Home owners are being offered grants of up to £5,000 from the Government to ditch their gas boilers in favour of more energy efficient heat pumps.

But what is heat pump and why should Wirral residents bother getting one?

Angela Terry is an environmental scientist and the founder of One Home, the UK's first consumer climate action hub – providing independent, practical advice on the changes people can make to tackle global warming and adapt to climate change.

She said: "Gas boilers are soon to go the way of video recorders, camera film and floppy disks. In the near future, we simply won’t have them.

"Currently, a fifth of the UK’s harmful emissions comes from the fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water and cooking. It’s one of the most polluting aspects of our way of life.

"To hit our climate targets we’ve got to stop burning gas. Our kids and grandchildren are counting on us to find low carbon alternatives – to make sure we leave them a habitable world to live in.

"This is where heat pumps come in. Making use of the natural heat found in the environment around your home, they are the best green alternative to gas boilers.

"What’s more, the Government’s just launched its Boiler Upgrade scheme, offering £5,000 grants for homeowners to swap their gas boilers for electric heat pumps. But what are they?

Ten things you need to know about heat pumps

  1. A properly installed heat pump should keep your home as toasty as a gas boiler.
  2. There are two kinds. Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, making use of the natural heat to be found in the air or underground respectively.
  3. Air sourced heat pumps look like an air conditioning unit attached to the outside of your home. They work like reverse fridges – extracting outside air using a fan and then transferring heat to a fluid, which is squashed /compressed to increase its temperature. The arising heat is used for both hot water and heating, via radiators or underfloor heating.
  4. Ground source heat pumps work in a similar way but instead use underground pipes to collect heat.
  5. Ground source heat pumps are more efficient but also more expensive to install, because of the additional works required to bury the network of pipework under your garden.
  6. Gas boilers provide blasts of heat but heat pumps are designed to keep your home at a steady temperature. For them to be as efficient as possible, you need to make sure your walls and roof are properly insulated. You also need to check your windows and doors don’t let out too much heat. Cavity wall or solid wall insulation will require an accredited installer, but the rest can be done as relatively simple DIY jobs.
  7. Some properties are going to be better suited to air source heat pumps and others to ground source. It depends on the size of your home, the size of your garden, if it’s a new build or older, if the installer thinks a radiator upgrade is necessary and where your home’s located.
  8. Maybe you think that the air or the ground in Wirral isn’t hot enough to generate the necessary heat? The reality is that both ground and air source heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as -15 °C.
  9. Heat pumps only have one downside: they cost more to install. Prices start at £6,000 for an air source pump and at least £10,000 for a ground source pump. However, the price is expected to plummet in the coming years as more are installed due to economies of scale. In the meantime, the government’s £5,000 grants should help to bridge the cost difference.
  10. When it comes to running costs heat pumps should be cheaper than gas. The only energy used is electricity to run the compressor and the pump, so a heat pump should cut your bills – as well as your carbon footprint.
Angela Terry is an environmental scientist and the founder of One Home

Angela Terry is an environmental scientist and the founder of One Home

Speaking about the Government's scheme, Angela said: “If we are to meet our climate goals and leave a liveable world for our kids and grandchildren, our gas boilers have got to go.

"The fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water and cooking make up more than a fifth of the UK’s harmful emissions, meaning eco-friendly alternatives, like heat pumps, are essential to meeting climate targets.

“No-one is in love with their gas boiler and now that the Government has said gas boilers won’t be available after 2035, we really are going to be living through a revolution in home heating.

"As there are an estimated 25 million domestic gas boilers in the UK, it’s going to be an enormous undertaking. But with soaring gas prices and the climate crisis gathering apace, the need for low-carbon alternatives to gas boilers has never been greater."

Angela has an important piece of advise for anyone considering getting a heat pump. She added: "I’d advise anyone considering applying for one to speak to an accredited installer now about wall insulation. The reality is that heat pumps work best in well-insulated homes.

"As the UK has the oldest and draughtiest housing stock in Western Europe, most Brits will need to ensure their walls and roof are properly insulated – and that their windows and doors are not leaking heat.”

To find out more about the Government's renewable heat initiative, click here.