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Blog Post 13 July 2022

Going further and faster to decarbonise heating

Carbon emissions from heating and hot water account for almost one fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas inventory. No wonder the electrification of heat is among our top priorities.

Finding more sustainable ways to meet our heating and hot water needs is crucial if we’re to reach net zero in line with national targets. By using renewable electricity to power these everyday systems we cut our reliance on fossil fuels. And today, more low and zero carbon electricity is coming on stream.

Latest generation heat pumps are integral to the necessary electrification of heat, being around three times more efficient than a gas boiler.

Energy Saving Trust’s head of renewables Anthony Kyriakides says: “What makes heat pumps so clever is that you don’t have to burn something to create heat. In fact, you’re using a modest amount of electricity to capture the heat that is already around us and redeploying it in a smart way.”

Part of Energy Saving Trust’s role is to demystify the heat pump conversation. The advice on our website aims to cut through the jargon, empowering people to make informed choices about what’s available and how it might work for them. Through a strategic partnership with Nesta, we’ve also helped map the customer journey towards heat pump installation.

In Scotland we’ve extended our reach using a new pot of the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) funding focused specifically on decarbonising heat in community settings. From almost 200 expressions of interest – a new record for our work with CARES – we offered grants and loans to 74 organisations across Scotland to help them decarbonise their buildings.

It’s clear that a significant amount of latent demand exists. Our role is to help meet that demand. In administering the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Scotland loan and cashback scheme for renewable energy in homes we’ve just had our busiest year yet. And we continue to break new ground. In Knoydart, Highland, where the community is off both the electricity and gas grids, we’re supporting a CARES hydro project to keep the lights on.

Our work takes place against a backdrop of great urgency. While the UK Government has a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028, levels have run historically at just 30,000 units. Anthony says: “We can’t bridge that gap from one year to the next. We need a clear trajectory.”

A 3D illustration of a heat pump outside a home.

Heat Pump Heroes – anatomy of a winning campaign

A campaign to boost heat pump awareness in Scotland has exceeded targets and expectations. Heat Pump Heroes led to a 65% jump in Home Energy Scotland heat pump loan applications.

With an eye on its goal of getting 1m homes to switch to heat pumps by the end of the decade, the Scottish Government asked us to create an awareness raising campaign to run in 2021.

We used market research to establish existing levels of heat pump awareness in Scotland, and to help us design messaging and define the audience for a campaign. 

We found 51% of Scottish residents had heard of heat pumps, and 41% had a good understanding of them, with one in five saying they were likely to install one within five years.

Using research findings to shape our design thinking, we recruited five heat pump heroes from the Green Homes Network, our community of 300 homeowners keen to help and encourage others to make the switch. Fresh Home Energy Scotland website content focused on our heroes and why they loved their heat pumps.

We targeted audiences using social media and Google ads according to where they were on their heat pump journey, inviting them to read our heroes’ stories to find out more. We smashed our target of 8,000 visits to our new web pages – in fact, the figure was 35,000 during the campaign.

Did we raise awareness levels? Marketing communications executive Clare Booth explains: “When we re-ran our research in March 2022 we found 73% of respondents had heard of heat pumps, up from 51% the year before. And 46% said they now had a good understanding, up from 41%.”

Heat Pump Heroes continues to direct householders towards Home Energy Scotland for free, impartial advice. From first enquiry through funding options to approved installers, we’re with people every step of the way.

Last updated: 13 July 2022