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Majority of Homeowners Not Yet Convinced by Heat Pumps, Research Shows

Energy efficient heat pump with a sun flare
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The majority of homeowners are not yet convinced that installing heat pumps is right for them, according to a new study.

Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps are sustainable heating systems that can help to lower our carbon emissions and have comparatively low running costs compared to fossil fuel boilers. 

But despite the government’s pledge that 600,000 heat pumps will be installed in homes per year by 2028, around two-thirds of homeowners do not feel they confidently understand what a heat pump is, how it works or how they purchase one.

This finding comes from research commissioned by law firm Shakespeare Martineau of 1,596 homeowners, which also revealed that nearly two in five homeowners (37%) said that if their boiler needed replacing in the next six months they would replace it with a new gas boiler.

Cost is an issue for homeowners too. When asked if they thought heat pumps were an affordable option for them, only 18% said yes. Nearly two thirds (62%) said no, and 20% said they were unsure. 

“There Needs to be Further Incentives”

The government has announced steps to make heat pumps more affordable for homeowners in recent months. Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped VAT on energy-saving technology such as heat pumps in March, and the Boiler Upgrade Scheme opened for applications this month, which provides up to £6,000 towards the cost of a heat pump. 

But Sushma Maharaj, partner at Shakespeare Martineau, has questioned whether this is enough, especially considering some heat pumps can cost upwards of £10,000,

“The Chancellor’s announcement to scrap VAT on energy saving technology is a step in the right direction, as is the £5,000 grant, but it will still leave the public – particularly the average ‘able to pay’ household – well out of pocket,” she said.

“When consumers are already combatting the rising cost of living, if they are required to fork out large sums for new technology there needs to be further incentives, such as additional grants, interest free loans, reduced council tax or greater influence of Energy Performance Certificate rating on the value of their home in order to improve uptake.”

The Shakespeare Martineau white paper also identified that 60% of homeowners were unaware of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, while 28% were not able to answer the question, how do heat pumps work?

“With the ‘average’ household having little understanding of community energy and only a minority of this group considering low carbon technology (heat pumps) as an affordable option, more must be done to educate and financially support this group,” Sushma added.

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 


He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.