What is the greatest hidden obstacle to the widespread adoption of heat pumps? Surprisingly, it’s a gender issue: women, influenced by the attitudes of men.
For a decade, I have been marketing heat pumps to homeowners, and a recurring pattern has emerged. Typically, the husband, enthusiastic about a new project, conducts research on heat pumps and invites us to provide a quote. His excitement is evident, but as we discuss the project with him, there seems to be a reluctance to fully commit to the installation. Often, it’s revealed that his wife is uncertain about the idea.
This isn’t always the case, of course. In many instances, the woman of the house initiates contact and manages the entire transaction, but the aforementioned scenario is more common.
In situations where I am fortunate, the wife is present, and I can address her directly. Otherwise, I am left to speculate about her concerns while conversing with her husband as an intermediary.
It’s a scientific fact that women generally feel colder than men. This leads to two main concerns: firstly, women tend to be more anxious about being cold. Our explanations of “low temperature” heating and cooler radiators can be worrying for those not deeply involved in the project. Secondly, women fear losing control by transitioning from a familiar heating system to an unfamiliar one, especially when it’s chosen by a male partner whose understanding of their need for warmth they might doubt.
Another frequent worry I hear relates to drying laundry on radiators. Sadly, even in the 21st century, women often disproportionately shoulder household responsibilities like laundry, making this a significant concern.
So, it appears that women are an unintentional barrier to the adoption of heat pumps.
But the question remains: Why? Unfortunately, men, the answer involves you.
Before any immediate reactions, let me clarify. The heating industry is predominantly male. Many men sell heat pumps, yet I’ve never heard any of them address these issues or attempt to resolve them.
In fact, there’s an industry joke about “keeping the missus warm” that tends to trivialise women’s concerns rather than addressing them thoughtfully.
To conclude this discussion, here are three actionable steps to enhance heat pump sales:
- Recognise that women generally feel colder than men and adapt the sales approach to meet their needs.
- Hire more women, as we are doing through our training programme at my company.
- Engage with this insightful article and advocate for further research in this area.
Written by Leah Robson: Director at Your Energy Your Way