BLOG: Are tenants & home-buyers looking for heat pumps?
Published: 16 Aug, 2023

The issue holding back the widespread installation of heat pumps across the UK may not be consumer sentiment.

It is a well-known adage that location takes precedence when looking for a new home. After that, people tend to prioritise architectural features, finishes, internal layout, or outdoor space. However, given that our planet is transforming due to human-accelerated climate change, it’s worth asking how many people think about decarbonisation and net-zero technologies while house-hunting.

Rightmove, the UK’s largest online real estate property portal, is uniquely placed to help clarify these questions via its bespoke data services. In fact, Rightmove has recently undertaken research demonstrating that improving UK homes’ energy efficiency increases asset values. Their report found a “property could be worth £55,786 more if its EPC rating improves from an F to a C.” This is a considerable return on investment given the average ‘green improvement’ spend is around £3,445.

Specifically, it is helpful to understand if prospective home buyers and tenants are actively looking for homes with heat pumps and if interest in them has increased in recent years. While there is little available data on the question, an intuition persists among certain landlords that tenants remain sceptical about the technology. Although survey data confirms tenants are overwhelmingly satisfied with heat pumps once they have lived with them, there is scant information about whether buyers and renters are actively seeking them out.

According to Rightmove, only 13 keyword searches for “heat pumps” were made on their platform in 2018. By 2021, searches for heat pumps were up 1,423%. Between 2021 and 2022, searches for heat pumps were up a further 370% – and although we have only partial data for 2023, it appears likely this year will see a further increase in interest from last year.

This data is encouraging for the UK’s domestic decarbonisation agenda. Not only can improving the energy efficiency of your home increase its market price, but prospective buyers and tenants are increasingly including net-zero technologies such as heat pumps in their search criteria.

This positive shift in awareness is corroborated by GoogleTrends data that demonstrate searches for “heat pump installer” have increased over time, particularly since mid-2020.

Trend in searches for “heat pump installer” in the UKSource: GoogleTrends 2023.

What both the Rightmove and GoogleTrends data illustrate is that consumers in the UK have begun to get the message from policy-makers, advocates, and the media alike. A search of News listings in May of each of the last six years in Google reveals a considerable increase in messaging from 2020 that sees no signs of abating.

PeriodResults
May 2018795
May 20191,830
May 20202,370
May 20213,160
May 20222,690
May 20237,780
Worldwide’ News’ results for “Heat Pump.” Source: Google 2023.

The key takeaways from these three data sources are: a) positive heat pump messaging works; b) people in the UK are interested in installing heat pumps; c) buyers and tenants are looking for homes with heat pumps; and d) installing a heat pump can add value to your investment.

The issue holding back the widespread installation of heat pumps across the UK may not be consumer sentiment. Instead, current research underway by CaCHE seems to indicate it may have more to do with a lack of information concerning the kinds of fabric and heating system upgrades required to permit heat pumps to perform to the manufacturer’s specifications, as well as a lack of funding options to assist homeowners with the costs associated with such fabric and heating system upgrades (above and beyond the cost of the heat pump unit and paying to have someone install it).

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