Heat pump myths dispelled

19 Sep 2023

Heat pumps

It’s disappointing to read in a recent article in the Guardian, that ‘the UK is increasingly out of step with a strong international push towards low-carbon heating’ France, for example, installs ten times as many heat pumps as the UK.

Why are we lagging behind?

According to a study undertaken by Oxford University and the Regulatory Assistance Project thinktank, published in the specialist energy research journal, Joule, it’s a combination of factors. A lack of understanding and familiarity with technologies that have been commonplace in Europe for many decades, but also, misinformation. The study’s co-author, Dr Jan Rosenow, director of European programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project, said:

 “People [in the UK] don’t know much about heat pumps, so it’s very easy to scare them by giving false information.”

One spurious claim, refuted in the recent study, is that heat pumps don’t work well in cold climates.  The OU/RAP study published data from seven field studies, undertaken across North America, Asia and Europe and found that in temperatures below zero, heat pumps not only out-performed oil and gas heating systems, they were found to be up to three times more efficient.

The report’s findings show that heat pumps are suitable for almost all homes in Europe, including the UK, and should give policy makers the confidence they need to bring in the necessary measures to roll them out rapidly across the UK.

Incentives to move forward

You’re probably aware of the The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, launched in April 2022 and effective until April 2025. The government is currently consulting on further proposals to incentivise households to switch to heat pumps.

Householders must have work carried out by installers registered with the MCS. There’s more information on the scheme and an eligibility check list here

To help train up the amount of installers needed to meet heat pump targets, the UK’s first ever dedicated apprenticeship was announced earlier this month. It is hoped that The Low-Carbon Heating Technician Apprenticeship will gear up a new generation of workers in support of the government's aim to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. 

MCS, (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), which led the development of the new apprenticeship, estimates that the UK will require 39,000 qualified heat pump installers by the end of the decade if we are to meet the renewable energy-powered heating system targets. MCS CEO, Ian Rippon, said:

“It is critical that we have dedicated pathways to develop an army of renewable heating installers with certifiable skills who know how to design and fit these systems efficiently. Most importantly, this workforce will know how to support homeowners in heating and decarbonising their homes.”

Click here for more information on the apprenticeship.

What can you do as a training centre offering LCL Awards’ Heat Pump qualifications?

Firstly, equip yourself with the facts, then you’ll be in a good position to allay fears and misconceptions that all too often fuel stories in the press. Heat pump technology is improving all the time and it is here to stay.

The apprenticeship is a positive step in the right direction, but there is an existing workforce out there who must be encouraged to upskill. By providing existing electricians and heating engineers with the qualifications they need to take advantage of the growing renewables market, you too can help in the UK’s drive to go greener!

Find out more about our renewable qualifications: LCL Awards - Renewables