What is a heat pump and how do they work?

Heat pumps extract warmth from the air, the ground, or water - a bit like a fridge operating in reverse. They are powered by electricity, so if you have a low-carbon source of electricity they provide greener heating.

What's wrong with my gas boiler?

Gas-powered heating produces carbon dioxide emissions, which cause climate change. Heating buildings accounts for 21% of the UK's carbon emissions. And right now, thanks to soaring energy prices, your gas boiler may be costing you more than you expected.

The government hopes that if your boiler is nearing the end of its life, you may want to replace it with a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Experts think most homes will eventually have heat pumps.

How much are they and will the government pay?

They are costly - between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the sort you install and the size of your home.

From next April, homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 to help pay for them, the government has announced. It also said no new gas boilers will be sold after 2035. It's not clear whether heat pumps could be cheaper to run than gas boilers. But the government also said it would consult on a plan to shift levies - charges to help pay for green measures - away from electricity bills over the next decade. It said this would ensure heat pumps are no more expensive to run than a gas boiler.

Could I get one at my home?

It's easiest to put them in new builds, but older homes can also be fitted with heat pumps. Most domestic heat pumps will extract heat from the air.

These require good insulation - around walls, roofs and windows. This is because air pumps operate with water at a lower temperature than gas boilers, so it's important not to have heat escaping.

You also need space inside for a heat pump unit and hot water cylinder. The unit will be about the size of a gas boiler - while the cylinder depends on the size of the home. A box of about one metre by one metre needs to be outside (preferably attached to the house) to draw in air. It should be at least one metre from your neighbour's property so they will not be able to hear it, although it shouldn't be much louder than your fridge.

A ground source heat pump needs much more space outside: either a borehole as much as 100m deep; or a horizontal system dug into the ground over a large area.

What are the drawbacks?

Information sourced from BBC.

Homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them to replace old gas boilers with low-carbon heat pumps.

The grants are part of the government's £3.9bn plan to reduce carbon emissions from heating homes and other buildings.

It is hoped no new gas boilers will be sold after 2035. The funding also aims to make social housing and public buildings more energy-efficient. But experts say the budget is too low and the strategy is not ambitious enough.

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said the number of heat pumps that the grants would cover "just isn't very much" and meant the UK would not meet its aim of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

Heat pumps extract warmth from the air, the ground or water - a bit like a fridge operating in reverse. They are powered by electricity, so if you have a low-carbon source of electricity, they provide greener heating.

The UK has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Heating buildings accounts for more than a fifth of the UK's overall greenhouse gas emissions, so there is pressure on the government's Heat and Buildings Strategy to deliver effective reductions.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the grants to support the adoption of heat pumps, available from next April, would help to bring down the cost of the relatively new technology by 2030.

An air-source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type installed and the size of a property.

While homeowners will be encouraged to switch to a heat pump or other low-carbon technology when their current boiler needs replacing, there is no requirement to remove boilers that are still working, the government emphasised.

One energy firm, Octopus Energy, said it expected homeowners to pay about £2,500 to the cost of installing a heat pump, roughly equivalent to the cost of a new gas boiler. The government subsidy would cover the rest.

But many houses will require an upgrade to their energy efficiency, including insulation, before installing one.

Information sourced from BBC.