Majority of homeowners will install heat pumps if financially supported

Heat pumps are a crucial part of the Government’s decarbonisation strategy but the poll of more than 2,000 homeowners across the UK found that, while a significant 8 in 10 are willing to replace gas boilers with low carbon solutions such as heat pumps, they will only do so with substantial financial support.

The survey, carried out by Censuswide for the RSK Group, the leading environmental, engineering and technical services provider, also found a lack of understanding of the costs of installation with the respondents’ average estimate being £3,290. More than half of respondents said the high upfront cost was the most likely reason to persuade them not to install a heat pump with more than one in three saying they would need a grant of more than 50% of the cost to consider installing a heat pump.

Current proposed grants are insufficient

That means grants of up to £4,000 – due to be offered through the government’s Clean Heat Grants scheme scheduled to be launched next April and run for two years – are unlikely to be enough to persuade the majority of those to want to install a heat pump to do so. A recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research warned that only six per cent of the heat pumps needed to reach the UK’s net zero target of 2050 are currently being installed.

The findings also come ahead of the long-awaited heat and buildings strategy from the Government expected to finally be released in the coming weeks, which will set out measures to cut carbon emissions from heating homes, offices and other properties.

Darren Snaith, director specialising in renewable heat at the RSK Group, said: “This survey shows that homeowners are willing, in principle, to change from gas boilers to low carbon alternatives such as heat pumps.

“But it shows the importance of sufficient government incentives to encourage the uptake of heat pumps as a viable alternative to gas boilers with just under 80% of respondents saying they would only install a heat pump system if they received adequate financial support from government.

“While the proposed £4,000 available from the Clean Heat Grant would go some way to encourage some to choose heat pumps it may not be enough to encourage the majority to adopt a heating technology that is here and now and ready to go in terms of being a mass market solution.

“The government needs to seriously consider increasing the grant available, and extending its duration beyond two years, if we’re really going to make inroads in reaching net zero.

“It also has a communication job to do, given that only around half of people know of the intention to scrap gas boilers.”