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Overcoming Barriers in Heat Pump Installation: Key Findings and Recommendations from a Recent Report

01.07.2024

As the UK strives to meet its legally binding net-zero targets by 2050, replacing fossil fuel heating systems with heat pumps and other low-carbon options is crucial. The government has set an ambitious interim goal of installing 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028. However, the current rate of installation, with only 55,000 heat pumps installed in 2022, highlights the need for significant growth in this area.

A recent project, involving collaboration with Emma Bohan from IMS Heat Pumps and Nathan Gambling from BetaTeach, sought to uncover the challenges faced by heat pump installers and provide actionable recommendations to overcome these obstacles. Here are the key findings and recommendations from the report:

Key Challenges for Heat Pump Installers

  1. Lack of Customer Demand: 41% of surveyed installers cited a lack of customer demand as the primary challenge.
  2. Difficulty in Finding Suitable Staff: 30% of respondents struggled to find additional qualified staff to meet installation demands.
  3. Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks: 19% of installers reported that unnecessary tasks and paperwork significantly slowed down the installation process.
  4. High Costs Deterring Customers: 45% of participants believed that high costs across quotes discouraged customers from proceeding with installations, with 27% noting that customers often found cheaper quotes elsewhere.
  5. Experience vs. Qualifications: Employers showed a preference for hiring experienced staff over new graduates, with over two-thirds hesitant to hire candidates without work-based learning.

Recommendations for Improvement

  1. Enhanced Financing Options: Despite the availability of government grants, other finance schemes could improve the likelihood of customers proceeding with installations.
  2. Improved Pathways for New Entrants: There is a need for better entry routes for junior staff, recent graduates, and those with theoretical qualifications but lacking practical experience.
  3. Focus on Practical Training: Employers demand a stronger emphasis on practical skills in training programmes. Support for colleges and workplace training providers is essential to meet this need.
  4. Digital Tools for Efficiency: Improved digital tools for administrative and installation tasks could streamline processes and reduce time burdens on installers.
  5. Support for MCS Umbrella Schemes: Enhanced recognition and support for MCS certification umbrella schemes can help more companies increase their installation capacity. Alternatively, reducing the paperwork and cost burden could enable smaller businesses to obtain MCS certification independently.

Conclusion

The findings from this report underline the need for systemic changes to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps in the UK. By addressing the challenges of customer demand, workforce capabilities, and administrative inefficiencies, the industry can move closer to meeting the government's ambitious targets. With focused efforts on improving training, supporting small businesses, and providing better financial options for customers, the path to a low-carbon heating future looks more attainable.

SERT is committed to facilitating these improvements and supporting the growth of the heat pump installation sector. Through targeted training programmes and recruitment solutions, we aim to bridge the gaps identified in this report and contribute to a sustainable future.

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