
The above paper calculates peak heat demand for domestic hot water, heating and cooking in Great Britain. Peak heat demand is 170GW (for a cold winter).

Currently the UK national grid has a maximum output of around 55GW.

Good luck getting heat pumps into the tiny gardens of millions of Victorian terraced houses or flats. Ditto charging stations for all the electric cars we’ll be driving.

Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 2:44 am

This article concentrates on the gigantic installation costs of heat pumps. If heat pumps were cheaper to operate than gas boilers, it might still be possible to make a case for them. Unfortunately, heat pumps are also much more expensive to run than gas boilers. So there is no case at all for installing a heat pump.

Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 3:04 am


I have uprated my hair shirt range to include extra thick sweaters. As we shiver in the much cooler homes that heat pumps will provide we can be assured its all for the best as we gaze at the slogans on our sweaters;

” Burning Gas should be made a thermogenic crime ”
” I may have hypothermia but saved the planet” and the expected best seller
“The Chinese are sure to be following the West’s good example”


Bill Toland
Reply to  tonyb
July 18, 2021 3:22 am

Tony, given the British government’s future plans for our energy, we are all going to need extra thick sweaters. In Scotland, it will be two extra thick sweaters, a balaclava and gloves if we want to wake up in the morning.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 8:51 am

Idea for invention: lightweight astronaut-like suit that is heated for comfort in a frozen unheated home.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 18, 2021 9:45 am

That must be what climate alarmists are talking about when they say that all the current tiny problems with renewable energy will be solved by technological advances.

Mark D
Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 2:59 pm

Gas fired boiler can run 30 yrs with little maintenance cost and virtually no noise.. No heat pump on earth can say that

Reply to  Mark D
July 19, 2021 2:59 am

We replaced our Gas Boiler two years ago. We estimated it was around 50 years old. It was still going strong but spares were impossible to source.

Marlowe Finkenstein
Reply to  Bill Toland
July 24, 2021 10:15 am

Our house in Cornwall (South-west England) was sold to us with an air source heat pump. We were told it would be extremely low cost to run compared to gas fired central heating. We have lived here now for 6 years and I can confidently say it is much more expensive to run than the gas fired system we had in our previous home. I would say that the ASHP is probably cheaper to run than all electric heating system. The ASHP in no way can compete with gas fired heating. I was shocked at the electricity bills we received in our first year here. When I complained to the ASHP installer I was told the problem was I didn’t understand how to operate it! Not true! Also ASHP only can heat very well insulated homes so not good to retro fit in older drafty homes.

July 18, 2021 3:05 am

Heat pumps seem almost sane and cheap compared to this notion;

Take the electric motorway, then continue on the road to ruin | The Conservative Woman

Reply to  tonyb
July 18, 2021 3:17 am

Now imagine the chaos on a “smart motorway”.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  tonyb
July 18, 2021 1:45 pm

How can the “Road Haulage Association claim that its members support the goal of reducing lorry pollution” in this way? They are all extremely practical people with far too much commonsense to believe this unachievable nonsense!

Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 18, 2021 2:38 pm

The members support it, in much the same way the members of various “scientific” and engineering associations support global warming.
The politicians who run these organizations never actually poll the members. They just issue whatever the politically correct statements are and refuse to listen to anyone who disagees.

July 18, 2021 3:11 am

I had a heat pump once; never again.

Giordano Milton
Reply to  Tom
July 18, 2021 5:25 am

I’ve used them, too. They are terrible at heating the house and the resistance backup (when it works) is expensive to operate.

I like natural gas. It’s warm and cost efficient. It’s great for cooking, as well. When it’s on, it’s on, when it’s off, it’s off. And adjustment is instantaneous.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Giordano Milton
July 18, 2021 12:14 pm

“I like natural gas. It’s warm and cost efficient.”

Burning natural gas in the home is the most efficient way to use natural gas.

Julian Flood
July 18, 2021 3:18 am

Gummer? That’s Lord Deben to you peasants. And who elected him? How can we sack him. What conflict of interests has he and the other members of the CCC declared.


Reply to  Julian Flood
July 18, 2021 3:35 am

The beef burger idiot

Reply to  Vuk
July 18, 2021 4:01 am

Yes, but to be fair it was about his only sensible stunt.

Reply to  Disputin
July 18, 2021 4:21 am

Life time legacy, only thing that he will be always remembered for.

alastair gray
July 18, 2021 3:30 am

I had a 1900 built Norwegian farmhouse for 10 years. the house was timber construction with glass fibre insulation. For heating we had 3kw wall electric panels in all rooms , a 7 kw woodburning stove and a 3kw air source heatpump /airconditioner. Since Norway is self sufficient in hydropowerand wood this was all relatively cheap. With stove and heatpump on together the whole house kept warm and I was quite pleased with the heatpump which sat outside and needed a minimal degree of plumbing/connection. A regular electric immersion heater provided the hot water, but we also had an electric shower.
That is Norway. In UK our electricity supply is neither plentiful nor cheap and the house insulation is far less effective than Norway.
In the UK will probably replicate most of this with the exception of the electric panel heaters. I will install for about £1000 a stand alone air source ,hot air output heatpump. They only get horribly expensive when you connect to a central heating system.
We already have a woodburning stove. Showering will be by electric shower.
This takes me back to the comparative austerity of 1950’s rural Aberdeenshire which strangely enough was quite surviveable despite howling draughts from illl-fitting windows.
I would still rather have gas and government alternatives don’t promise any great saving in CO2 emissions when all is taken into account.

Bill Toland
Reply to  alastair gray
July 18, 2021 4:21 am

Wood burning stoves in British cities will almost certainly be banned in the next few years. I have noticed that some greens have proudly stated that they don’t have gas boilers but they almost invariably have wood burning stoves.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 7:00 am

They will have to ban woodburners. Normal people will soon discover that the heatpumps will not keep you warm for an affordable cost whereas woodburners can be run as long as wood can be found in the night. The New Forest would disappear overnight, shortly followed by Kielder, Dean and Sherwood.

Therefore there wil be inspectors with special uniforms and clipboards checking that yoù do not have a wood stove. I can also see said inspectors being beaten up by a populace that had enough.

Peta of Newark
July 18, 2021 3:40 am

Simply forcing people to spend money, in the insane belief that doing so ‘makes you rich’

Well, yes it does. It makes few people (cronies) rich and boosts tax revenue but for the vast majority it pulls them down

It is The Broken Window Fallacy being played out on epic scale

Nordic countries use a lot of what they call ‘Heat from rocks’ = reasonably shallow Geothermal Heat. It is nothing to do with the Heat Pumps envisioned here.

Most UK heat pumps will have to be Air Source pumps which will start to freeze their external heat-collector at temps below 10°C with typical UK humidity, or 5°C in very dry atmospherics

When that happens they either:

  • repeatedly try to defrost themselves (wastefully burning energy)
  • give up ‘Heat Pumping’ and simply switch on an immersion heating element = minimum of 6kW, typically 10kW and possibly bigger.

The numbers are mind-blowing ain’t they?
30 million homes burning 10kW each before offices, shops and other workplaces pull even more.
Add on the ‘normal’ 1kW UK (lighting, cooking and infotainment) demand plus another 0.5kW+ to charge the (mandatory) EV.

Work it out…. and all supposedly coming from a grid presently capable of supplying 55GW max
While Boris the Buffoon, under the influence of his Princess Nut Nuts, trumpets that the UK will soon be “The Saudi Arabia of Wind
(She gives herself away rather doncha think…….)

There are some very strong and unpleasant words could be used to describe the people promoting this….
They will be/are herding & stampeding people to their graves.

and all coming from the Lala Land of Good Intentions, Political Correctness, Magical Thinking and self-brainwashing where they all know what Trapped Heat is

at this moment I feel sooooo deeply sad there aren’t the words……….

Jean Parisot
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 18, 2021 4:09 am

Every time I look at this, I see neighborhood scale nuclear as the design goal.

Steve Case
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 18, 2021 4:22 am

It is The Broken Window Fallacy being played out on epic scale


Every time the Climate Crusaders say their policies create jobs, it needs to be pointed out that they are engaging in the make work Broken Window Fallacy.

Reply to  Steve Case
July 18, 2021 11:15 am

Not merely the “fallacy” of replacing something that need not be replaced, but also, in the UK, wasting a resource that is already in short supply. With a median household income about 60% of that in the US, the price of housing is already about 1.6+ times above the US, implying a shortage, already, of home construction labor and capital. So the UK government plans to waste billions of the available construction labor and capital replacing perfectly good stuff instead of building new housing. — Sad!!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 18, 2021 6:18 pm

Only 0.5kW to charge your EV? You wouldn’t get to the end of your street off that !

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 19, 2021 2:50 am

You wrote: ”Nordic countries use a lot of what they call ‘Heat from rocks’ = reasonably shallow Geothermal Heat. It is nothing to do with the Heat Pumps envisioned here.”

Not correct. This is somewhat valid only for Iceland, but not for Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Finland.

Only in Iceland the geothermal energy is a valid heat source.

You wrote: ”Most UK heat pumps will have to be Air Source pumps which will start to freeze their external heat-collector at temps below 10°C with typical UK humidity, or 5°C in very dry atmospherics”

Not correct. Air-to-air heat pump works fine down to -20 celsius. I can say this from 14 years if experience.

At -5 to 5 it works extremely well with COP rate over four to five. So you get up to 5 times heat as you spend to electricity.

Devils Tower
July 18, 2021 4:04 am

Here in US(country living) if I was told to go all electric there would be an all out rebellion.

I live in north and have a combination now of ground geo, supplimental electic/gas, wood, and low voltage gas for when the electricity goes off.

My background is engineering and I know how all this works. In simple terms…

My transformer would not support all electric, it was upgraded for geo already. Geo does best for moderate tempatures.

I am getting to old to continue cutting fire wood.

Cold climate air source heat pumps are a joke as a stand alone. You need a full back heat system behind them In cold weather. They still work at say 0f, but look at the minimum rated btu output when cold. Maybe 25% of rated output when at say 50f. I am sure air source heat pumps in Texas contributed to disaster when they droped out below 32f. There is only so much sensible heat in the air. Read the fine print….

I am looking to down size in retirement, beware of the CCASHP spin… I look at it as blatant fraud.

You will never see me on roof shoveling snow off a solar panel.


Even if we magicly had free electric from fusion power, it would not be easy getting to a point to use it.

Reply to  Devils Tower
July 18, 2021 7:38 am

“Cold climate air source heat pumps are a joke as a stand alone. You need a full back heat system behind them In cold weather.”

Sounds like unreliables, You need full backup when the wind doesn’t blow or blows too hard at night. That would usually be the same time you would need backup for your heat pump.

This is all brilliant! So smart only a liberal could think it up. No conservative is intelligent enough to understand that IT WILL WORK.

Reply to  Drake
July 18, 2021 2:43 pm

This was one of the problems in Texas this past winter. Because so many new houses came equipped with heat pumps, the amount of electricity demanded sky rocketed as ir became colder and heat pumps gave up trying to pull heat out of the cold air and switched over to resistive heat.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Devils Tower
July 18, 2021 8:07 am

I have experience with two heat pumps at about 28 and 30 degrees N where they have gotten much more efficient, especially for cooling. There they fill a niche most of the time, no way I would have one farther north both from experience and how they operate. Our Texas situation was visually predictable from the addition of windmills, not so much the incompetence of not using a long enough history for backup, along with a myriad of other, mostly preventable actions. It has been known for decades that this is wasting money that could be used for better purposes concerning energy. Also the last couple of generations apparently have some responsibility for not educating the current one making policy.

There is a long history of Texas freezes that I posted before and cool fronts south seem to be common this summer.

Jake J
Reply to  Devils Tower
July 18, 2021 6:34 pm

“Cold climate air source heat pumps are a joke as a stand alone. You need a full back heat system behind them In cold weather.”

We have a heat pump and backup propane furnace. We could probably be all heat pump, but the unit would’ve had to be much larger.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Jake J
July 19, 2021 1:36 pm

Fossil fuels to the rescue I see, again.

July 18, 2021 4:08 am

Heat pumps use refrigerant. Some newer, even more expensive ones use CO2 as a refrigerant, but most use R410a.
R410a is a combination of difluoromethane (CH2F2) and pentafluoroethane (CHF2CF3).
Pentafluoroethane, per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a global warming potential 3450 times that of carbon dioxide.
Difluoromethane has a 100-year global warming potential (GWP) of 675 times that of carbon dioxide.
Difluoromethane is made using a hazardous process using dichloromethane and hydrogen fluoride.
Dichloromethane is produced by treating either chloromethane or methane with chlorine gas at 400–500 °C. The process creates chloromethane, dichloromethane, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride as well as hydrogen chloride as a byproduct.
Hydrogen fluoride gas (hydroflouric acid as a liquid when diluted with water) is highly dangerous. The gas forms corrosive and penetrating hydrofluoric acid upon contact with moisture. The gas can also cause blindness by rapid destruction of the corneas.
Base base chemical of both difluoromethande and pentafluoroethane depend upon fossil fuels for extraction and production. There is hazardous chemical waste, fossil fuel waste, and waste CO2 from their production. They cannot be made using only renewable energy sources or bio chemicals.
New heat pumps run quite well even at record low temperatures, but they are better at cooling than heating. How many older homes in Britain are equipped with forced air heating and air conditioning systems needed to effectively circulate conditioned air?
They require constant maintenance, just like any other heat source, and are always a source of leakage of R410.
Most of the preceding was cribbed from public sources that are easily accessed.

Perhaps a chemical or mechanical engineer could estimate the increased and continuing production of current-technology R410a needed to replace 1 million furnaces and boilers with heat pumps and maintain them for 20 years?

Even without the estimate, heat pumps obviously provide a quite expensive, ineffective, non-solution to a non-problem with even greater dependence on fossil fuels and greater environmental impact than the systems they replace.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 4:27 am


How many older homes in Britain are equipped with forced air heating and air conditioning systems needed to effectively circulate conditioned air?”

Very few mostly because they use vast amounts of electricity and that has always been expensive in the UK.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 18, 2021 5:22 am

I don’t know anybody with air conditioning in their homes. In Scotland, it would be pretty pointless.

Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 6:04 am

Perhaps, Patrick and Bill, I should have developed that point more. In my experience, heat pump systems require forced air distribution similar to what is used in central air conditioning systems. In an “upgrade” it would not be a matter of simply replacing the boiler or a furnace, but also knocking holes in walls and ceilings to install air ducting, and the use of a large volume air handler/blower with a filtration system.
My short visists to Oxfordshire in the ’90s and early ’00s were both in summer, both experienced what the locals called “heat waves,” and in neither do I recall ever encountering central air circulating systems. I did find a few single room air conditioners, and a few computer server centers where I sometimes worked had great ventilation and cooling systems, but I never encountered any in private homes or the lodgings where I stayed.
My main point was the hazardous chemical and “green house gas” issues involved with heat pumps are under emphasized. Perhaps my second should have stated more clearly that modifications involved in replacing a boiler or gas-fired heater with a heat pump are not as cheap or easy (or sometimes at all possible) as some people seem to predict, and that I don’t think that this article has quite caught up with or exposed that part of the expense.

Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 6:54 am

The only places outside of a car where I have come across air conditioning is in (music) rehearsal and recording studios.

No residents have it, they use fans.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 7:47 am

Very few houses have ducted air heating/cooling in the UK. They are mostly wall mounted water filled radiators fed by an electric or gas boiler which also supplies hot water to the house, albeit they are separate systems within the hot water storage tank. There are a good few who are all electric with wall mounted storage heaters that also use off-peak power to heat up over night.

So each house would have to have a complete functional system removed and re-installed with air ducting and heat pump. I guess that is why the costs are ridiculously high. Putting aside the expense of making the things.

Knowing what a typical 3 bedroom house gas fired central heating system looks like in the UK, the waste would be enormous.

Mind you, the UK did some major work in the 1970’s when town gas (TG) replaced natural gas (NG). These streets were full of the parts that could not burn NG which was mostly everything that burnt TG.

It is pure madness. I am sure there are some politicians that have a “vested interest” in this policy.

Jake J
Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 6:37 pm

No question, in the real world heat pumps require forced air. But look on the bright side: They are air conditioners too.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Bill Toland
July 18, 2021 7:50 am

When I lived in the UK I never knew of anyone with air/con. Gas, electric, oil or solid fuel.

July 18, 2021 4:23 am

In many cases – Victorian, Edwardian houses etc – it would be cheaper to demolish perfectly good housers and start again.

Nobody will be able to afford this insanity, certainly not I

Giordano Milton
July 18, 2021 4:47 am

Better hope for mild winters. Heat pumps don’t really work well when it’s actually cold—they work very hard to deliver any heat at all when it’s truly cold. And that means even more electricity for little heat. I hope they are also building more electric plants (no doubt powered by coal or natural gas).

Here in my home, when its -25C or less, I would get nothing for all that work, but burning natural gas always produces heat.

Reply to  Giordano Milton
July 18, 2021 5:11 am

In the U.S., the newest, most efficient and expensive heat pumps are quite effective even down to -20F (-29C). Even in areas that never approach that temperature, they are often equipped with “emergency” heat systems that are usually of the electrical resistance sort. These are quite inefficient at producing heat, and more than double the electrical use.

Giordano Milton
Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 5:17 am

I’ve lived with heat pumps with electric resistance heat. They’re great for places like Florida, not so great for places like Colorado or Montana

In places like Italy, where houses have little electric capacity, not only do the people need more power, but they need larger electric panels and wiring, not to mention transmission lines . . . and all while pushing electric vehicles as well.

Meanwhile, the natural gas burns the same at every temperature, only duty cycle adjustment is needed.

Reply to  dk_
July 18, 2021 6:37 am

In order to get any heat out of -20F air, the working fluid is going to have to be cooled down to at least -40F. I don’t see that being done in a single loop system.

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2021 2:48 pm

Two compressors. Double the energy required to run the system, more than double the cost to buy the system.

Tom Johnson
July 18, 2021 5:22 am

I’ve been a heat pump user since 1988 when I installed a ground water heat pump sourced by well water, and discharged into another well in a new house. I sized it large enough to never need back up resistance heating. I currently live in a house heated by two air sourced heat pumps. My experiences have been all bad.

The discharge well quickly failed to accept the flow, so I switched to lake discharge. The lines to that also plugged and had to be replaced after a period of time. The system was also a maintenance nightmare. It required regular wiring and relay changes. The ground water cooling did work great, and the domestic hot water heating portion worked fine, as long as the heat pump was working. I replaced the entire heating system with a gas boiler when the water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger started leaking refrigerant ten years after installation.

My current home in south Texas is heated with two air sourced heat pumps. One has back up resistance heaters. I went through the heart of the wind turbine power outages in Texas last winter. Though I was surrounded by homes and businesses subjected to the rolling blackouts, I had power the whole time. The backup resistance heating kept the house warm, though we reduced the temperature setting at the requests of the power company. The system without backup froze into a solid ice block twice. Fortunately, it’s warm enough here that the ground water is over 70 degrees, and I was able to thaw it out with well water baths for a half hour each time.

Though unnecessary to use, my power backup plan would have failed completely. Many water systems quickly froze. I kept my well trickling to prevent freeze up. Snow (? what’s that?) on the roads prevented truck traffic and the gas stations quickly ran out of gas and grocery stores quickly ran out of groceries. Without gasoline replenishment my backup generator would have stopped in an hour, or so. That would have stopped all heating and water. I don’t store much gasoline because it goes bad because of the hot summers.

Note much of this was caused by failure of wind turbine generator failures, exacerbated by bad government policy. As for snow covered roads, I don’t blame policy. Even if the road commissions had bought and saved snow plows from the last such event, there would have been no horse teams to pull them.

Barnes Moore
July 18, 2021 5:32 am

Scale is a foreign concept to greens. They have no idea what is required to replace fossil fuels with weather dependent, intermittent and therefore unreliable energy sources. It’s an impossibility, ever, but they will continue to push until one of 2 things happen, IMO. One, we completely bankrupt ourselves, or 2, some massive grid failure occurs lasting more than a few days affecting millions of people with too many deaths where the cause is indisputably due to over-reliance on unreliables at the expense of reliable energy from fossil fuels. China and Russia may or may not have been the source of the lunacy being inflicted on the west, but they could not have hoped for a better outcome than what is happening.

Reply to  Barnes Moore
July 18, 2021 8:45 am

Just imagine an event like the Puerto Rico hurricane, where the entire electrical grid was wiped out. Without fossil fuels it would have been impossible to reboot the system – driving trucks for relief supplies, backup generators for hospitals, homes and business, etc. millions would have died within a week or two.

July 18, 2021 5:41 am

I have a heat pump. I hate it. The house is never warm, unless you are sitting in front of the wood stove, and the blower is loud. And that is the newer more efficient one. Wish i could reasonably have something else.

Ben Vorlich
July 18, 2021 6:16 am

DECC The Department of Energy and Climate Change

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. Upton Sinclair.

Don’t think there are many people in the UK whose salary is more dependent on Climate Change than those working at DECC

Rich Lentz
July 18, 2021 6:17 am

The one thing those selling Heat pumps NEVER tell you is that if you have a forced air heating system, once the outside temperature is below ~40 F or ~5 C you will feel cold in the house relative to when it was heated with gas. When I installed a Heat Pump I had to set the temperature 2 degrees higher to feel comfortable. And that was with a sweater on! And as others had said here with baseboard or under floor radiant heat using water in pipes the temperature of the radiators is also much lower. Definitely do not have to worry about burning your hands/fingers. Forget about steam radiators!

I have also learned that the manufactures fudge the indicated temperature on Thermostats when you have a heat pump. When set for heating the indicated temperature is two degrees higher than the mercury thermometer on my Barometer in the same room. When set for cooling the temperature indicated is two degrees less than the thermometer on my Barometer.

July 18, 2021 6:33 am

The only rational explanation for this climate silliness is China! They are defeating the West by influence peddling in all of our major institutions. While we destroy our economies they are expanding by selling us the goods needed to destroy our system.

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 18, 2021 6:44 am

That John Szymic is a fantasist with his ‘artificially low gas prices’.

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 18, 2021 7:10 am

The heat pumps are made in China by Mitsubishi. Here the installers can earn a token penny by screwing them to the wall.

The Chinese and Japonese in the meantime are on medication for stomach pains brought on by uncontrollable laughter.

July 18, 2021 7:15 am

When Joe Public understands the true costs involved they’ll rebel at the ballot box and I’d be amazed if Government plans for net-zero are met. In fact I’d say there’s a 99.9% likelihood they won’t be. As usual the politicians don’t understand what’s really involved and have made promises and commitments based on the fallacy of ‘cheap alternative energy’. Like tax rises everyone thinks it’s a great idea just as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

Nor is it just the cost. The disruption to people’s lives and their freedoms will also be massive. It ain’t going to happen.

Coach Springer
July 18, 2021 7:18 am

One always wants to see their enemy do things like this to itself. To a friend, it should be more than regrettable.

Coach Springer
July 18, 2021 7:21 am

£11.8 billion ” raises no eyebrow.

Michael in Dublin
July 18, 2021 8:04 am

A “huge education campaign” will not provide poor people with the money needed but only further impoverish them if they have to take out loans. If the rich, politicians and climate activists want the average man in the street and poorer people to go down this route will they pay for these replacements? I think not.

July 18, 2021 9:34 am

Heat pumps are rated at +10C outside temperature. Their output drops in proportion to outside temperature down to their rated minimum where they put out practically nothing. The complete opposite of what the building heat demand requires. Isn’t this the same story with all green tech? Doesn’t work when you need it most.
I have 5 of them on my buildings, since I have only electricity.
Refrigeration repair is pretty expensive too. Requires a special licence.
I would love to have gas service.

Reply to  Billy
July 19, 2021 3:04 am

Air-to-air heat pumps sold here in Finland all work fine up to -20 celsius. COP is great down to -5 celsius and gradually goes down with the temperature. At -25 celsius the COP is close to one.

Air-to-air heat pump is never the sole heating system here in Finland, but it is typical add-on for older houses with direct electricity heating.

New houses have often ground-source heat pump and that does not require additional heating systems.

D Cage
July 18, 2021 10:15 am

More importantly the calculations assume ground source temperature is constant but in medium to high density housing it is only constant for two to three cold days before it gets the heat sucked out of it and costs rocket as housing association project victims of this dishonest oversell of heat pumps will tell you.

willem post
July 18, 2021 2:02 pm

Heat Pumps are Money Losers in my Vermont House (as they are in almost all people’s houses)
I installed three Mitsubishi, 24,000 Btu/h HPs, each with 2 heads; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.
The HPs last about 15 years. Turnkey capital cost was $24,000
They are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, 3500 sq ft, well-sealed/well-insulated house.
The house has 2” of blueboard, R-10, on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab which has saved me many thousands of space heating dollars over the 35 years.
Energy Cost Reduction: Before HPs, my space heating propane was 1,000 gal/y
After HPs, it was 750 gal/y, a reduction of 250 gal/y, or $600/y, at $2.399/gal; I am a member of a fuel-buying group.
Additional electricity cost was 1,899 kWh x 20 c/kWh = $380/y, including taxes, fees and surcharges.
Domestic hot water, DHW, heating, requires about 200 gallon/y
My energy cost savings were 600 – 380 = $220/y, on an investment of $24,000!!

My existing Viessmann propane system is used on cold days, 15F or less, because HPs would have low efficiencies, i.e., high kWh/Btu, of delivered heat, at exactly the same time my house would need the most heat, Btu/h; a double-whammy regarding hourly heating cost, $/h, due to the laws of Physics 101!! Most non-technical people have no idea why this is happening, until they see their electric bills.
The HPs would be slightly more efficient than electric resistance heaters at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature.
It would be extremely irrational to operate air source HPs at such temperatures.
Vermont forcing, with subsidies and/or mandates, the addition of expensive RE electricity, such as wind, solar, batteries, etc., would increase electric rates and worsen the economics of HP operation!!

Amortizing Heat Pumps: Amortizing the $24,000 turnkey capital cost at 3.5%/y for 15 years costs about $2,059/y.
This is in addition to the amortizing of my existing propane system. I am losing money.

There likely would be service calls and parts for the HP system, as the years go by.
This is in addition to the annual service calls and parts for my existing propane system. 

Cost of CO2 Reduction would be (2059, amortize – 220 energy saving + 200, parts and maintenance)/0.838, table 4 = $2,433/Mt, which is even greater than for very expensive electric school buses. I am losing more money.

Highly Sealed, Highly Insulated Housing: If I had a highly sealed, highly insulated house, with the same efficient propane heating system, my house, for starters, would use very little energy for space heating, i.e., not much energy cost saving and CO2 reduction is possible.

If I would install HPs, and would operate the propane system on only the coldest days, I likely would displace a greater percentage of propane and would have annual energy cost savings; much depends on electricity and propane prices. See Note.

I likely would need 3 units at 18,000 Btu/h, at a lesser turnkey capital cost. Their output, very-inefficiently produced, would be about 27,000 Btu/h at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature. 

However, any annual energy cost savings would be overwhelmed by the annual amortizing cost, and parts and service costs. i.e., I would still be losing money, if amortizing were considered.

1) About 1.0 to 1.5 percent of Vermont households is highly sealed and insulated
2) Vermont’s weatherizing program, at about $10,000/unit, does next to nothing for making energy-hog houses suitable for HPs; it is a social program for poor people.
NOTE: VT-Department of Public Service found, after a survey of 77 HPs installed in Vermont houses (turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500; almost all houses had just one HP), the annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200, but the maintenance and annual amortizing costs would turn that gain into a loss of at least $200, i.e., on average, these houses were unsuitable for HPs, and the owners were losing money.

Ground Source HPs: They are widely used in many different buildings in northern Europe, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. 

Their main advantage is the coefficient of performance, COP, does not decrease with temperature, because the ground temperature is constant; i.e., 100% of fuel oil, or propane, or natural gas can be economically displaced, whereas the economic displacement would be at most 50% with air source HPs; the percentage depends on how well a building is sealed and insulated.

Their main disadvantage is greater turnkey capital cost. See URL

BTW, all of the above (minimal annual CO2 reduction and meager annual energy savings) has been widely known for at least a decade, and yet, RE folks, in and out of government, keep on hyping air source HPs in cold climates.

willem post
July 18, 2021 2:12 pm

If heat pumps replace gas furnaces, they would place a major additional demand on electric grids.

If electric vehicles replace gasoline vehicles, they would place even more demand demand on electric grids

There will need to be major upgrades of transmissions and distribution grids

There will need to be major additional electricity generating capacity.

Basic Rule Applicable to All Grids: Normal wind and solar output could be 10,000 MW. During a wind/solar lull, it could be 1,000 MW. Such lulls may last 5 to 7 days, and may occur any time of the year. Sometimes a second multi-day lull occurs a few days after the first one.

At least 9,000 MW of other generators would be needed to counteract the shortfall. No matter what up/down performance wind/solar has, these generators have to supply enough electricity to meet demand, 24/7/365

Charging Electric Vehicles During Freezing Conditions
School Bus Normal Operation at 32F and below: On cold/freezing days, an electric bus would use on-board systems to heat the battery, as needed, during its daily route.

EV Parking: When at home, it is best to keep EVs plugged in during periods with 32F and below, whether parked indoors or outdoors.
When parking at a motel, or an airport, it is best to fully charge EVs prior to parking, to enable the on-board systems to heat the battery, as needed, during parking.

Charging at 32F and below: Li-ion batteries must not be charged when the batterytemperature is at 32F or less.
Turn on “pre-conditioning”, i.e., the battery heating/cooling system (which could be a heat pump) very slowly heats up the battery to about 40F. After the battery is “up to temperature”, normal charging can be started, either at home, or on the road. 

Pre-conditioning can be set to:
1) Preheat the car cabin and/or seats
2) Defrost windshield wipers, windows, door handles and charge port, etc.; Tesla has a charge port heater. See URL

Power Failure, while parked at 32F and below: Partially charged batteries, connected to dead chargers, could use much of their remaining charge to prevent freezing of batteries. 
See URLs.

NOTE: Li-ions (pos.) are absorbed by the anode (neg.) at lesser rates at a batterytemperature of 32F and below. Any excess Li-ions plate out on the anode, which further reduces the absorption rate. This condition increases charging percentage, increases kWh/mile, and reduces range. This condition is permanent, i.e., cannot be reversed.

– Batteries have miscellaneous losses to provide electricity to on-board systems, similar to Tesla and other EVs  
– On cold/freezing days, an electric bus should be ready for service as soon as the driver enters the bus
– On cold/freezing days, the driver would need at least 70% charge, because travel would require more energy per mile

If the battery temperature is less than 40F or more than 115F, it will use more kWh/mile
The higher efficiency range, charging and discharging, is 60F to 80F. 
Batteries have greater internal resistance at lower temperatures. 
Pro-bus folks often point to California regarding electric buses, but in New England, using electric buses to transport children would be a whole new ballgame, especially on colder days. See URLs
NOTE: Where would the electricity come from to charge and protect from cold, expensive batteries during extended electricity outages, due to multi-day, hot and cold weather events, with minimal wind and sun, as occur in California, Texas and New England?
Emergency standby diesel-generators? Emergency standby batteries?

willem post
July 18, 2021 2:18 pm

CO2 Reduction of an EV, based on real-world values
According to the Haas study, EVs are driven an average of 7,000 miles/y, compared to 12,000 miles/y for the US and VT LDV mix.
The difference holds for: 1) all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, 2) single- and multiple-vehicle households, and 3) inside and outside California. See URL
This means, as a fleet, EVs would reduce less CO2 than envisioned by RE folks’ dream scenarios. See URLs.
EV sales have been trending towards longer ranges. See table 3
EVs, with longer ranges, are driven more miles per year, on average.
Thus, we can expect the 7,000 miles/y to increase over time.
This article will use 9,000 miles/y
Table 2 is based on:
Before EVs
– Gasoline travel of 12,000 miles/y
With EVs
– EV travel of 9,000 miles/y, with the remaining 3,000 miles/y by gasoline vehicle
– EV electricity consumption of 0.350 kWh/y, which is more realistic for the EV mix of US and VT LDVs
– ISO-NE CO2 of 317 g/kWh
The resulting CO2 reduction would be 2.180 Mt/y. See table 2
EAN, with help of VT-DPS, claimed, without providing any calculations, a CO2 reduction more than two times as great, based on realistic values, i.e., 4.492 versus 2.180 Mt/y per EV; the reduction would be even less if A-to-Z CO2 and lifetime conditions had not been ignored
This likely was done to deceive people, including legislators, and to hype the adoption of overly expensive, not-very-useful EVs.
NOTE: EAN, VT-Department of Transportation, “Concerned Scientists” (anyone can join), etc., would GROSSLY OVERSTATE CO2 emission reduction of EVs by assuming:
– Excessive EV travel of 12,000, or even 15,000 miles per year
– Ignoring A-to-Z CO2
– Excessive battery lifetimes of 15, or even 20 years
– Ignoring EV battery degradation after about 8 – 10 years of travel

NOTE: I also made calculations:

– For 2000 miles/y for a gasoline vehicle and 10,000 miles/y for an EV; CO2 reduction increased to 2.422 Mt/y
– For 0 miles for gasoline and 12,000 miles/y for EV; the resulting CO2 reduction increased to 2.906 Mt/y, a far cry from 4.500 Mt/y, bandied about by EV proponents.

willem post
July 18, 2021 2:20 pm


Vermont Energy Action Network Overstates CO2 Emissions per Heat Pump
EAN, prepared a report listing the measures required to “meet Paris by 2025”. That goal is mandated by the Global Warming “Solutions” Act, GWSA, and in accordance with the VT Comprehensive Energy Plan.
EAN, with help of VT-DPS, claimed, without providing any calculations, 90,000 HPs would reduce CO2 by 0.370 million Mt/y, or 4.111 Mt/y per HP
See page 4 of URL
EAN ignored the A-to-Z CO2 of:
1) Upstream CO2 emitted for extraction, transport and processing fuels
2) CO2 emitted, due to making the HP system, etc.
3) Lifetime conditions.
CO2 Reduction of a Heat Pump, based on Real-World Conditions in my House
I used the following parameters to calculate my CO2 reduction:
– Before HPs, my space heating propane was 1,000 gal/y
– After HPs, my space heating propane was 750 gal/y
– The 2018 VT-DPS “paper-based” value of 190,000/5.6 billion kWh = 33.9 g CO2/kWh
– HP electricity consumption of 1,899 kWh, from my electric bills
– Average HP coefficient of performance, COP, of 2.6
– I operated my HPs at temperatures of 15F and greater
– I operated my traditional propane system at temperatures of 15F and less. See Note
The resulting CO2 reduction was 1.376 Mt/y
The CO2 reduction would be 0.838 Mt/y, if the ISO-NE CO2 of 317 g/kWh had been used. See table 4
EAN, with help of VT-DPS, claimed, without providing any calculations, a CO2 reduction 4.111/1.376. = 3.0 times greater.
The ratio would be if 4.111/0.838 = 4.9 times, if the ISO-NE CO2 of 317 g/kWh had been used.
My real-world experience showed about 25% of my normal space heating was displaced by the HPs.
The EAN estimate likely was done to deceive people, including legislators, and to hype the adoption of overly expensive, not-very-useful HPs
NOTE: I could have operated my HPs at less than 15F, but the COP would have been less, and the electricity consumption would have been much greater, likely eliminating my very meager annual energy savings

July 18, 2021 3:00 pm

Removing gas (primarily water heaters & central heating) from new homes will require significant upgrades to the distribution system.

The electric utilities, over the last 30 years, have required an estimate of electric use for all residential development (subdivisions). The (urban) utilities then design the transformers & secondary to accommodate the minimum (they have a piece of paper from the developer of expected use, so it takes them off the hook for future problems).

Almost all residential development (my region of the NW) in the last 30 years includes gas for heating). A removal of the gas appliances from the homes would require upgrades of the underground systems and addition of transformers (either that, or the utilities would need to accept that there is zero safety factor).

The cost of infrastructure upgrades would be thousands per household.

Geoffrey Williams
July 18, 2021 3:53 pm

Emma Gatten and ‘green frippery’ sums it all up. But it’s worse than that because of all the falsehoods that they pervade. Which is another way of saying ‘lies and untruths’
The cost of all this destruction and restructuring of Britain’s energy / home heating system will be phenomenal and will be a massive burden to ordinary folk. And all unnecessary ! !

Chris Nisbet
July 18, 2021 5:27 pm

If we simply wait for climate change to warm the place by a few more degrees, which _might_ be sped up by a small amount if we use more gas boilers, we won’t need all those heat pumps.
We could save billions.
Where do I send my bill?

Michael S. Kelly
July 18, 2021 5:57 pm

Our home in Virginia uses propane for the stovetop, for central heating, and for the water heater (which is what we call a “boiler.” Most people in the U.S. call it a “hot water heater” for some inexplicable reason…).

I wouldn’t trade a gas stovetop for anything. However, I’m indifferent to either gas or electric when it comes to water and central heating. The only discriminants would be cost and reliability.

Our electricity is provided by Novec, a Northern Virginia electricity cooperative – and the best-run company I’ve ever seen in my life. My wife and I attend their (extremely well-run) annual meetings, just for fun. They really are fun, and informative. Meetings are held at a capacious local high school, and are always packed – hundreds of customers show up.

Novec supplies the cheapest electricity I’ve seen in 40 years, and due to the superior insulation qualities of our house, even torrid Northern Virginia summers don’t break the bank when it comes to air conditioning. Our bill last month (with a big heat wave) was $230. That’s for a 3,500 square foot house. Their service reliability is unparalleled in the mid-Atlantic. Rarely have we had storm-related outages, even when the rest of the state was without power. The random transformer failure, or power-pole-meets-car outage, are usually resolved within a few hours.

We will have to replace our water heater sometime soon. I’m definitely on the side of an electric heater. The energy cost is trivial compared with what we have been paying for propane. Though we have recently cut the latter in about half (by buying our tank, and then going to the lowest propane bidder), it still can’t compete with Novec electricity.

However, if Novec ever went “green,” I’d cut off my connection to the grid and install a diesel generator on the property. Just sayin’…

July 18, 2021 9:04 pm

 though manufacturers say they will be able to halve costs within 18 months.”

That smacks of code for:

  • inferior quality alloys and materials,
  • built by slave labor in foreign markets,
  • assembled by slave labor in foreign markets,
  • installed by poorly trained immigrant labor at union rates while labor rate estimates were based on paying below poverty wages.

Royal Society of Architects’ spokesperson doesn’t care. His house is already constructed, funded and warm in winter and cool in summer.

July 18, 2021 11:34 pm

For maximum efficiency, heat pumps are designed to heat water to lower temperatures than a gas boiler, by around 10 degrees. 

Australian States legislate a health requirement for a minimum setting of 60C/140F for water heaters. That is the temperature required to kill nasty bugs that set homes in plumbing.

Are there similar requirements in the UK?

Vincent Causey
July 18, 2021 11:53 pm

The real question though, is what will be the political consequence of this insanity?

Reply to  Vincent Causey
July 19, 2021 5:10 am

Currently there is no meaningful political opposition to green lunacy in the UK – all parties represented in parliament vie with each other to be seen to be the greenest of them all. I don’t see this changing until voters wake up to the cost realities of policies which are based on timelines that still seem a long way off. Until and unless politicians realise that green lunacy will lose them votes, I don’t see this changing.

July 19, 2021 2:24 am

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.

Making such blanket claims about “heat pumps” is totally misleading in itself. You can be fairly sure that Scandinavia is NOT using air-air heat pumps which would be grossly inefficient with freezing outside temperatures.

Natural gas is the purest and cleanest energy source known to man yet this ignorant dystopian push to ban domestic natural gas will lead to finincial ruin and deaths for many elderly people.

Reply to  Greg
July 19, 2021 3:24 am

Living in Finland, I can assure that ” You can be fairly sure that Scandinavia is NOT using air-air heat pumps which would be grossly inefficient with freezing outside temperatures.” is incorrect.

Air-to-air heat pumps are very common as an additional heating system. Never as sole one, since it needs to operate also when it is -30 celsius outside. But it works great from -20 celsius and up reducing the electricity bills.

Also air-to-water heat pumps are common in new houses. They are used as ”poor mans” heat pumps if you don’t want to invest on ground-to-water heat pump.

Reply to  Pasi
July 19, 2021 9:15 am

Can you tell us what is the efficiency at -20 Celsius outside?
I suspect your heat pump may have gone into resistive heating mode at low temperature?

Reply to  kzb
July 20, 2021 1:54 pm

No, air-to-air heat pumps do not have such mode. COP just goes down. Premium air-to-air heat pumps have COP 2.5 at -20 celsius and COP 1.5-2 at -30 celsius.

So at -20 celsius they still provide 2.5 kW of heat with 1 kW electricity consumption.

July 19, 2021 2:35 am

For the writer: ”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.”

Incorrect. The boiler has hot water all the time. Here in Finland no-one needs to wait for hot water in a shower for more than couple of seconds after using the tap.

Also, we do not burn ”a lot of wood” – Wood burning as a heating system is rare. Heat pumps, direct electricity heating or district heating are the main heating sources to keep us warm with nice 20-23 celsius inside even if outside temp is -25 to -40 celsius.

July 19, 2021 4:54 am

Soon homeowners will be burning dried animal dung to heat their homes due to government policies. The law of unintended consequences.

July 19, 2021 9:57 am

Heat to a lower temperature. So get used to living in cold houses.

D collins
July 19, 2021 6:00 pm

Why do we need heat pumps when the planet is warming .. what about air conditioners?

Derek Colman
July 20, 2021 5:03 pm

It’s much worse than even you think. The bitter truth is that heat pumps do not work at all in colder climates like ours. They are only effective in warmer climates, like for instance California. They have a back up system comprising a large electrically heated water tank to compensate for lack of heat from the heat pump. In our climate they run almost all of the time on that during winter. The best way to come to understand this is to get it from the horse’s mouth, so I refer you to a plumber who has experience of installing heat pumps.

July 22, 2021 3:11 pm

There are natural gas based heat pumps. With simpler design (adsorption and absorption ones) than electric heat pumps.

Verified by MonsterInsights