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Lack of demand affects heat pump sales

UK: A lack of customer demand is holding back heat pump sales in the UK, according to a new report by sustainable innovation charity Nesta. 

In a survey of UK installers, 41% reported a lack of customer demand as a major stumbling block to achieving UK government targets. 45% believed that customers who received a quote didn’t progress with a heat pump installation as the costs were considered too high. A further 27% believed that customers received a cheaper quote from another installer.

The survey, conducted in association with IMS Heat Pumps and training consultant Nathan Gambling of BetaTeach, was carried out online in October and November last year. The final analytical sample included detailed responses from 345 installers.

In all, 87% of respondents wanted to increase the number of heat pumps they install each year, but reported challenges to making this a reality. 

Only 16% of sole traders and 43% of companies with one to five employees reported that they mostly or only install heat pump systems, suggesting that a large proportion may be able to replace much of their existing work with heat pump installations, if barriers to doing so are addressed.

Staff

In addition to the lack of demand, 30% reported an inability to find additional suitable staff. Employers preferred to hire more experienced staff, with most expecting a much higher level of practical heat pump installation experience than graduates currently have. Only 2% said they would take on a first job applicant, with over two thirds admitting that they would be unlikely to take on candidates who had qualifications without work-based learning.

While there are government-funded grants available to almost all homeowners, respondents felt that other types of finance schemes would increase the likelihood of customers accepting a quote.

There was also a call for improved pathways for junior staff, recent graduates and those who have qualifications without work-based learning to enter the sector. There was also a clear demand from employers for a deeper focus on practical skills in the training that apprentices receive. 

Administrative burden

The responses suggest that administrative tasks may be a bigger barrier to increasing installations than elements of the job relating to physically installing the heat pump. The report suggests that finding ways to make these tasks less time intensive, could allow engineers to increase the number of installations they complete.

The full survey report can be read and downloaded here.

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