How Wayne Perrey is taking advantage of the new £7,500 heat pump grant

TV DIY expert Wayne Perrey on how the 50 per cent increase in government heat pump grant money made him choose the greener technology for his home

Wayne Perrey - Presenter on TV Carpenter Podcast

After many years of living in a London flat with my wife and daughter, I finally found a home in Chislehurst, southeast London, that we could really put our stamp on. As a carpenter and DIY expert I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and do most of the work myself, especially as it is a real doer-upper.

However there are some things which should be left to the trained professionals, including electrics and heating. So when you buy a home and the property survey recommends that it needs a new boiler and heating system, your heart sinks a little as you know a new gas combi boiler and updated radiators are going to set you back around £9,000.

Perrey’s home in Chislehurst, southeast London
Perrey’s home in Chislehurst, southeast London

Gas Boilers Vs Heat Pumps

While looking for quotes for the gas boiler, I kept seeing adverts for air source heat pumps saying their systems could reduce my energy costs. A gas boiler gives 1kW of heat for every 1kW of gas it uses and a heat pump gives 4kW of heat for every 1kW of electricity it uses, which means a heat pump can be 400 per cent more efficient than a gas boiler. A heat pump will cost 10 to 30 per cent less to run than a gas boiler — this is because the cost of electricity is far more than gas at the moment.

A heat pump generally costs more than a gas boiler install because it is a new technology with less stock available. However the government increased its heat pump grant from £5,000 to £7,500 this week — plus they’re VAT-free. After getting various quotes, the heat pump installation without new radiators was coming in at around £9,000 — close to the cost of a gas boiler, thanks to the increase in the grant.

Wayne Perrey and his family
Perrey with his wife, Anna, and daughter, Eva

Finding a Reliable Air Source Heat Pump Installer

As I inquired online, each company asked to look at my home’s EPC (energy performance certificate) to check if it had any insulation recommendations as this is a first indicator to see if your home is suitable for an air source heat pump. For me to take advantage of the full £7,500 grant, I had to meet the government’s insulation criteria. My home is double-glazed and the previous owner had insulated the loft with 300mm of rockwool — 25 per cent of the heat from your home is lost through the loft. Thankfully, this was enough for my 1930s semi-detached house to qualify for the grant.

So I decided to take the next step and follow up on one of the online quotes. I called out an independent renewable energy company close to me in Bromley, Evolve Renewables.

I met its installation director, Dale Bellinger, at my home and we made sure the heat pump could sit outside, giving maximum airflow possible for efficiency. We weren’t restricted by the building being listed or in a conservation area. If this is the case, it is best to check with the council or apply for planning, as positioning is more restricted. We then confirmed the internal cylinder would fit in a cupboard around 1m wide by 2m high.

I soon realised this isn’t just a one-size-fits-all plumbing gig, but there is a real science to it. Every home is unique and requires at least a one-hour survey. As Bellinger geeked out on the numbers and shared his findings, I had to hide the fact that a lot of it was going over my head.

Front room renovations, ready for installing an air source heat pump
Perrey is installing a £23,500 air source heating system while carrying out other renovations

Bellinger advised that now, while the house was empty and I was doing the building works to move us in, I should take the opportunity to make the insulation as effective as possible. Cavity wall insulation is strongly advised, as you lose 35 per cent of heat through your walls. If, like me, you own a solid brick building with no air cavity, your options are to clad the outside or go for the cheaper option of fitting 4cm-thick insulated plasterboard on the inside and having the walls re-skimmed. I decided to go for the latter.

Bellinger also suggested that if we were renovating the floors on the ground floor, we should insulate between the joists, then install underfloor heating. This is by far the best option for a heat pump as it runs at a much lower temperature than radiators, meaning maximum efficiency. To save money, I plan to lift the floors and install the insulation myself, at a cost of just under £1,000.

The more significant issue is swapping the downstairs heating from radiators to a water pipe underfloor heating system, which will cost an extra £6,000. If you are sticking with radiators there’s an extra investment too. Heat pumps run at a lower temperature than a boiler, and this means many, although not all, radiators will need to be replaced and upsized at an extra cost on top of the heat pump installation itself.

A diagram showing how air source heat pumps work

I know we could have opted to pay £9,000 to install a traditional gas heating system, but we will be spending over £2,000 on extra insulation and installing a £23,500 air source heating system (which cost me £16,000 thanks to the government grant of £7,500) instead.

Our feet will be toasty warm as we get close to our first family Christmas in our new home, and I will have the warm glow of satisfaction that I am doing the right thing for the environment and the future of my family — even if it did cost double.

Is your home suitable for a heat pump?

• The older the building, the more expense there is associated with installing a heat pump. Even with a government grant of £7,500, and my own DIY work, my heat source pump will cost double what it would

• The lower your EPC rating, the more work you will have to do to make a heat pump viable.

• What makes the system so cost-effective is that it runs at low temperatures —might make the whole idea too expensive.

• If your home is listed and planning permissions are needed to change the windows, that would be another potential deterrent.

• As heat pumps run at a lower temperature than a boiler, this means many, if not all, radiators will need to be replaced and upsized when you install your heat pump.

• You need a space to fit the internal cylinder, which isn’t small, and this needs to be connected no more than ten metres away from the external heat pump.

• Due to fan noise, the heat pump can’t be too close to a neighbour’s boundary. So if you lived in a flat, this would make it almost impossible to have one.

Wayne Perrey presents the TV Carpenter podcast. Reposted with permission. Credits for original article – The Times

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Government Grants

If you live in England or Wales, your installer can apply for a £7,500 grant through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to cut the cost of installing your air source heat pump. We will apply for the grant on your behalf! The scheme covers heat pump installations that take place before the end of March 2028

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