A leading union is calling for a program to convert home heating to green gases such as hydrogen, which could save 100,000 jobs.
The GMB said plans to ban the installation of new gas boilers will leave millions of households with high bills and potentially weeks of disruption.
This will be most pronounced in “red wall” areas, as the North East, North West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber have the highest proportion of gas-connected homes of any English region.
A simple electric heat pump costs an average of £ 8,750 before VAT to install – that’s nearly a third (31%) of the average household’s total annual income, according to the GMB.
National Officer Andy Prendergast said: “It is absolutely absurd to demolish existing boilers in 26 million households across the UK.
“This will create heating chaos and general resentment among millions of people about the UK’s pursuit of net zero, especially when households are forced to rely on unproven heat pump technology.
“Investing in hydrogen technologies will allow us to use our existing gas network instead of throwing it all away, and thousands of skilled gas engineers across the country will have jobs customizing the systems.
“Hydrogen is critical to meeting our net zero targets and ensuring a proper transition for gas workers.”
The topic will be discussed on Sunday at the TUC Congress.
An economics ministry spokesman said: “The government has absolutely no plans to” rip out “existing cauldrons – it is deeply misleading.
“In the next 15 years we will encourage households to switch to greener and more efficient heating systems when people replace their fossil fuel boilers.
“Our overall approach will be to keep energy costs down and ensure that this gradual transition from gas boilers is fair and affordable for consumers and taxpayers.
“In addition to our world-leading hydrogen strategy, our detailed approach in this area will shortly be presented in the heating and building strategy.”