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JOHN HUMPHRYS: My heat pump left me out in the cold…but I’m hot and worried about the Prime Minister

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My first attempt to burn down our house was somewhat less effective than my second. I was a little boy and it was the morning after Bonfire Night.

My mom had jumped out and I was bored, so I had the bright idea of ​​collecting some of the used rockets that were on the street and throwing them into our fire.

The result was spectacular… and so was my mother’s reaction when she had to call the fire brigade to fight the fire in the chimney!

The second time, the house was a dilapidated cottage on our dairy farm in West Wales.

We’d been remodeling for a year, and I stupidly draped a few damp sheets over an electric air box in a bedroom, blocking the vents, and left to milk the cows.

When I returned, the bedroom was ablaze. When the fire brigade arrived, only the walls were left standing.

That was almost 40 years ago. I’ve since renovated another ruin in West Wales and I can guarantee it will withstand the worst of my pyrotechnic tendencies.

Boris Johnson would indeed be proud of me because he has the heating system he wants us all to install.

Boris Johnson told us this week that if we want to meet the government’s targets for reducing CO2 emissions, we need to get rid of our gas boilers and install heat pumps. Well, I was ahead of the game

He told us this week that if we want to meet the government’s targets for reducing CO2 emissions, we need to get rid of our gas boilers and install heat pumps. Well, I was ahead.

The conditions were ideal. We were rebuilding the house from scratch, so we ran the pipes under the floor before the floors went down.

The walls were made of stone, but strict building regulations meant that our insulation was state-of-the-art.

And even better, the field behind the house was perfect for laying the pipes needed for a ground source system, which is much more efficient than the air source alternative that must be used in the vast majority of homes in cities.

It cost a small fortune, but it was worth it. I helped save the planet and saved myself the cost of buying dirty, polluting oil.

The perfect win-win, I told myself. A nice warm house regardless of the weather and a miniscule energy bill.

But I was wrong. For starters, I hadn’t considered the electricity needed to run the pump.

Not a big problem as I also had a series of solar panels installed. But that is not possible in a small semi or a flat.

The real killer was that it wasn’t doing its job. I didn’t get a warm house in the middle of winter.

When my dear neighbor turns it on a few days before I arrive, it dispels the cold in the rooms below. But that’s about it.

To get really warm, I have to light the wood stove. Again, not exactly an option in your typical suburban semi.

The sad reality is that I spent a small fortune and did not get a cozy home.

And I wonder: how many of us would – or could even – pay at least £10,000 for a heating system to replace our polluting but efficient gas boiler for something that takes the cold away?

The perfect win-win, I told myself.  A nice warm house regardless of the weather and a miniscule energy bill.  But I was wrong. [File picture]

The perfect win-win, I told myself. A nice warm house regardless of the weather and a miniscule energy bill. But I was wrong. [File picture]

Yes, it costs. The promise of a £5,000 grant from April is only for the lucky few. The government’s own target is 600,000 heat pumps per year.

The handouts will only be 30,000. And only for three years. Maybe the tooth fairy can help.

I’m kidding, but this is no laughing matter. The world is facing a real crisis.

It is true that this country is responsible for less than 1 percent of the carbon that destroys our precious atmosphere. China accounts for 28 percent and is massively increasing its use of coal to generate energy.

But it’s important here at home because it’s a moral issue. We must do everything in our power to repair the terrible evil we have already done and, above all, to prevent it from getting worse.

That’s why Boris Johnson’s statement this week should fill us with both despair and anger — particularly over the lack of detail. He promises that this country will be ‘net zero’ by 2050, but does not tell us how.

That’s because he’s afraid of the electorate. He knows that if we are to achieve the targets, huge technical progress must be made in crucial areas such as carbon capture and storage and producing hydrogen without fossil fuels.

It will cost huge sums, and he would have us believe that the private sector can and should foot the bill.

Otherwise, taxpayers will have to, which won’t be popular – and Boris really wants to be popular.

He is hardly unique. But he clearly believes that if he can please us with his feel-good approach, with a funny joke, we’ll sit at his feet like an admiring puppy looking up to his owner.

I'm not saying smelly kids are the answer to our climate crisis, but here's a suggestion that's a little less ironic: What if the government handed out thermal vests for free?

I’m not saying smelly kids are the answer to our climate crisis, but here’s a suggestion that’s a little less ironic: What if the government handed out thermal vests for free?

He used a phrase this week that showed his contempt for our credulity. We can build back greener, he said, “without a single hair shirt in sight.”

That’s either stupid or cynical. Maybe both. The only event that enabled humanity to overcome the desperate poverty of the masses was the discovery of fossil fuels and what they could do: coal first, then oil.

The energy in it changed everything. It made the industrial revolution possible. It gave us electricity.

Now we are on a journey to a future without fossil fuels, and it is fraught with danger.

The Prime Minister underestimates the intelligence of millions of concerned people in this country who know that if we continue to live as we have, we will betray our children and their children.

Renewable energy is vital, but it is not enough. We need to change the way we live.

But the dumping of petrol and diesel cars means a huge increase in electricity consumption. Aircraft will need kerosene in the near future. And we still need to heat our homes and offices.

So we have to travel less. Lower the thermostat. Maybe even learn something from my parents’ generation; when it got cold, our mothers buttoned up our children in weird garments called freedom bodices.

Quilted vests that we couldn’t take off even if we wanted to. We must have haggled a bit after the first two weeks, but no one seemed to care.

I’m not saying smelly kids are the answer to our climate crisis, but here’s a suggestion that’s a little less ironic: What if the government handed out thermal vests for free?

It may cost a few hundred million, but they have to be made in Britain so that there is some economic benefit from the jobs created. And just think how much energy we would save if we found out we didn’t have to live in saunas.

Bonkers maybe. But are thermal vests really as crazy as Boris’ hair-shirt fantasy?

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