Homeowners warned of potential £15k electricity ‘upgrade’ before installing heat pumps

Boris Johnson discusses introduction of heat pumps to UK homes

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Potentially millions of properties will need to have their electricity supply changed in order to install heat pumps and electric car chargers. However, Western Power Distribution (WPD), which manages the electricity network for the Midlands, South Wales and the South West, has warned that providing electrical power to homes will be one of the “biggest challenges” Britain will face during the heat pump rollout. The power company said in December there will need to be upgrades for “around a third” of all heat pump installations.

Currently, most homes in Britain run off a “single phase” supply with one fuse.

But some larger households, with bigger electricity requirements, are facing an eye-watering £15,000 to upgrade to a “three-phase” supply.

Paul Jewell, system development manager at WPD told The Daily Telegraph, the price estimate came from the applications it had received over the past year.

Some homes will require a simple upgrade while others will find their upgrade more tricky.

He said: “If a cable needs upgrading it will involve digging to the front door, and if a cable connects two homes we may even want to dig in both gardens.

“We deal with this on a case by case basis.”

“Three-phase” supply involves three 100amp fuses giving 70kVA of power to a property.

UK Power Networks said the majority of people pay £3,500 to £6,000 for the work which is usually done during a ground or air source heat pump installation or when a house is converted into flats.

These costs come on top of installing a heat pumps – with ground source heat pumps being priced between £11,000 and £20,000, and air source pumps at £5,000 and £12,000.

For some households changing out their gas boiler to a Government-backed low carbon system such as a ground source heat pumps could cost up to £35,000.

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In most cases, properties will need a smaller upgrade which will allow a supply of 80 or 100 amps which can cost homeowners hundreds of pounds.

UK Power Networks will reportedly upgrade a main fuse from a 30 or 60amp fuse to either an 80amp or a 100amp fuse for free.

Before an upgrade, they will need to check the equipment in the house meets “safety and technical standards”.

The amount of electricity supply required will depend on the size of the property, how many people live there and what other electrical appliances are installed.

Homes on a “looped” supply can be harder to upgrade because their homes are connected to neighbouring properties.

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Permission is often needed from neighbouring homes to dig into gardens and driveways to “de-loop” the cables.

WPD has estimated that by 2030, there will be a million new car registrations each year and 600,000 heat pumps, in order for the Government to reach its net zero targets.

The company covers around a third of UK homes which means they could face as many as 2,000 installations each day.

Whether a household pays for their own upgrade, what upgrade they need and how much they are expected to pay will depend on where the property is in the country and who manages the network.

Government regulator Ofgem said network operators should offer households free upgrades and allow homeowners to spread the cost across their bills.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks charges up to £200 for upgrades to the cut-out and more for cable upgrades.

From April, these upgrades will be free for certain applicants with the cost being spread out across bills.

Northern Powergrid, which covers North East England and Yorkshire said a fuse upgrade currently costs around £120.

Upgrades to cables costs will depend on the type of job it is, with costs being “socialised” from April next year.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told The Daily Telegraph: “We will need a mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions for different property types in different parts of the country.

“Most households that choose to install a heat pump will not need to pay for an upgraded connection.”

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