How UK builders have been left cold by heat pumps

Builders would rather admit to going over budget than talking to their customers about heat pumps – simply because they aren’t clued up on the technology or the benefits of having one.

Almost half (43%) of householders intend to renovate their homes this year and of those 75% want to the upgrade to be cleaner and greener. Yet many will be hitting a brick wall if they rely on their builder for advice.

Research by energy and sustainable solutions provider E.ON found 56% of UK builders admitted they just don’t have enough information to advise on cleaner alternatives to traditional gas boilers. Indeed 44% said they wouldn’t recommend a heat pump to customers because they are unaware of the benefits of having one. Yet it has been proven that they are three to four times more efficient that LPG, oil, electricity and gas boilers, making homes greener and cheaper to run.

Of the 1,000 construction workers surveyed, 46% said they were more comfortable confessing that crucial building materials were out of stock or unforeseen costs (40%) than discussing heat pumps (30%).

When it comes to the general public, many of them were not clearer. Half of the 1,000 UK householders polled (50%) believed they were expensive to install and 11% didn’t know there are grants available like the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme which can help subsidise the cost of a heat pump by £7,500.

E.ON has teamed up with TV architectural designer Charlie Luxton to help both builders and homeowners understand more and have greater confidence in the benefits of heat pumps.

He said: “As the nation becomes increasingly environmentally conscious, it makes sense that we’re turning our attention to sustainable home solutions and learning more about how they can benefit us in the long run.”

Common misconceptions both the public and builders have about heat pumps are that they only be installed in modern homes (20%) that they cost more to run than a gas boiler (13%) and that they only provide heating and not hot water (15%).

Dr Alastair Hotchkiss, Heat Pump Product Manager at E.ON, said: “It’s great to see that three-quarters of people want to make their homes more sustainable with solutions such as heat pumps, but there are many misconceptions about the benefits they can offer.

“Heating homes accounts for 17% of UK carbon emissions – most of which are from gas boilers. We need to make new energy work and if the UK is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we must reduce our reliance on gas; heat pumps are a fantastic way to do that, as well as making your home more sustainable and reducing your heating costs. Here at E.ON, we want to help increase the take-up of heat pumps and help close the knowledge gap that currently exists amongst both builders and the general public.”

To help the three-quarters (75%) of Brits who want to make sustainable changes to their home, Charlie Luxton offers his top tips:

  • Heat pumps can be a sustainable affordable alternative to gas or oil boilers provided they are well designed, installed and maintained.
  • Modern heat pumps can work with most existing heating systems without the need for significant alterations to existing radiators and pipework. But check with your heat pump engineer what upgrades, if any, are needed for your property.
  • If installing a heat pump, it is the perfect time to look at reducing your heating demand though insulation, draught-proofing and intelligent controls.
  • The single most important thing when fitting a heat pump is the quality of the design and installation. Always use a trusted, reputable company, seek out testimonials and ensure they have the correct credentials and approvals from relevant manufacturers.

E.ON is a Which? Trusted Trader for heat pump installations, with a heritage of being one of the UK’s first air source heat pump installers.

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