Patrick Harvie is calling on UK ministers for "urgent action to reduce electricity prices" to ensure Scots installing heat pumps can enjoy cheaper energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Harvie, the Scottish Government minister for carbon neutral buildings, is encouraging households to replace gas boilers with sustainable systems such as heat pumps as part of plans to decarbonise heat in buildings.

The minister said a mass installation of heat pumps can "cut costs for all of us in the long run".

A study commissioned by WWF Scotland found that a majority of households “could enjoy lower energy bills after fitting a heat pump”.

It added that “as well as drastically cutting climate emissions, this will protect them in future from unstable fossil fuel prices”.

Read more: Gas boilers set to be penalised under energy efficiency overhaul

The research revealed that “all houses on oil and electric heating could have lower energy bills when moving to a heat pump in 2025” if energy efficiency upgrades are made, if required.

It adds that “just over half of those currently with gas boilers” would benefit from lower energy bills.

Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “Heat pumps offer the prospect of lower bills for many homeowners in Scotland, particularly those currently using oil or electric storage heaters to heat their homes.

"We know that around a third of homes would benefit today from the switch and this will rise significantly when the UK Government introduces reforms to make electricity cheaper. 

“This technology is commonplace across Europe and works well in countries with a similar climate to Scotland, such as Norway.  Currently the upfront current costs of installation can be higher than other systems, which is why it’s vital there is financial support for those who need it to make the shift, helping families during the cost-of-living crisis, while also tackling the climate emergency.”

Concerns have been raised that UK Government action is needed to untie electricity and gas prices with heat pump and other climate-friendly strategies such as ramping up the number of electric vehicles is brought forward.

The majority of electricity generation in Scotland comes from renewable sources and is seen as a simple method of cleaning up other parts of the economy.

Currently, electricity in the UK costs more than gas, due to taxes and levies including carbon taxes on electricity but not gas, making the electricity-to-gas ratio cost high.

Read more: Half of Scots support Harvie's plan to phase out fossil fuel boilers

In order for heat pumps to reduce costs, energy efficiency measures such as upgrading windows and installing insulation are usually required.

Heat pumps, when fully installed along with energy efficiency measures, reduce the demand for energy and therefore use less electricity to heat a home.

It is thought deployment of heat pumps could reduce energy demand across residential buildings by up to 40%.

A study from the UK Energy Research Centre, published this year, warned that “the potential efficiency gains of switching to heat pumps do not fully translate to monetary savings in households’ bills”.

The report stresses that “heat pumps are almost three times more energy efficient on average than gas boilers”, but warns that “historically, electricity has been more expensive than gas”.

Read more: SNP-Greens to penalise gas boilers to 'encourage' heat pumps take-up

It adds that “for the switch to heat pumps to deliver energy bills savings, the price gap between electricity and gas needs to narrow”.

Mr Harvie said: “Heat pumps are a tried and tested way of heating homes which have been around for decades and are used in countries across Europe. Thousands are already in use throughout Scotland.

"Switching to low-carbon heating is essential to meet our legal climate targets and will cut costs for all of us in the long run, and make us less dependent on volatile and increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

"Polling published this week suggests that the majority of people in Scotland want to see that change happen."

He added: “Studies have shown that heat pumps are more efficient than gas heating systems and can ultimately reduce energy demand across the residential sector.

"However, to fully realise these cost savings, the UK Government must take urgent action to reduce electricity prices. We have called repeatedly for the UK Government to make essential reforms to the energy market so that the link between the price of electricity and the cost of gas is permanently broken.

"The Climate Change Committee has also said is the most important thing that the UK Government can do to bolster heat decarbonisation.”

Read more: Patrick Harvie defends 'tried and tested' heat pumps strategy

Scottish Conservative shadow net zero, energy and transport secretary, Douglas Lumsden, said the research by WWF Scotland “which is largely favourable towards heat pumps, nonetheless makes it clear that it will be a more expensive option for at least half the houses currently heated by gas”.

He added: “It points out that the cost of heat pump systems ‘begins at’ £12,000, and that householders will have to fund much of those costs. It also admits that there are ‘challenges’ fitting them in flats and tenements.

“Most people think that heat pumps will have an important role to play in the move towards net zero, but this shows that they are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Yet that’s the position that has been taken by Patrick Harvie, the Green minister responsible, who has taken a dogmatic and inflexible approach.

“The reality is that any sensible transition will require a mix of options and solutions, and should not involve disproportionate costs.”