What is the £5000 boiler heat pump payment?
Government hopes for the widespread uptake of heat pumps as part of its ‘Net Zero’ energy decarbonisation plan have suffered another setback after an investigation was launched into whether they may be too noisy.
A £6m noise-mapping probe has been ordered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) into the pumps, which are positioned outside homes and tend to emit a constant hum. Reports say that the Government had revealed plans to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, but Defra has raised concerns about the noise impact for communities.
Heat pumps tend to emit a constant hum of between 40 and 60 decibels, about the same as a fridge or dishwasher, and there are fears that the cumulative impact of large numbers of heat pumps in a residential area could prove too loud. Now Defra is reportedly working on the noise-mapping project that involves gathering information on every road, railway and urban area in the country.
Rebecca Pow, minister for environmental quality and resilience, said at a House of Lords science and technology committee hearing last week that Defra had raised the issue of noisy heat pumps with the Department for Business and Trade.
“Whilst Defra is responsible for protecting the environment, an awful lot of the levers are in other departments,” she told peers.
“We’ve highlighted the issue of noise, so now they’ve commissioned a piece of work and research into the impacts of the noise.”
Heat pumps work by pumping compressed air from outside into homes, but sound experts say that a combination of the whir of the fan, hum of the motor and buzz of the air conditioner condenser unit can all cause disturbance. This becomes louder in frosty conditions, while the units can also cause noisy vibrations.
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Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, which represents the utilities industry, called for trials to find out the impact of multiple heat pumps. He told The Telegraph: “We are aware of the concerns around noise emitted from heat pumps.
“If the Government really cared about consumers they would order a large-scale trial, with every home having a heat pump fitted, to test the cumulative noise levels of mass heat pump installations.
“Instead, they seem to be putting a Whitehall target for ripping out boilers for heat pumps as their priority. The interest of the consumer comes second best.”
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero told The Telegraph it was aware of noise issues and that it expects the review to be completed by the summer.
This will consider whether better design can reduce the volume and if they need to be positioned in a way that minimises the sound impact. A department spokesman said: “Heat pumps are a proven, scalable option for decarbonising heat. These are located outside the home and typically have sound levels similar to a fridge.
“We have seen incredible innovation over the past decade, particularly in noise reduction, and are reviewing this to ensure planning rules keep pace with advances in technology.”
Grants of up to £5,000 are available for homeowners to install a heat pump, although uptake has been sluggish. They typically cost between £7,000 and £13,000 to buy and install.
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