RURAL households across Dorset may face average costs of around £20,000 each to fund new ‘green’ heating systems, under plans being considered by government.

The government have followed advice from its official climate change advisor, resulting in signalling the intention to phase out the installation of fossil fuels during the 2020s.

This will begin in new builds and homes off the gas grids.

Despite the good initiative proposed, many fear that these plans would force the 18000 oil heating households in Dorset, along with thousands more LPG users, to buy expensive electric heating systems called heat pumps instead.

Heat pumps cost between £8,000-£20,000 to install, a heavy figure for those jumping from gas to electric.

While heat pumps work efficiently in well-insulated homes, many rural properties are among the least energy efficient in Britain.

For residents in rural properties, this could result in not only paying for expensive heat pumps, but also paying thousands more on insulation measures, pushing the total bill for the oldest, least efficient properties to a staggering figure of over £40,000.

This would cost the U.K's rural households around £30.6 billion in total.

OFTEC, the trade association for the liquid fuel heating industry, says such a move could force many rural households into debt or mean they refuse to take action, potentially stalling the climate change action which is urgently needed.

OFTEC CEO Paul Rose explained: "Introducing a policy which isn’t fit for purpose could have severe consequences. The impact on consumers must be central to discussions on the future of heating, and cost and disruption minimised if support for climate change action is to be forthcoming."

Paul also highlighted the potential issues raised: "We firmly support plans to decarbonise home heating, but government’s current thinking is concerning. This could cause major problems for cash-strapped rural households."

He added: "Financial support to help the poorest families switch heating systems would most likely be made available but many households will be expected to fund the work themselves. The vast majority just won’t be able to do this."

With the election date looming, OFTEC is urging rural voters to look carefully at party proposals for reducing carbon based home heating.

Unless the proposals are accompanied by a commitment to make billions of pounds in support available, individual homeowners will likely pick up the bill.

Paul said: "Our industry is working on a sustainable low carbon liquid fuel solution which will offer a far more practical solution which we think homeowners would embrace, due to much lower costs and minimal disruption to their properties. Yet so far, government has given this route little consideration.

"This is why we are urging rural voters across Dorset to make sure they ask the right questions before casting their vote."

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