Bristol City Council is hoping to spend £3.3 million on fitting about 200 heat pumps in larger houses in Westbury-on-Trym.
The two-year project would see wealthier homeowners given cash and support to replace their gas boilers, cutting their carbon emissions and energy bills.
The council chose Westbury-on-Trym for the project as people there tend to be richer, live in larger houses, and use more energy than average Bristolians. The project will focus on training and building up a local supply chain, eventually installing heat pumps across Bristol.
Replacing gas boilers in homes with heat pumps is considered important because natural gas is a fossil fuel, which emits greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change. The cabinet heard on Tuesday, February 7 that the council has bid for government funding.
Labour Councillor Kye Dudd, cabinet member for climate, said: “Westbury-on-Trym is outside any future heat network zones, it’s an area where a proportion are likely to be able to make a significant contribution to the cost of a heat pump, it’s larger housing so there’s space for heat pumps, and there’s higher energy use than average so the carbon savings are higher.
“There’s also an active community group that’s already engaged in the area, to sort of warm up the people. We’re hoping to take lessons on how this is rolled out in Westbury-on-Trym, so we can roll it out across the city at a future stage. An important element to this is to build trust in heat pump technology, to increase the take-up across the city.”
If the council is successful in getting government funding for the project, then homeowners would be given a £5,000 grant to go towards a heat pump, but would have to pay the rest of the cost themselves, which would probably mean a few more thousand pounds. They would also receive support with installation, and customer care after heat pumps had been fitted.
Speaking after the meeting, Green Cllr Carla Denyer said: “The Greens brought a successful budget amendment in 2020 to train council staff in fitting heat pumps and other sustainable technologies like solar panels and battery storage in housing. Last month the council applied for funding to help put this into practice and upgrade our social housing to reduce people’s energy bills and carbon emissions.
“Heat pumps are a fantastic solution to provide low carbon heating, but they do need to be installed carefully by heat pump specialists, with follow-up visits to make sure they’re properly calibrated. So Bristol needs a strong local workforce with experience and training in this rapidly growing section of the green economy — there are lots of good quality green jobs to be had, creating warmer and more comfortable homes and helping to prevent climate change.”
Mayor Marvin Rees said he was due to talk to American diplomats about the importance of a “just transition” with climate change — the idea that poorer people in society should not be left behind or negatively affected by programmes and policies which aim to reduce emissions.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service