Heating Up Change: how consumers can lead the heat pump transition
The CLEAR-HP project will simplify the path to becoming a heat pump owner and help over 40,000 consumers benefit from efficient, well-running heat pumps.
Included in Europe’s ambitiousREPowerEU planwas a target to install 10 million heat pumps across the continent, a substantial acceleration of the current pace of the roll-out.
Setting a target is one thing, but reaching mass uptake will take a concerted, joined up effort at every stage of the heat pump journey. At the moment, consumers are still struggling to even take the first step on the journey to install a heat pump.
Heat pumps: why is choosing and installing a heat pump so tricky?
Amongst the many challenges, these four stand out as barriers to take up:
Identifying the right pump solution: knowing whether a heat pump is suitable for their home, or which type they might need is not easy and so consumers must rely on expert advice. In some cases, this advice is inadequate or ill-informed which leaves consumers with poorly heated homes, inefficient pumps and a wasted financial investment. When this happens, cases attract attention and can contribute to an ‘anti-heat pump narrative at the national level. This is particularly concerning given the growing pushback from the media and some leaders against any green adaptations or policies perceived as costly.
Getting homes heat pump ready: for heat pumps to deliver warmth and cost savings, home insulation must reach a particular level. Without reducing the amount of heat needed through insulating it correctly, the pump won’t function to full potential. It’s not always easy to judge the stage of insulation their home is at, and again, trusted advice on how to get it in shape is not readily available .
Finding reliable installers and retailers: trustworthy and fully informed installers are in short supply and can be hard to find. If they do find one, it can take months to book an appointment to get a home assessment and recommended system.
Financing the high upfront costs: heat pumps are very efficient and have low running costs, but they are often more expensive than the available alternatives at purchase. This can deter consumers from investing, especially older people who are less likely to appreciate the long-term benefits of the technology versus the immediate costs and hassle of an installation.
CLEAR-HP: a simpler path to heat pump purchase
Lowering the barriers and smoothing the path towards heat pump adoption needs action at different stages. Here is where a new cross-EU project funded by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency at theEuropean Commission with participation from seven national consumer groups including Euroconsumers’ members from Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain comes in. Led by BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation, with partners International Consumer Research & Testing (ICRT) and the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), CLEAR-HP will work to increase several key things:
Consumer awareness and trust in heat pump products and available subsidies – by providing information to consumers on the availability, quality and suitability of heat pump products for their homes.
Consumer investments in heat pump products – by communicating the general benefits of heat pumps versus traditional technologies to consumers to encourage new and future investments and interest.
Ease of installation and purchase – by launching collective purchase schemes based on ‘purchase and install’ packages which ensure the quality of the product offered and simplify the purchasing process for consumers, as well as offering consumers ongoing advice and support.
The simplicity and accessibility of regulatory frameworks and financing schemes – by analysing and identifying available financing opportunities for consumers and addressing gaps with national authorities to so make adopting heat pump products easier
The number of qualified and skilled installers of heat pumps and their availability to consumers at national level – by up-skilling installers of heat pumps in what consumers need to know and by exploring and developing partnerships with heat pump suppliers and installers at national and European level.
CLEAR-HP: thousands of consumers heat pump aware
CLEAR-HP’s goal is to have 43,000 consumers across seven countries ready to act and change their heating behaviour by 2026.
CLEAR-HP is projected to trigger €3.5m of new investments in renewables technologies, 2 GWh of primary energy savings, and reductions of 639 tCO2,-eq GHG emissions within the project duration alone.
Much of this will be driven by collective purchasing schemes, which bring together a critical mass of potential customers to negotiate better prices and conditions with suppliers. This approach builds on the experience and success of other projects under the CLEAR banner which have seen used collective purchasing to kickstart the market/ or kickstart take up of sustainable energy solutions like theCLEAR-X solar panel scheme.
The national consumer organizations involved in CLEAR-HP will apply their practical experience of negotiating with suppliers and supporting consumers from initial interest, full information, finance support and purchase to heat pumps.
“As well as helping consumers install heat pumps, the CLEAR-HP project will grow support infrastructure with things like communications plans and consumer advice training for installers. We will also feedback targeted advice to policy designers and investment schemes on what’s working well and what needs to change to keep uptake high.”
Luisa Crisigiovanni, Group Service Manager European Projects, Euroconsumers
As is the norm with group purchase schemes, the number of people making a final purchase and installation will be less than those who sign up, but the engagement and interest is predicted to lead to more purchases in the future.
CLEAR-HP will also explore the feasibility of the first Europe-wide collective purchase of heat pumps which, if successful, could set a precedent for all types of future EU collective purchase campaigns. This would overcome the challenge of availability and affordability of heat pumps in some EU Member States. This will be challenging to implement, but CLEAR-HP will work hard to learn how this game-changing scheme could work.
The CLEAR-HP consortium includes consumer organisations, product testers and the heat pump industry. Consumer organisations from Belgium (Testachats/Test Aankoop) Bulgaria, Italy (Altroconsumo), Portugal (Deco Proteste), Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain (OCU) led by BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation, have partnered with the International Consumer Research & Testing (ICRT) and with the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) to run the programme.
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