A first re-fuse-al for homes fitting heat pumps to protect neighbourhood grids at the same time is the aim of a combined offer from Octopus Energy and UKPN, Britain’s biggest distributed network operator.
For the first time, say the partners, engineers fitting air-sourced or ground-sourced clean heat devices in Octopus customers’ homes can now fit a grid-protecting fuse in a single visit.
Today’s link between Octopus and UKPN, network operators covering England’s densely populated south east, is the first time any DNO has permitted technicians from an accredited supplier to make micro-changes affecting a regional grid.
The move comes as heat pump providers’ marketing departments search for ways to overcome customer resistance. A major fear remains high – but falling – upfront costs to replace gas boilers with pumps run on electricity.
By 2025, the government wants 600,000 homes to have stripped out conventional boilers, in favour of heat pumps. Fewer than 50,000 have done so.
A price war since January over heat pumps has seen British Gas and Octopus, the nation’s first and third electricity suppliers, undercut each other’s installation deals. Octopus announced an £3,000 all-in offer, only for its Centrica-owned rival to respond with a £2,500 promotion.
Over a twelve-month pilot, UKPN trained dozens of Octopus engineers to perform fuse upgrades alongside pump installations. The measure now also includes home fittings of new EV chargers.
The partners are calling for other DNOs to repeat their success.
John Szymik, CEO of Octopus Energy Services, commented: “By carrying out fuse upgrades at the same time as EV chargers and heat pumps, Octopus has saved homeowners time, and opened up possibilities for those itching to switch to green transport and heat.
“UK Power Networks has shown vision in initiating this project. We would like to see more suppliers and DNOs to follow in our footsteps to make sure houses across the country have the means to decarbonise quickly and easily. This is the best way to wean ourselves off gas for good.”
Ian Cameron, UKPN’s innovation director, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to switch to a heat pump. Training Octopus engineers means they can get it done there and then when the heat is needed, quickly and safely.
“Collaboration across the industry is key for the UK to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.”