I got £5,000 in free cash to install energy-saving gadget – it's already cut my bills by £424 | The Sun

WHEN Keith Shatwell was quoted over £4,000 for heating oil in March last year he couldn't believe his ears.

The retiree, who lives in a cottage in rural Edgworth, near Bolton, with his wife Pauline, 70, paid £340 the previous March and was staggered at the rise.

"I was scared to death. Absolutely mortified when I saw the cost," the 73-year-old told The Sun.

So he took action and started researching heat pumps to see if he could save money by having one installed.

The gadgets work by taking heat from outside and transferring it into water.

It's then used to warm up radiators, underfloor heating and your water.

They can be a cheaper alternative to heating oil, which around 860,000 peopl tend to rely on in rural areas, like Keith.

He spoke to three companies about installing an air-source heat pump and ended up being quoted £9,000 by Manchester-based Evergreen Energy.

They came to his cottage in August last year and installed the pump over three days.

Keith managed to get £5,000 off the cost of the pump by applying for a grant through the Boiler Upgrade scheme.

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So, he only ended up paying £4,000 in total.

He estimates he's already saved £424 on his energy bills – and that's just from December 2022 to February this year.

With the extra cash he's saved it means he can cover rising bills elsewhere, and specifically hiscouncil tax which is increasing from next month.

Although he had to stump up the initial costs for the installation, he expects to make back the £4,000 in just a few years.

"Within five years it would've paid for itself," he said. "I'm very pleased with it, the wife is happy too."

Are heat pumps worth it?

Heat pumps can be great for slashing your energy bills, and they're also more environmentally friendly as they have a small carbon footprint.

Under government plans, gas boilers could be banned from 2035 and heat pumps can make a good alternative.

Another advantage to them is they tend to have a longer lifespan than gas boilers.

But there can be some pitfalls.

First, the initial up front cost of installing one of the gadgets can set you back thousands of pounds, even if you get help through the government's Boiler Upgrade scheme.

Air-source heat pumps, in particular, can run less efficiently in the winter too, when the machine has to work harder to produce warm water.

Plus, a well-insulated home is essential with an air-source heat pump, so if you don't already have insulation you'll have to factor that in as an additional cost.

Heat pumps are known for how noisy they can be, although this shouldn't be too much of an issue if it has been installed in the right place.

Beyond this, because heat pumps operate off electricity, you might find your electricity bill goes up slightly after installing one.

But bear in mind the savings you make on your gas bill can outweigh the rise.

Plus, how much they actually save you depends on how much your current bill is, and how you get your energy.

For example, Keith is managing to save money because the cost of heating oil has gone up so much.

But you might not make as big a saving if you're on grid and get your gas and electric through the network.

Plus, depending on which type of heat pump you get, you might have to fit it outside your home.

An air-source heat pump for example will need to transfer air from outside into water for the inside of your home.

How does the Boiler Upgrade scheme work?

Under the Boiler Upgrade scheme, you can get a grant worth up to £6,000 to replace a fossil fuel heating system.

You can get £5,000 towards the cost of installing an air source heat pump and £5,000 towards a biomass boiler.

Those installing a ground source heat pump, including water source heat pumps, can get £6,000 grants.

But there's eligibility criteria you need to hit. You must:

  • own the property you’re applying for (including if it’s a business, a second home, or a property you rent out to tenants)
  • have installed (or plan to install) your new heating system on or after 1 April 2022
  • be replacing fossil fuel heating systems (such as oil, gas or electric)

You will still be eligible if you've already had funding to make your property more energy efficient, for example if you've insulated it.

You can apply for one of the grants by first contacting a MCS certified installer to get a quote.

They should tell you if you are eligible for one of the grants.

When it comes to finding an installer, you should choose someone who is MCS-accredited.

You can find someone by going on the government's website.

Once you've agreed a quote with the installer, they will apply for the grant on your behalf.

The value of the grant is deducted off the cost of installation.

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