Greedy boiler firms hiking costs are 'price gouging' blasts Energy Secretary & vows to investigate

18 December 2023, 13:49

Energy Secretary condemns boiler firm hiked prices

Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Boiler firms hiking up costs are "price gouging" and will be investigated, the Energy Secretary has told LBC.

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Claire Coutinho insisted that there was no reason why firms should be putting up their prices thanks to new rules to sell heat pumps - and it was "very unlikely" they will be fined.

It comes after several firms confirmed to LBC last week they would hike costs - saying that they feared being fined for not selling enough heat pumps.

Heat pumps are eco-friendly as they run on electricity rather than gas, which is more damaging to the planet.

Ministers want more people to take them up to try and go green and meet out net zero goals - but at the moment they are still much more expensive than gas boilers.

New Government policy which comes in on January 1 will force firms to sell a certain number of heat pumps in order to meet net zero goals - or face huge fines - to try and kickstart the market.

But some firms are putting up the cost of boilers by up to £125 extra to compensate against the new fines, which they say are expected as the market isn't there for them yet.

But today Ms Coutinho told LBC that those firms are ripping off consumers in the middle of the cost of living crisis - and vowed to investigate further.

She said she would haul them in for a dressing down on why they were hiking their costs when industry estimates they will sell the number required.

The Energy Secretary told LBC: "I think this is price gouging plain and simple. What we have at the moment we have a policy in place where they have to sell 4% of their boilers as heat pumps.

"Industry estimates that the market overall, are selling 4% at the moment.  We think it's extremely unlikely that anyone will be fined. They say they are going to put £125 on boilers because they are expecting to face the full fine.

"I do think it's something I'm going to look at very carefully. And I will talk to anyone who I believe is passing on unfair costs to the consumer.

"I'll be speaking to them to make my views clear and monitoring the situation very carefully. It's really important that where they are taking forward unfair practises, we call them out and make sure they are doing the right thing when it comes to customers."

Ofgem confirms average household energy bills to rise by £94 a year from January

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