Check in here regularly to get updates on our pilot's progress. We'll share our progress to let you know how the pilot is going and what we've learned along the way.

21 September: live testing

Building on our work over the last few months, we have launched a live service at This will enable us to test out the heat pump visitor service journey and key touch points that we’ve mapped and prioritised over the course of this project. We’re just about to start welcoming visitors who have signed up for eight different events across four locations in London and Glasgow. Huge thanks to our hosts for agreeing to host events and to everyone who’s signed up already.

Building on service standard best practices, our aim with this prototype is to provide a seamless experience for visitors using live content and respond to feedback from users in real time. This phase is all about understanding how well this prototype meets our user’s needs (both visitors and hosts) which will help us to define a clear future vision for the service that works for multiple partners. By creating a high-fidelity prototype, we want to get into detailed usability testing such as how easy for users it is to navigate through the service from end to end.

What we’ve done

  • organised open events with two private homeowners with heat pumps and two installer showrooms in London and Glasgow
  • built a simple landing page using webflow that explains the proposition and benefits of the service to users
  • created an integrated form to capture sign ups and store them securely within Nesta’s contact management system
  • managed sign up for events using scheduling service Calendly alongside manual emails to participants
  • sent out surveys to participants through Alchemer, a survey platform

A visual of the homepage of the live landing page for visiting a heat pump

What we've learned

We are gaining valuable feedback in real time as we follow our users’ progress through the service and respond to their feedback. We are seeing very positive signs of real demand, with over 150 sign ups in two weeks from a small amount of direct promotion. We have also seen where some of the more time-intensive points of the service are – for example,

scheduling events with hosts – and have identified some potential improvements for how to keep users engaged if they sign up but are unable to visit immediately. We’re continuing to collect feedback continuously and will share more here as visits take place.

What's happening next

Visits from our signed-up users will happen over the next week. We are surveying visitors before and after they attend and will be running more in depth conversations with visitors and hosts to follow up. The site will remain open for further sign ups and we are looking at opportunities to run visits in other locations soon.

We are also planning to run an event soon to share learning from the work so far and explore how this could grow with a range of other partners. Please get in touch if you’d like to take part.

15 August: from discovery to live pilot

Over the past two months, we have been developing and validating a pilot service to enable people who are interested in getting a heat pump to see one working in real life and learn more about what it’s like to have one from people who know best.

We’ve begun to prioritise the key needs of visitors and hosts when visiting or demonstrating a heat pump and have mapped out models for a service experience that will enable these needs to be met. We will be launching a small-scale pilot in September to take members of the public through this end-to-end service and establish whether the model works.

What we've learned

Our work with visitors, hosts, manufacturers and event organisers over the last few weeks has shown that there are a number of key moments before, during and after any visit to a heat pump where the service has quite different requirements. We’ve also discovered that there is an important role to be played in improving the accessibility and availability of locations for visitors and in simplifying the requirements of managing this for hosts. We also believe that simple resources and advice for visitors can be brought together pre-visit to enable users to better understand the technology and their own home so that they can get the most out of their visit. Similarly we believe that connecting visitors with resources and clear directions on actions to take post-visit will increase the effectiveness of the service.

We have also developed a data model based on UK household data to estimate the capacity of a show home network. By adjusting some key variables such as the number of show homes, the distance visitors are willing to travel and the number of visitors the show home can serve over a set period of time, we can begin to see how many show homes we would need. We can also then work out expectations for visitor numbers and which areas would particularly benefit.

The modelling has shown that a combination of show homes and other kinds of public showroom will probably be required to reach a large enough audience. We are interested in testing showrooms as part of this service to understand whether different types of visits can help people find what they need.

What we've done

We have also:

  • created user profiles, with distinct needs and priorities. Our target users are likely to have a pre-existing interest in purchasing a heat pump but still have questions they want to be answered before making a final decision
  • went on home site visits. The first was in a potential location for the pilot trial where we saw the property and discussed the project with the homeowner. We also visited a few open homes at Energy Saving Homes Oxford and spoke to the hosts, to understand their motivations for opening up their homes and observe a show-home event in practice.
  • developed an evaluation survey to be given to show-home visitors to quantify the effects of the service on them.

What's next?

In August and September we’ll be recruiting participants in pilot locations and connecting them with open homes and showrooms in those areas. By the end of September we hope to have a working model of the service that can be used in a wider range of pilot locations. Please get in touch if you are interested in working with us to develop this service.

10 June: getting started

We’ve spent the first two weeks of this project running lots of interesting interviews, location scouting for pilots and learning new things about the potential of show homes and showrooms.

Some things we've done

  • We’ve spoken with two homeowners who have recently run heat pump open days in their own homes in London and Glasgow, giving us a great idea of the kinds of things that hosts are able to share, as well as what has been most useful for visitors.
  • We are making plans to run some further test events in one of these homes over the coming months.
  • We’ve begun the design of a survey to evaluate these events to help us understand where people are currently at in their understanding of heat pumps and how a visit can support them.
  • A number of green open homes organisations have also spoken with us – it’s great to hear from many experienced people out there who have run and supported similar events over many years. Thanks to Centre For Sustainable Energy, SuperHomes, Home Energy Scotland and Energy Saving Homes Oxford.
  • We’ve also met with a heat pump manufacturer to understand how they are communicating the products directly to consumers and engineers through public showrooms and mobile events.

Looking forward, we’ve also been exploring possibilities for a community-based pilot in Scotland in collaboration with Architecture & Design Scotland, as well as exploring data on heat pump distribution across the UK to better understand where and at what scale show homes might be best used.

Visitors admire a heat pump at an open day in Glasgow, 2022

What's happening next

  • We’ll be making visits to some homes and heat pump showrooms.
  • We'll begin the design of a small pilot event which we will open up to the public.
  • We'll start marketing the event to test public awareness and audience responses.

Image kindly supplied by Loco Home Retrofit