Lack of government publicity contributed to failings of Boiler Upgrade Scheme – New data suggests

New data discovered by renewable energy authority The Eco Experts reveals a major lack of publicity contributed to the government’s failed Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Google Trends search data highlights a clear consumer interest in ‘air source heat pumps’ over the last 12 months, but minimal searches for the ‘boiler upgrade scheme’ or ‘heat pump grant’.

This lack of public awareness around the scheme has resulted in thousands of UK households missing out on a £5,000 government grant, the potential for reduced energy bill costs, and an upgraded heating system. On average, they could have saved  50% of the cost of an average air source heat pump.

According to Google Trends data collated by The Eco Experts, there was keen public interest around ‘air source heat pumps’ in 2022, with UK searches for the term hitting peak popularity of 100 from 11th-17th December 2022.

Yet interest around the ‘boiler upgrade scheme’ during the same year was significantly low, with searches for the scheme peaking at a mere 15 from the 3rd-9th April 2022. The term ‘heat pump grant’ also experienced a low search volume in 2022. Its highest search score reached just 28 from the 27th March-2nd April.

In 2022, search popularity for the ‘boiler upgrade scheme’ and ‘heat pump grant’ reached their highest scores before the government scheme had even launched, yet searches for ‘air source heat pumps’ peaked several months later. This data clearly shows that searches for the scheme never reached the search volumes that air source heat pumps did.

With the UK cost of living crisis leaving nearly 40% of people with no money at the end of the month, coupled with the threat of rising energy bills in April, UK homeowners are now in urgent need of financial support in regards to their energy usage. An air source heat pump will typically save £6,700 over its lifetime compared to a gas boiler.

The UK government launched its Boiler Upgrade Scheme in May 2022 to help households cut the cost of their energy bills, while encouraging sustainable living to help Britain achieve its net-zero ambitions.

But during the first five months of its launch, the scheme fulfilled just 33% of the heat pump installations it needed to reach its overall target. Data from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme even shows that the number of heat pump installations has decreased since the scheme began.

The Eco Experts writer and researcher Josh Jackman commented: “The government has failed the public and the planet by refusing to publicise its own Boiler Upgrade Scheme in a year when consumer interest around air source heat pumps has reached peak popularity. This new data highlights the government’s two-faced approach to its climate targets: introduce a grant to tick a box, then neglect it completely.

“After ending the plug-in grant and Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive in 2022, this deliberate abandonment of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme takes the government’s record on providing UK households with energy-saving and affordable technology to a new low”.

To equip UK homeowners with the tools to assess whether air source heat pumps could help to reduce their energy bills costs, The Eco Experts has launched an Air Source Heat Pump Cost Calculator. In line with the government scheme, this tool instantly provides homeowners with the total average cost for a heat pump installation, and how much of their carbon footprint could be reduced.

The Eco Experts writer and researcher Josh Jackman shares five tips for homeowners looking to install an air source heat pump:

  • You can get a heat pump from Octopus for as little as £2,500 with a Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant, and British Gas has promised to match any price
  • Air source heat pumps typically last 20 years, so don’t worry about replacing them after a decade – unlike gas boilers
  • You only need to get your heat pump professionally serviced every two or three years
  • The average home will need to replace one-third of its radiators with ones that are 2.5 times bigger
  • Consider also getting extra insulation and underfloor heating to take full advantage of your new heat pump