Where is the balance in this heat pump debate?

Scales - where is the balance

There was a bit of back-and-forth on LinkedIn not so long ago surrounding an article headlined ‘Loud’ heat pumps could spark noise nuisance complaints. Sparking a heat pump debate.

That was how The Telegraph chose to interpret a study by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero and it drew a swift response from the person who commissioned the review, Senior Policy Adviser Matthew Aylott.

He commented on Linkedin:: “… I find it frustrating that The Telegraph would lead with this headline when the purpose of the review is to ensure planning rules keep pace with the development of the technology. Generally heat pumps are very quiet and we know permitted development rights can be a barrier to uptake, so we want to review the evidence on noise from heat pumps to determine whether changes to planning rules are needed.’’

If Mr Aylott was frustrated by this, we wonder what he makes of The Telegraph’s wider coverage. We’ve been following it for a while now and decided to dig a little deeper.

A Google search for “heat pumps telegraph’’ resulted in the following digest of stories from early March to early June. To clarify, this is the total output found over the three-month period, rather than selected articles to make a point.

12th March

Six reasons not to buy a heat pump

Installing a heat pump might not be the best option for your home, and the cost could be prohibitive

12th March

‘Fitting a heat pump has been an expensive waste of time’

Until the Government stops making policies without thinking through the consequences, it is consumers who will bear the brunt

16th March

Heat pumps have become the eco fiasco of the decade

Britain is making an almighty mess of the transition to net zero

22nd March

How heat pumps have divided Britain

Heat pumps continue to split opinion despite the multiple Net Zero incentives.

In April

4th April

Heat pumps too expensive to meet net zero target

Price reductions of 25 to 50 per cent within two years are key to the Government’s target of 600,000 installations a year by 2028

13th April

Britain’s heat pump rollout branded an ‘embarrassment’

Flagship net zero scheme flops as installations fall far short of target

In May

3rd May, 2023

The heat pump rollout is an entirely predictable fiasco

The government wants us to rip out cheap and effective heating for expensive new hardware. It’s no wonder uptake is slow

3rd May

Heat pump rollout in crisis as Government subsidy ‘will run out of cash’ three years early

Increased demand for heat pumps leaves subsidy scheme at risk of running out of cash

10th May

British Gas admits heat pumps can leave your home colder than a gas boiler

Energy giant offers money-back guarantee to boost take-up of new technology

12th May

Heat pumps are starting to look like a conspiracy against the public

British Gas has just thrown a large spanner into a policy that seems increasingly unworkable, costly and embarrassing for the Government

19th May

Your mortgage will be cheaper – as long as you buy a heat pump, Government says

State-backed schemes form part of the wider effort to curb household emissions

20th May

‘Loud’ heat pumps could spark noise nuisance complaints

Another setback to switch from gas boilers as review examines fears over volume

21st May

Wealthy households four times more likely to install a heat pump

Experts warn that government grants are insufficient to enable broad usage

26th May

‘Good intentions led us to buy a £20,000 heat pump – it’s been nothing but trouble’

Katie Morley Investigates: our reader was left in limbo after a new heating system flopped

And in June

1st June

The great heat pump hype is almost dead

They are horrendously expensive to install, and as a nation we seem not to have the plumbing skills to install them properly

5th June

Heat pumps are becoming a plague on all our houses

As manufacturers turn against the Government’s target, once again it will be the British public who suffer

Summary

Heat pumps are not the answer to everything and we should welcome the breadth of opinions to be found online and elsewhere. Government policies should always be held to account and some of the issues highlighted are worthy of further debate. There is a real danger, though, that any valid points will be lost because of blanket coverage lacking balance or perspective.

The heat pump debate continues..

Further reading: The heat pump debate needs context and clarity

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