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200 installers have so far been trained by the company to provide lower carbon solutions such as air source heat pumps in homes as part of service initially being trailed in Southwest England

British Gas intends to train 3,500 apprentices this year as it looks to begin installing air source heat pumps in Southwest England from February onwards.

The company has decided to train up the apprentices in order to fit heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points in homes as part of a regional trial before a planned nationwide rollout of the service for the company’s customers at some point in 2022.

A spokesperson for the company said that it currently had 200 engineers trained to offer the heat pumps with the first being fitted in a home in Devon next month.

Air source heat pumps are designed to absorb heat from outside air and then compress this energy to a high temperature for inside a building.  Installations provided by British Gas are expected to include a bespoke design service that will look up what upgrades in pipework or radiators are needed in a property to deliver more efficient heat.  Government incentive programmes will also be relied upon to support the costs on installation, according to the company.

British Gas noted that the average installation cost of a heat pump was between £10,000 and £20,000.  The company added that it would be offering up to seven years interest free credit in an effort to make its service more affordable for consumers. This would be offered in line with payments provided through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to cover the installation costs. British Gas said it also intended to be placed on the Boiler upgrade Scheme once it has replaced the RHI fund in April of this year.

The company also plans to incorporate the Hive heating controls system as part of its heat pump offering later in the year to support remote management of their heating.

2022 installation target

In total, British Gas’ parent company Centrica hopes to install at least 1,000 air source heat pumps this year. This figure will include social housing installations through the PH Jones brand. By 2025, the company said it hopes to be installing 20,000 heat pumps annually.

British Gas said that heat pump systems were the best immediate option to provide off-grid, and well insulated homes with low carbon heat in order to meet UK decarbonisation targets over the next three decades.

Jana Siber, British Gas managing director, said the company’s first mass market heat pump service would support homes in moving to lower carbon energy.

Ms Siber said, “There will not be a single solution for every home but it’s important we act now to start customers on this journey. Heat pumps are an essential part of decarbonising heat and the momentum around this technology is building.

“To ensure we can meet the demand that’s coming, we’ve committed to training 3,500 apprentices over the next decade, many of whom will develop specialist green skills.”

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