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Heat Pump Paradox: The Industry's Adoption Divide

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Mars
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To gauge the personal adoption of heat pump technology among experts, we conducted a poll targeting professionals in the heat pump industry. This simple survey aimed to show whether those who are intimately familiar with this technology, work with it daily, and have their careers invested in its growth, have chosen to install heat pumps in their own homes.

The poll results reveal a disconcerting paradox. Despite a slim majority of 52% demonstrating their belief in the technology by installing heat pumps in their own homes, there remains an alarmingly high percentage—nearly 50%—of professionals who, even though they are the standard-bearers of this technology, haven't adopted it personally. This includes both those who are still on the fence and contemplating putting one in and a stark 24% outright rejecting the idea of installing a heat pump in their own living spaces.

This gap between professional advocacy and personal action is surprising to me. It sends mixed signals about the efficacy and value of heat pumps, undermining the industry's efforts to promote these systems as essential for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

The reluctance or refusal of so many in the field to "walk the talk" betrays a troubling level of skepticism or inertia that could hamper broader adoption efforts.

To better understand the motivations and reservations of the heat pump industry insiders, we turned to their own words. The comments left by some professionals when they voted offer an unfiltered insight into the myriad factors influencing their decisions.

Paul: "I would have one immediately, but I'm not prepared to pay a fee to MCS, CPS or any other agency to access the BUS grant. Paying to access work is immoral. It's nothing more than an ineffective insurance policy. If a problem occurred, I'd have to complain to myself... about myself... to be referred back to me by the scheme. If I really pushed a complaint, I'd have to encourage the scheme to investigate me and take steps to recover fees from me to give back to me. Since there wouldn’t be a complaint or any involvement from any scheme, why would I require a scheme fee? What would I be paying for? Nothing other than access to the BUS grant, a private company levying a charge to access funds allocated to encourage the uptake of heat pumps—a commission. But what do I get out of the equation?"

Damon: "I don’t have one. I recently installed a hydrogen fuel cell. If I were to get one, it would be a Viessmann. The logistics of my house are also an issue. We have no gable end. The cylinder would need to go into the garage or the airing cupboard, but they are on opposite sides of the house. It would need to be placed on the boundary line and run along our house but also the customer's property, if you understand what I mean. It would go up the side and then into the fascia and soffit, be picked up in the loft, and then across into the airing cupboard. That's a 24-meter run one way. The garden has been landscaped, so there is only one position for it. I would need to speak to them to see if they would allow me to run trunking along and up my house, but it would be very unsightly for them as well... We have a full non-barrier microbore system. The house has chipboard floors and extensive work done in the kitchen and landing, so accessing new pipework would be difficult. This isn’t our forever home; we plan to move once our fourth girl gets into the local school. It’s a balanced choice I made. I tried to do the best I could. If I had been into renewables and self-employed when we bought the house 6 1/2 years ago, it would have been a different story.

Bruce: "I don't have a heat pump in my home but have probably designed and specified thousands and more successful installations over decades. All of this conundrum is not about heat pumps; it's about installing heat pumps. The whole heating fraternity, as I have said many times, is in poor shape, apart from a few good ones doing it well with fossil fuels and the heat pump. Imagine if all the natural gas and oil boilers in the UK were installed correctly, operating at low flow temperatures, and the millions of pounds saved in gas consumption and also that of carbon. There are thousands of fossil fuel boilers being installed every week in the UK, the majority swap outs, with little if any design replacement criteria applied as to size. The heat pump isn't at fault; the heating industry is.

Simon F: "Practice what you preach. A lot of people talk about heat pumps but don't have one. It reminds me of an unmarried priest giving marriage lessons."

Ben: "I have one, which, as a salesman in this space, helps a LOT. 'Well, would you fit one in your own house?' Yes, I would; in fact, I have. It saves money, saves carbon, and gives me firsthand experience of what I’m talking about daily."

Ian: "I'd actually like to; the Mrs., not so much. Space is also potentially an issue, but I have an 8mm metal cable pulled tight from my house to the garage. I was wondering about putting a heat pump on the garage wall, a cylinder in the garage, and F/R/H/C in flexible ductwork between them."

Graham: “I've had nothing but heat pumps in my house.”

Stephen: "I've been advocating for this technology for over 20 years! When asked if I had one, I always gave the same reply: that the house needed work before replacing the combi boiler with a heat pump and cylinder. Over the years, we have upgraded the 1930s building in terms of insulation and the heating system. For 3 years, the boiler operated at a maximum flow temperature of 40°C. The house was always warm. Eventually, we got around to converting the loft into a plant room (and dumping ground!). This conversion provided space to fit a cylinder, other hydraulics, lots of monitoring equipment, and a decoupled test rig to experiment with. We've had the unit since September 23. The house is now remarkably more comfortable, consistently warmer where it needs to be, and comfortably cooler on the first floor, much to my wife's delight! It's nearing the end of the heating season now, and I can categorically state that this is cheaper than gas - with an SCOP well over 4. So now, when asked if I have one in my house, I say, 'Yes, yes I do...' and then proceed to bore them to death with the above (and more!)..."

Sune: "I removed a perfectly good wood pellet heating system and installed a heat pump well before we started supplying them, because you have to get to know and support what you supply. 'How do you heat your house?' is one of my favorite questions to ask people in the renewable heating industry. It's actually surprisingly common for people not to heat their own house with the appliance that they supply."

Simon S: "Every bit of tech we supply is tested at home first. If I can't live with it, why should my clients? That's why we have so many products on the 'shit list'."

Closing thoughts

Reflecting on the insights from industry insiders, it's evident that the path to widespread heat pump adoption has its challenges, from systemic barriers to personal circumstances. However, the experiences of individuals like Sune, Simon S., Graham, Ben and Simon F., highlight a way forward. Their decision to adopt this technology in their own lives allows for more genuine and relatable discussions with homeowners and potential buyers. Such authenticity and personal testimony are crucial in establishing trust and overcoming doubts about heat pumps.

While the perspectives of Sune, Simon S., Graham, Ben and Simon F. demonstrate the positive impact personal adoption of heat pumps can have on advocating for the technology, there's a contrasting stance that warrants some scrutiny. Take Paul, for instance, a heat pump installer himself, who paradoxically hesitates to install a heat pump in his own home due to objections over the financial logistics associated with government grants. Paul's reluctance to pay a fee to MCS or any other agency to access the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) grant, despite the fact that as an installer, he would not incur the typical labour costs, exposes a striking contradiction.

If Paul, with direct access to resources and knowledge, and without the barrier of labour costs, still finds reasons not to invest in renewable heating technology, it begs the question: How can he, in good conscience, expect homeowners to overlook similar or even greater financial hurdles?

Despite the reservations of some, there's ample reason for optimism. The shift towards widespread adoption among industry professionals transcends individual decisions; it's a collaborative endeavour that promises to shape the future of heat pump technology positively. This collective push towards embracing heat pumps is not just about personal adoption but about setting a course towards a more sustainable world.

This topic was modified 4 weeks ago by Mars

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Derek M reacted
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Start to finish MCS it is costing a fortune why did they go ahead and fit it,money making exercise they never had a clue still don't.Biggest mistake I have ever made getting one.


   
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Toodles
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As one contributor mentioned, we bore people when we evangelise! I was totally convinced before starting to invest a large proportion of my life savings in renewable energy projects a few years ago. I did my research as ‘due diligence’ so that I might convince my wife of the wisdom of the large investment required to carry out my plans. 

Yes, I think I was absolutely right and things have turned out at least as well as could have been hoped - and more! I can evangelise now with confidence but… will others believe me? …Possibly. Will others be convinced they should jump onto this same bandwagon? Well… maybe, maybe not! A big decision to make and often involving a considerable investment, some disruption to fabric of building and possibly decor,  and a not inconsiderable leap of faith too! Almost anyone who has had a heat pump installed and lived through a winter with it would probably be prepared to evangelise I should think - it is a ‘no brainer’!

The barrier of the ‘Unknown’ is a biggie, financial inducements may help but I think humans are conservative by nature and so ‘Holding Nursie’s Hand’ is likely to remain the safe option for many for a long time yet. This is a great shame and no government is likely to legislate to the degree of removing one’s individual right to not install a heat pump unless it is a mandatory requirement and this suicidal scenario just isn’t very likely!

Readers of this forum (fora?) are already converts and we can talk amongst ourselves and chew the fat indefinitely - how do we get the message across and convince others that it is ‘ The way to go’???

Regards, Toodles. (Dismounts his soapbox and wanders off, humming an indeterminate tune).

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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Mars
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@toodles did you ever ask any of the representatives or installers who provided you with quotes whether they owned a heat pump themselves? I never did, and in hindsight, I realize it's a question I should have asked. Ironically, I had this conversation with the person who commissioned our system, and he didn't have a heat pump but was still using a boiler. Reflecting on that experience and the several trips he made to unsuccessfully resolve the flow issues we encountered, it all begins to make more sense now.

Buy Bodge Buster – Homeowner Air Source Heat Pump Installation Guide: https://amzn.to/3NVndlU

Follow our sustainability journey at My Home Farm: https://myhomefarm.co.uk


   
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Toodles
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@editor Of the five who we (or rather I!) shortlisted, I seem to remember one did - but I can’t remember it being a specific question asked of everyone of them. It really should have been shouldn’t it?! Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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TechnoGeek
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One general issue I have noticed in the UK is peoples obsession about pay back time. Generally people look to see how much money the technology is going to save them and then calculate how long it will be before the technology has paid for itself.
A large number of people then decide not to do anything because they are not going to be in the property long enough. When they do finally find a home to spend the remainder of their days they are usually retired pensioners who then cannot afford to put in the new technology (an issue in my local village I fear). The overall result is, very little happens and virtually zero progress.
I believe people should be made more aware of potential benefits and added value to their property by investing in renewable technology. If this type of attitude does not change then as the target net zero approaches the Government could start introducing stricter rules for example: you cannot sell a home with fossil fuel heating (which I think is already been considered in Scotland) 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Mars

   
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Toodles
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@technogeek It has been said before but, when one refits a kitchen out with all new facilities and expensive equipment, you don’t ask the fitters ‘What is the return on Investment for my new kitchen fit out’? Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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Mars
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Posted by: @toodles

@editor Of the five who we (or rather I!) shortlisted, I seem to remember one did - but I can’t remember it being a specific question asked of everyone of them. It really should have been shouldn’t it?! Regards, Toodles.

It’ll be a question in the future for sure… not a deal breaker, but it’ll definitely be asked.

 

Buy Bodge Buster – Homeowner Air Source Heat Pump Installation Guide: https://amzn.to/3NVndlU

Follow our sustainability journey at My Home Farm: https://myhomefarm.co.uk


   
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 HCas
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Fascinating stats. And I would guess that your survey probably overestimates the number of professionals with a heat pump, because your audience is more skewed towards the heat pump enthusiasts. 

Great to see that none of the comments refer to heat pumps not working. That would have been really worrying. 


   
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Toodles
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@hcas Another factor that perhaps may be worth consideration: The proportion of ‘The General Public’ who have opted to have a heat pump installed is not a statistic I have to hand but, I know that it is a very low percentage. If we now consider the amount of installers there are in the UK, we will probably find that in terms of a percentage of the UK’s population, this figure is also pretty small! Now working with the percentage take-up and then taking the percentage of the general public who are installers, we will probably have a very small number! Perhaps if we were being optimistic, we might assume that amongst installers, they might be twice or even three times as likely to have a heat pump themselves as they have the opportunity, it will still be a very small number! Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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Majordennisbloodnok
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Posted by: @toodles

@technogeek It has been said before but, when one refits a kitchen out with all new facilities and expensive equipment, you don’t ask the fitters ‘What is the return on Investment for my new kitchen fit out’? Regards, Toodles.

Actually, @toodles, whilst one might not ask the fitters that question I suspect one does still make that judgement. I know I've found myself in situations where I'm choosing between two models of a particular applicance - one with an extra feature and a cheaper one without - and asked myself "nice feature, but how often would I use it?"
I would say that "Return on Investment" is just another way of saying "is the extra benefit I get worth the extra money I'll need to spend?" and I think most of us will consider that in one way or another. Of course, when one includes or ignores the non-financial benefits of something one can fudge the ROI calculation to fit what one subjectively wants and I'm pretty sure we all do that too.
 

This post was modified 7 days ago by Mars

105 m2 bungalow in South East England
Mitsubishi Ecodan 8.5 kW air source heat pump
18 x 360W solar panels
1 x 6 kW GroWatt battery and inverter
Raised beds for home-grown veg and chickens for eggs

"Semper in excretia; suus solum profundum variat"


   
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Toodles
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@majordennisbloodnok One man’s chips are another man’s oysters.

This post was modified 7 days ago by Mars

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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