IT is unfortunate that Keith Howell (Letters, December 13) finds himself unnecessarily distressed about the need to buy a heat pump.

Like a lot of changes which will be required as gas becomes even more unaffordable or runs out, the option of installing a heat pump is available.

He is not being forced to install one in the near future as he suggests, however assistance is available if he has to replace his broken boiler. He has the assurance that instead of spending about £3,000 to install a new boiler he can, like everyone else, access a grant of £7,500 (£9,000 for rural areas) and an interest-free loan of up to £7,500 if required to top up the £10,500 available to him by not replacing his broken boiler with another boiler.

Contrary to what he believes no benefits are required to qualify for this grant.

He suggests that he may be retired and if he is over 75 with no central heating he may even get a heat pump at no cost. He might be eligible for this help irrespective of his age if he is on certain benefits.

Heat pumps are constantly improving in design and are now available using Propane (R290) as a refrigerant with a flow temperature of 75C, which is similar to that of a gas boiler, and would only require the addition of a domestic hot water cylinder. To put things in perspective energy advisors have recommended turning the boiler temperature down on your gas boiler to as low as 60C to achieve a small improvement in the boiler efficiency without suggesting you should replace your radiators.

Like the transition to all new technologies the systems will improve and the price will fall in line with the uptake.

What should be of more concern to Mr Howell is the pricing structure of electricity imposed on us by the UK Government and Ofgem which if corrected would result in the cost to heat his house using a heat pump being half what it presently costs with his gas boiler.

He should also remember that, unlike him, not everyone has access to mains gas and a heat pump would almost certainly be the best replacement option in that case, especially with electricity priced correctly.

Iain McIntyre, Sauchie.

Read more: At last – a bit of common sense on heat pumps

Fairness will win out eventually

CARLOS Alba ("First Minister should learn the lessons of Scotland’s tricky political history", The Herald December 13) may be in the fortunate position of never having been personally disadvantaged by Section 28. But generations of LGBT people were. Although only once cited in a court case in Scotland (in 2000), from 1988 to 2000 and beyond, the section resulted in pretty much complete self-censorship of any positive mention of LGBT issues in schools. It took years after repeal for things to start to change, but changed they have. I wish I had gone to a school which had a school-supported LGBT group, the way a good number do now.

Section 28 was nasty legislation that said, directly on its face, that same-sex couples were "pretended family relationships". Repealing it in 2000 was so much more than the "virtue signalling" Mr Alba claims. In addition to the direct benefits above, repeal made clear that our new parliament could not be bullied by conservative forces spending large sums. It showed that the devolved Scotland was set to be a progressive polity, not a regressive one.

All parties except the Tories voted for repeal. Of course a large majority of all parties except the Tories also voted a year ago for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. In line with the law in many other liberal democracies around the world, the GRR Bill is a further example of progress and inclusion. The UK Government may have used its Scotland Act powers to block the bill for now, but equality and fairness will not be denied indefinitely.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh.

Minimum price policy is failing

I ALMOST choked on my glass of milk when I read the letter from Dr Alastair MacGilchrist (December 14) .

According to the National Records of Scotland, since the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in 2018, the facts show that alcohol-related deaths have risen year on year. On this evidence, how can Dr MacGilchrist claim MUP is saving 150 lives per year?

He writes that "conversely, individuals on low incomes who are heavier drinkers are affected by MUP". No doubt these will be the ones who cut back on food and other essentials - thus creating a myriad of other problems. There is also no doubt that those who introduced MUP will sit back and sweep the blame for these other problems under the carpet.

With all due respect to those at the sharp end of having to deal with alcohol-related issues, raising the price of alcohol through MUP has proved only one thing - it hasn't, and never will work.

A bit like using a nut to crack a sledgehammer.

James Simpson, Erskine.

The Herald: Is Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol working?Is Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol working? (Image: PA)

Sign up for the Letter of the Day email.

Loyalty comes at a cost

IT appears the longer you are a customer of BT, Sky, and Vodafone (to name a few), the more you pay. In some instances this can be 100% more than new customers. The majority of companies place the onus on the individual to monitor contracts and seek new deals when they expire. This leaves the elderly in our community particularly vulnerable to being overcharged.

It is morally reprehensible, but legal.

Catherine Griffin, Glasgow.

Read more: A ban on pavement parking is the right way forward

Card trick at Barlinnie

A WHILE ago I had reason to visit an old acquaintance who was temporarily detained at His Majesty's Pleasure in the Big Hoose, Barlinnie Prison.

Never having been there before I had to pick up the rules as I went. Other regular visitors were very kind and pointed me in the right direction.

Having got access to a locker into which I placed my coat, keys, wallet and so on, we proceeded upstairs to the visiting hall. A prison warder was sitting at a desk and another patted down all the visitors.

The following conversation ensued: "What's that in your pocket?"

"Oh, my bank card."

"You cannae bring that in here."

"What will I do with it?"

"Up to you pal, but you cannae bring it in here."

"Can I put it up there?" pointing at a big electrical box on the wall behind him.

"Up to you pal, but you must remember, this place is full of criminals."

Brendan Keenan, Glasgow.