Poll suggests off-grid boiler ban will leave rural homes in fuel poverty

Calls grow for government support for renewable liquid fuels as a survey finds more than two-thirds of people living in off-grid rural homes fear they would not be able to afford a heat pump if required to install one.

Off-grid rural home owners fear heat pump installation costs

A new poll released yesterday finds the installation costs would leave many off-grid homes without access to sufficient heating with the Government’s current plans to ban fossil-fuel boilers from 2026 for homes not connected to the gas-grid deeply unpopular.

As the price of oil and liquid gas has risen in recent months, rural off-grid homes, originally left out of the Government’s energy bill support scheme, have faced soaring energy costs.

Fuel poverty rates among these households are 43 per cent higher than on-grid homes, affecting half a million households, and nearly half of residents are over-65.

Calls to scrap the boiler ban

The poll, commissioned by Liquid Gas UK, found that almost 60% of off-grid homeowners believe the 2026 boiler ban for off-grid properties, which is nine years earlier than for those on the natural gas grid, is unfair and should be delayed or scrapped all together.

Commenting on the findings, George Webb, CEO of Liquid Gas UK, said: “The polling shows the 2026 off-grid boiler ban is hugely unpopular across the UK.”

Mr Webb suggests that allowing rural consumers to install renewable ready boilers beyond 2026 could be a popular solution to achieve rural net-zero and called for the government to consider the benefits of renewable liquid fuels as an alternative to electric technologies to offer greater choice on the path to decarbonisation.

A fair and affordable transition

In response to the consultation, charity Age UK warned that there was a “substantial risk” that some households would be unable to afford to install heat pumps or insulation unless the Government significantly increased support.

Polling for Age UK found that more than half of off-grid households were in favour of phasing out fossil fuel boilers over time and replacing them with new electric systems.

“It is essential the Government provide comprehensive support to ensure these households can replace existing fossil fuel systems and maintain access to sufficient heating,” Age UK said.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson commented: “We will set out our plans to decarbonise off-grid properties in due course when we issue the response to our consultation. We are committed to ensuring the transition to clean heat will be fair and affordable for off-grid properties.

“The government is providing a £200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) to help those households in Great Britain who use alternative fuels such as biomass or heating oil to meet energy costs this winter.

“We are taking a range of actions to make installing a heat pump an attractive and affordable choice for heating a home – including providing support for those wishing to make green choices through schemes like the £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme.”