This is our submission to a Westminster parliamentary committee inquiry into action the government could take to grow the market for heat pumps. The inquiry focussed on a series of key areas. Our key recommendations are outlined below:
Role of government: The key role of the government here is to provide long-term policy stability, strong regulation and a clear policy framework. The current demand-led approach has failed to grow the market as anticipated, the tariff-based subsidy programme has not proved cost-effective and so stronger government intervention is required.
Skills gap: The supply chain will not invest in personnel and skills at the rate required until there is more policy certainty in this area.
Quality standards: As a consumer-focussed organisation, we support mandatory quality standards. Customer protection and high standards are paramount to building trust in what is currently a niche technology in the UK.
Bringing down the cost of heat pumps: Experience from Sweden and Finland shows that once fossil-fuel heating is no longer the cheapest option, the market can change rapidly. Our submission makes recommendations for reducing both the upfront and running costs of heat pumps. Combined with new business models and future income from flexibility services, these would make subsidy-free heat pumps a viable prospect.
Consumer awareness: While reducing costs is necessary to grow the market, equal attention must be paid to building consumer awareness. Heating is an emotional as well as an economic decision. From our experience of helping homeowners transition and adjust to low carbon heating, this will require a concerted approach to ‘hand-hold’ consumers throughout the transition.