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Policy brief: Heat pumps – five key policy areas for accelerating deployment in the UK

12 October, 2023

Policy brief: Heat pumps – five key policy areas for accelerating deployment in the UK

Jake Barnes

Briefing   Policy & Governance

Jake Barnes, Taru Silvonen, and Mike Taylor

About the research

Heat pumps are a critical technology for reducing carbon emissions associated with residential heating. Accumulated knowledge suggests a coordinated approach is required to accelerate deployment.

In this project we undertook a rapid socio- technical, whole-systems analysis of the state of residential heat pump diffusion in the UK. The results were then fed into three deliberative workshops with stakeholders across policy, practice and academia.

Each workshop employed a decision theatre methodology – a novel approach designed to foster deliberation between multiple stakeholders on complex societal issues – and resulted in participants making decisions about what is required to accelerate heat pump deployment in the UK.

Analysis of these results showed clear agreement on five areas for change. The common priorities identified across the three workshops are detailed in the table below.

Recommendations for policy

  • Raise awareness of heat pumps and their role in reducing carbon emissions from housing, through a large scale, publicly- backed information campaign.
  • Demonstrate strong policy commitment at the top of government and and deliver a coherent long-term policy framework.
  • Expedite fuel price rebalancing and facilitate new value propositions that reduce total cost of ownership.
  • Acknowledge the disaggregation of the installer industry into multiple roles and provide targeted support to each.
  • Establish consumer confidence and simplify the customer journey.

Common priorities for change across three decision theatre workshops

Fostering a clear societal narrative Developing and delivering a clear policy framework Increasing affordability Building installer capacity Improving the customer journey
Decision theatre 1 A clear narrative from government around heat pumps to consumers A costed, coherent, and long-term demand side strategy Make heat pumps more affordable Up skilling workforce to match expected demand Reduce complexity and improve customer journey
Decision theatre 2 Raised awareness in society of importance of Decarbonising heat A phased approach to ending sale of new oil and gas domestic heating systems Lower electricity prices and reduce upfront cost differential to gas boilers Requirement for heating engineers to undertake low temperature heating training over next 5 years
Decision theatre 3 Public are on board and see it as a national mission Clear policy framework Establish consumer confidence

Further information

Research paper: ‘No courage at the heart of Government’: What are the most important changes needed to accelerate heat pump deployment in the UK?

Publication details

Barnes, J. 2023. Heat pumps – five Government actions to accelerate deployment. CREDS Policy brief 028. Oxford, UK: Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash