Subscribing to our award-winning Hub enables readers to receive regular emails with the top articles most likely to interest them

George Clarke is astounded that people still haven’t heard of heat pumps

Mitsubishi Electric has recently conducted some research (soon to be published), that suggests 7 in 10 people know little or nothing about heat pumps. 

On the one hand I find this really surprising because heat pumps have been in the press and across many forms of media in a MASSIVE way over the last 2 years.

The government have been pushing air source heat pumps and so has the industry. They are now regarded as one of the ecological and sustainable replacements for fossil-fuel burning heating systems. 

But, on the other hand, with people being bombarded with so much information from many different directions about so many ‘alternative solutions’ to virtually everything, it is hardly surprising that they aren’t up to speed with air source heat pumps.

The next question is often “so how does your heat pump work then?”

George Clarke George Clarke Architect, writer, TV presenter and Ecodan Ambassador

Rising energy bills

As we know, things are also pretty tough out there at the moment.

There is a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation is a big problem with food prices soaring and interest rate rises pushing up mortgage repayments.

Of course, for those really struggling to pay their bills every month, they aren’t thinking about changing their gas boiler to an air source heat pump. They don’t have the disposable income or savings to be able to pay the capital costs of the kit and the installation, so why would they educate themselves about them?

But the fact is energy bills are going absolutely crazy, and those on low incomes are being hit the hardest.

And if, as predicted, gas prices are only going to rise and rise and rise over the next 10 years then the government should be providing more financial assistance to low-income families for them to change the gas boilers for a low-carbon heating solution. 

What is worrying though, is that there are many households with a reasonable amount of disposable income that could quite easily replace their fossil-fuel-burning gas boilers with an air-source heat pump but are still choosing not to do it. 

Why not move to a heat pump?

Talking from my own experience of being in the industry and also visiting hundreds and hundreds of different households for my job as a presenter and broadcaster, I personally come across many reasons why these people, who could afford to move to an air source heat pump, aren’t making the change right now.

Here are just a few of the reasons I come across, in no particular order and with a bit of cross-over:

  • People don’t have a clue what an air source heat pump is
  • People don’t understand the technology or how it works
  • People have heard of an air-source heat pump but have never actually seen one (this is common!)
  • People have seen an air source heat pump unit outside a house but thinks it’s an air conditioning unit
  • People know a bit about air source heat pumps, but are sceptical about new technology and prefer to stick with what they know
  • People think the technology is too new and would prefer other people to test the technology for longer before they can trust it themselves.
  • Some people who do educate themselves about air source heat pumps actually DON’T BELIEVE the technology works
  • Some people disregard the technology without having ever seen an air source heat pumps!
  • People want to wait until their existing boiler has completely packed in before making a change
  • People are prioritising buying a new electric car to replace their petrol or diesel car.

I get all of these reasons. I don’t agree with them all, but I completely understand why people think the way they do.

It’s a question of trust

I have friends, who aren’t daft and who aren’t short of a few quid, come round to my house and when they see my air-source heat pump in my garden for the first time either say “what’s that?” Or “is that one of those heat-pump things?”

The next question is often “so how does it work then?”

You can then imagine how I get into all of the technology (in the simplest and easiest way possible) and then take them into the house to go through how straight forward it is. On seeing the product first-hand and beginning to understand how it works begins to change their mindset and they slowly come round.

But what really swings it for them is when they know that I trust the technology, that the system works really well in my house and that they realise that I simply wouldn’t accept a product or a system that didn’t work well for me, my family and my home.

Then they realise I’ve actually had an air source heat pump for a few years now, providing clean, green and affordable (in comparison to my gas bill) heating and hot water for my home.

They then trust the system because I genuinely trust it.

And I trust it because at my house it really does work like a dream.

I simply wouldn’t be writing this blog and I wouldn’t be part of the heat pump family if it didn’t work so well.

Yes, your home needs to have sufficient levels of insulation and be thermally efficient for it to work properly, but all of these important factors are properly surveyed and analysed before a new heat pump system is designed for your home.

And of course, any new system has to be properly fitted and commissioned by an approved installer.

Thankfully several of my friends have now made the change to air source heat pumps and love the system, but annoyingly some of them fall into the category of simply waiting. I’m not entirely sure what for!

It’s not new!

Let me reassure you of a few things. Heat pump technology has been around for years! In fact the first heat pump was created by an Austrian scientist called Peter von Rittinger sometime between 1855 and 1857!

Mitsubishi Electric’s factory in Scotland has just celebrated its 30th anniversary and has been manufacturing their innovative Ecodan air-source heat pump for over 12 years now.

I have the Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan Ultra Quiet model installed at my house and I promise you the technology is sound and the system works brilliantly.

I buy my electricity (to power the ASHP) from a renewable energy supplier, which I’ll admit isn’t the cheapest electricity on the market, but I’m very, very happy to spend a few quid more to get the greenest electricity I can. Obviously, I realise I’m in a lucky position to be able to do that.

If you can afford to replace your current gas boiler with an air source heat pump (and you have already made the existing fabric of your home thermally efficient) THEN PLEASE DO IT!

“MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES” and upgrade to a renewable heating and hot water system THIS SUMMER, when you don’t need your heating. The summer is the best time to do it!

I promise you, you will reap the rewards of having a clean and green renewable heating system this winter and for many, many winters to come.

Safeguard yourself against what is coming down the line. 

George Clarke is an Architect, writer, TV presenter and Ecodan Ambassador