They also fear that dodgy outfits will mis-sell the £10,000 machines to older and vulnerable people whose homes are unsuitable. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028. Meanwhile, gas boilers cannot be installed in new homes from 2025.
And under a proposed “market mechanism” scheme, boiler manufacturers will be fined about £5,000 per unsold pump from 2024.
Heating homes accounts for 23 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions and almost half our natural gas use.
But not-for-profit trade group Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) says pushing through the scheme in a prices crisis is “madness”.
It says few can afford the high upfront cost of heat pumps compared with £1,500 for a new gas boiler – on top of around £20,000 needed to insulate older homes properly.
EUA chief executive, Mike Foster, said: “I can’t recall a more ridiculous policy than the so-called market mechanism.
“This smacks of Soviet-style planning, with bureaucrats telling industry what they must sell, regardless of what the consumer might want or can afford – and with huge financial penalties if it disobeysWhitehall.”
The EUA said it had warned for months that installing heat pumps will lead to higher energy bills.
It emerged last week that Government climate change advisers acknowledge bills will rise by an average of 10 percent as a result.
Instead, Mr Foster said, new gas boilers should be future-proofed to run on hydrogen.
He said while heat pumps are great for new, highly insulated homes, cowboy builders could pressure householders to fit inferior, imported machines in unsuitable homes. Mr Foster added: “The danger is, to meet the targets you basically end up with an inferior product. The other risk is you just put a heat pump in a property that is not suitable.
“But actually, that does not matter to the Government – you just have to hit the target.”
Dennis Reed, of the Silver Voices charity, said: “A market-based approach will always prioritise profit and provide opportunities for scammers and dodgy builders.
“Many older people don’t have enough money to feed their meters at the moment, let alone stump up thousands for a heat pump installation.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We are working with industry to bring down the upfront cost of heat pumps by up to half by 2025.
“And later this year, we will publish proposals on how to move costs away from electricity bills to ensure heat pumps are comparatively cheap to run over time.”