About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Heat pumps: a user survey

Most people live in homes that burn gas or other fossil fuels to provide heat and hot water. To reach net zero emissions by 2050, we have to switch to greener heating. Heat pumps, which run on electricity that comes increasingly from renewable sources such as wind and solar, will help us get there.

At the moment, most people are unfamiliar with heat pumps and very few (less than 1%) use heat pumps to heat their homes. This means that little is known about the first-hand experiences of owning a heat pump.

We worked with Eunomia to conduct a survey of heat pump owners to learn more about household experiences of using a heat pump and how those experiences compared to fossil fuel-based heating systems. This will help us improve uptake of heat pumps by better understanding the things people like about heat pumps and the things they feel could be improved.

What's in the report?

  • Heat pump users are highly satisfied with their heat pumps, considering them to be safe, reliable, quiet heat sources that are effective for space heating and producing hot water.
  • Overall, satisfaction levels between heat pump and gas boiler users are very similar. One notable difference was in satisfaction with 'ease of use and control', where heat pump users reported lower satisfaction and lower confidence.
  • Compared to their previous heating system, 73% of heat pump owners are as satisfied or more satisfied with their heat pump. However, this changed depending on whether they installed the heat pump into their own home or whether they moved into a home with a heat pump already installed.
  • There was no evidence that user satisfaction with heat pumps compared to their previous heating system differed according to the age of people’s home. This suggests that heat pumps are likely to be effective across the range of British residential property types.
  • Most heat pump installations were carried out by independent installers with a lead time of 1-2 months and people were generally satisfied with their installation experience.
  • When people moved into houses with heat pumps that were installed by a previous owner, their prior awareness was mixed. However, although some concerns were reported, heat pumps generally had a positive impact on people’s house purchase decisions.

Our recommendations

The heat pump survey paints a positive picture for the future of heat pump adoption, showing that the majority of users are satisfied with their system. It also highlighted some improvements that could make heat pumps even more attractive, including:

  • making clear, impartial information about heat pumps more easily accessible
  • making it easier for people to use their heat pump once they have one
  • reducing the time and disruption associated with installation

This report is part of our policy library for decarbonising home heating

Explore the library to learn more