Brits have been told they will be able to access grants worth £5,000 in order to replace their gas boilers with more eco-friendly heat pumps.

The Tories say their plans aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions, but critics say it is all hot air and could see families lumbered with more expensive mortgages and forced to splash out on electric cars.

So what's it all about? How do you go about getting a grant, what exactly is a heat pump and what are the benefits - and alternatives - to the idea?

Here, Mirror Environment Editor Nada Farhoud answers five key questions to help you understand more about the proposal.

Q. How do I get a grant for the heat pump scheme?

A.Boris Johnson has set out plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 70 per cent by 2030, including £5,000 grants to install heat pumps instead of gas boilers.

What do you make of the plan? Have your say in the comment section

With gas prices increasing and the increasing need to reduce fossil fuel air source heat pumps are slowly starting to replace the gas boiler use in properties in the UK (

Image:

In Pictures via Getty Images)

The funding, which will be available from April for three years, forms part of a £450million Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help install low carbon systems in millions of homes.

However, Friends of the Earth said the money allocated would support only 90,000 pumps and won’t meet the prime minister’s ambition of 600,000 a year by 2028.

At present 25 million homes in the UK are heated by gas boilers.

Q. What is a heat pump and how does it work?

A. These pumps extract heat from the outside air or the ground around your home even when it is really cold. They work a bit like your fridge – only in reverse. This heat is concentrated to a higher temperature by the pump and then sent to your system to create hot water and heating.

An air source heat pump outside a property (

Image:

Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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Q. How much do they cost to install?

A. Heat pumps are not cheap. The Energy Saving Trust estimates a typical air source heat pump will cost around £6,000 to £8,000 to install and a ground source heat pump from £10,000 to £18,000 depending on the amount of heat required.

Other challenges are homes needed to be well-insulated for them to function properly. Ground source heat pumps can only be installed in properties with big enough gardens as they need trenches to be dug out so the pipes can be laid in them. Also properties using air-source pumps need outside spaces.

Q. But is it worth it? What are the benefits?

A. At present 85% of homes in the UK have boilers that burn natural gas releasing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of co2 - a greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere. This puts heating as the largest carbon contributors to carbon emissions in the home.

For the UK to reach the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 made law by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019, almost all of our 29m homes will need to switch over to low carbon heating. At the moment just 5% of homes have low carbon heating.

It’s estimated that installing a heat pump can cut carbon emissions by up to 23.36 tonnes over 10 years (the equivalent of 30 return flights between Heathrow and Madrid).

But it’s not just your carbon footprint that installing a heat pump can reduce - it can cut costs too. A typical three bed household would save £2,755 over 10 years with a heat pump vs a traditional boiler, says EDF Energy. Typically, heat pumps also function for 15-20 years and 10 year for gas.

Q. Can I install a hydrogen boiler instead?

A. There are working prototypes but it is not yet possible to buy or install a hydrogen-ready boiler. Ministers also say it is too early to determine whether hydrogen is a practical and cost-effective alternative to natural gas.

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