A new study by a University of Glasgow led research centre has found that the UK housing sector is lagging over 30% behind neighbouring countries when it comes to the adoption of heat pumps, despite their enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide cost savings for households.

The study, carried out by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), outlined that the UK’s residential sector accounts for 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with space and water heating being the predominant sources of energy consumption and emissions.

However, the adoption of heat pumps, a key renewable source for space and water heating, is hindered by several barriers in the UK compared to countries such as Denmark and Sweden, including higher capital costs compared to conventional heating systems, mistargeted deployment, and competing economic interests among stakeholders.

With the UK committed to achieving a net-zero target by 2050, the residential sector’s mitigation is crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Sohail Ahmad, lead author of the study, commented: “The findings have important policy implications, especially in terms of enhancing financial incentives, increasing demonstrator projects, and targeting the right segments of households who are potential innovators and early adopters.”

Professor Ken Gibb, Director of CaCHE, added: “Our new study reinforces the fact that the UK residential sector must scale up the take-up of air source heat pumps if we are to achieve long term net-zero targets.”

Identifying that appropriate knowledge and awareness about heat pumps are crucial for their adoption, the study suggests attracting consumers through financial incentives and reducing the imbalance in levies on electricity and gas bills to drive demand.

The study calls for greater coherence in policies and regulations to incentivise manufacturers and installers, address stakeholders’ concerns, and provide end-users with a positive experience of heat pumps.