With 47% of people citing ‘installation disruption’ as the main barrier to switching to a heat pump during the current Electrification of Heat trial, a new guide supporting heating engineers to help customers make an informed decision, has been developed by the net zero innovation centre, Energy Systems Catapult.
While heat pumps installations in the UK almost tripled to an estimated 42,779 in the UK in 2021 (up almost 16,000 from 2020), surveys show only 4% of the public feel they know a lot about heat pumps, and 77% of consumers had little or no awareness at all.
The Catapult is aiming to support heating engineers in helping consumers navigate the net zero transition, dispel common misconceptions, and ensure they are fully informed about the heat pump installation journey.
The guide ‘Heat pump talk – effective conversations between customers and installers throughout the heat pump installation journey’ follows the customer journey from the initial ‘enquiry stage’ through to the post installation stage’ and sheds light on the most frequently asked customer questions. ‘Heat pump talk’ also provides example responses and follow up questions for heating professionals to discuss with their customers.
For example, at the ‘enquiry stage’, installers are provided with example responses to customer questions about the cost, insulation, available grant funding, and the efficiency of heat pumps. The guide helps installers to simplify the language used when engaging with customers, helping them to make an informed decision.
In the ‘survey and design stage’ of the process, the guide helps installers navigate the initial assessment of a customer’s house and provides questions for the installer to help determine the suitability of a heat pump for the home and the type of heat pump to install. This includes, discussing the homeowner’s heat and hot water requirements, understanding the external and internal space constraints – depending on the type of heat pump to be installed – and how to inform the customer of the options available to them based on the installer’s home assessment.
The guide was produced as part of the ‘Electrification of Heat’ Demonstration Project. The Project, which is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), seeks to better understand the feasibility of a large-scale rollout of heat pumps in homes across the UK.
During the ‘Electrification of Heat’ Demonstration Project, ESC spoke to many participants and installers about their experience of installing heat pumps. From this, ESC learned how customers and installers can interact most effectively at different stages of the customer journey.
Interview case studies were conducted with several of the participants, and three participants were asked specifically about communicating effectively with installers based on their experience in the Project. Three heating engineers installing heat pumps on behalf of the project were interviewed about how to have effective conversations with consumers. The findings of which helped to produce the ‘Heat pump talk’ guide.
Richard Halsey, Innovation Director at Energy Systems Catapult, says, “Heat pumps will undoubtedly play an important role in the decarbonisation of heating British homes, but there is still work to be done to overcome barriers to installation for consumers. We can change this. We can start by helping consumers navigate the transition to a heat pump by ensuring we provide them with clear and easy to understand information and guidance on installing a heat pump.
“The latest guide, ‘Heat pump talk’ aims to help installers put the minds of customers at ease and do-away with common misperceptions by demonstrating what a real-world heat pump installation journey looks like. The guide is not exhaustive, after all, every home is different and will require heating solutions tailored to a customer’s home, but it does provide a starting point for conversations for those installers on the front lines of the UK’s decarbonisation journey.
“While heat pump installations in homes are growing in popularity, the UK is still lagging behind Europe in terms of the number of heat pumps installed in homes. This coupled with a huge consumer awareness gap – 77% of people say they know nothing about heat pumps – makes for a challenging market. It is the heating industry’s responsibility to actively and effectively engage with consumers to improve awareness of the benefits of heat pumps and how the installation journey will impact them.”