Heat pumps tempt Twickenham residents – if the house is ready for one
(The Guardianx, 10 Nov 2023) In one well-to-do London street, eagerness to make the shift from boilers is dampened by worries about disruption and hidden costs.
As a snapshot of bourgeois Britain, Park House Gardens would be hard to beat. A quiet cul-de-sac of 1930s art deco semis in the south-west London borough of Twickenham leads down to the River Thames. The street’s residents include architects and artists, local authority safeguarding administrators and NHS chief operating officers.
On paper, it should be the simplest of tasks for Colin Thomas, head of service delivery at Octopus energy, to sell the idea of switching from gas boilers to air source heat pumps here. The people who live in Park House Gardens know all about climate change and want to do their bit in the battle to achieve carbon net zero. And with homes changing hands for about £1.5m, they generally do not have to count every penny.
Much faster progress will be needed if Britain is to reach the government’s target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. Last year, Thomas says the total was 72,000. These homes in well-heeled Twickenham represent the low-hanging fruit, so if their owners take some persuading it is hard to see how the UK can rapidly raise its heat pump penetration rate from the current 2% to match the 80% uptake in parts of Scandinavia. Yet with interest rates at 5.25% and the economy shaky, it is by no means plain sailing.