UK householders have a strong appetite for investing in more sustainable forms of home heating that will reduce energy bills and be better for the environment, according to a nationwide survey announced today by leading trade specialist Wolseley. 

But the survey also found that significant numbers of householders believe sustainable heating options are inaccessible on cost grounds, and people do not understand enough about those options or Government subsidies designed to assist with purchasing and installation costs, highlighting major gaps in the sustainable heating transition.

Responses from more than 1,000 homeowners and tenants across the UK found a strong level of interest in investing in more sustainable forms of heating, despite cost of living pressures:

  • More people in Britain (34%) intend to spend their money changing their heating system over holidays or other experiences (31%) this year
  • Almost half (48%) believe it is important for their energy source to be environmentally friendly, while 52% will be considering the environment when they next renew their heating system and 72% of people saying they would seek a heat pump, hydrogen or other non-gas/oil boiler to deliver cheaper long-term energy costs

However, the survey also identified challenges that need to be overcome to make sustainable forms of heating more accessible: 

  • 55% cite high expense as the main barrier to installing more sustainable forms of home heating
  • 60% said they had a lack of knowledge on the issue, with 36% wanting to wait until Government funding/subsidies become clearer before switching to more sustainable heat sources, and 24% not understanding the benefits/advantages at all
  • Only 14% of people trust the Government to provide clear and fair advice about their future heating options

The extent to which homeowners depend upon specialist heating engineers and trade merchants to advise them on their heating options and system costs was also clear (74%). Across the UK, 23% of people had already discussed options for a ground source or air source heat pump or a hydrogen/hybrid boiler as a more sustainable heating alternative, rising to 28% in Scotland but with the south coast region seeing a far lower figure of 10%. 

The role played by installers in enabling the sustainable energy transition is also crucial, with many specialists being in their 50s and 60s, and with a need to both retrain experienced tradespeople in heat pumps, hybrid boilers and other technologies while supporting newer installers to gain those skills too. 

“Transforming the way that UK homes are heated to reduce environmental impact will take time. There are big hurdles to overcome around cost and reskilling of existing heating engineers. Specialist merchants, like Wolseley, will be critical in providing the support, training and advice needed to increase the number of installers able to provide these new technologies.” said Simon Oakland, CEO, Wolseley Group. 

“It is clear that the Government and the home heating sector need to be working together more closely to accelerate this transition by making the available grants and subsidies clearer, and the options more understandable. The appetite for more sustainable home heating is clearly there across the country,” he said.