Scrap those old boilers, politicians

This one is a no-brainer for blog action day. The UK’s Committee for Climate Change has called for it, Boris Johnson of all people includes it in his air quality strategy, and it will help people save money as energy bills rise.

The Government should set-up a boiler scrappage scheme (and you should sign the petition). Let people trade in old, inefficient boilers for new ones, or at least to get a massive discount. They did it for cars to help an ailing industry, why not do it with boilers to promote jobs across the country, cut carbon and help vulnerable households?

This fun little gimmick is of course one small piece of the unprecedented housing puzzle. How exactly do we cut emissions from heating, cooling and electricity by 90-100% across all the nation’s buildings in the next twenty to thirty years? The technical challenges are big enough, and with limp government exemplified by Labour up until a year or so ago – and matched by weak Conservative plans – getting the financing in place is a tricky subject.

But the hardest part will be selling it to the public. Loft insulation and new boilers are fine – more efficiency without visible changes. What about cladding that nice brick / pebbledash / stone house with external insulation? What about reducing some room sizes for internal wall cladding?

We need political parties that can implement this boiler scrappage scheme today, and begin to seriously address the wider challenge over the next two decades. We need MPs who are committed to a Green New Deal.


  1. David said:

    Ricky Younger-Ross MP is putting an EDM before parliament supporting the Reheat Britain. If the national government won’t do it… well there’s always local government.

    15th October 2009
  2. Tom Chance said:

    That’s interesting, how would a council finance it?

    15th October 2009
  3. MJ Ray said:

    I get a bit frustrated with this now. I replaced an aging Thorn boiler with a modern condensing boiler and I think even allowing for then-predicted price rises, it was still going to take about 7 years to save the cost of the boiler. The increasing price of gas means the bills have risen, not fallen.

    The repayment time on solar water heating was even longer, but I wonder whether supplementing the aging boiler with solar would have worked out better.

    I suspect our big fuel use (and so emissions source) is heating, not hot water, and current solar systems offered to me didn’t seem to help with that because there’s no sun when heating is most often needed and they don’t store enough heat for long enough.

    Why do the economics of this not stack up yet? Is there going to be a more dramatic change in the near future? Any cool central heating changes on the horizon?

    16th October 2009
    • Tom Chance said:

      Mark, the economics of really properly refurbishing homes will never stack up for the average home owner, let alone tenants and landlords.

      If you look at the government’s draft Heat and Energy Saving Strategy you’ll see that a big focus is finding clever ways of financing what are called “deep refurbs” including all kinds of new insulation and heating kit, to make sure that the heating load is very low and the supply is very efficient. At the moment this treatment typically takes 15-20 years to pay back, hence you need more clever finance vehicles like tying the cost to the house and taking it out with small additions to energy bills (called Pay As You Save).

      17th October 2009
  4. David said:

    How would a council finance it? Good question Tom

    Well it isn’t easy, but councils already receive ringfenced and un-ringfenced funding for house renovation grants and to promote business (LABGI). Combining the LABGI with some of the renovation funding and with some external funding, and you could make a local scrappage scheme. My council works with the owners of empty properties who don’t have the funds to repair them. The council pays to renovate them, then rents them out using part of the rent to repay the repair costs – everyone’s a winner, the homeless are housed, the houseowner gets an income and repaired house which is now a valuable asset. We could amend the system so that any boiler less than ‘A’ rated is replaced as part of the deal.

    Whilst it’s going to be hard to fund a local scheme the benefits of even a limited scheme are so huge, we really need to try.

    16th October 2009
  5. David said:

    Just to keep you informed the councils is talking to the RDA about using cash in job creation pot to fund a local boiler scrappage scheme.

    19th November 2009
    • Tom Chance said:

      Great! I’d be very interested to hear how it turns out.

      20th November 2009
  6. @ David, is there any where I can find out about which councils will be involved in this? I would love to be able to get help with a new boiler as my boiler is 10 years old, expensive to run and not very economic. If anyone can help me that would be great.

    5th November 2010
  7. David said:

    The national scheme has ended. My council – Teignbridge (South Devon) is still running a local Boiler Scrappage Scheme. I guess you need to contact you local council and ask, and if they aren’t, ask them why not!

    5th November 2010
  8. You have a great suggestion Tom,I agree with your thoughts and hopefully they will review it and consider your suggestion for a more better option.

    15th February 2011

Comments are closed.