Do air source heat pumps have a PR problem?

New research from Spitfire Homes has found just 19 per cent of house hunters would be willing to pay more to have an air source heat pump in a new home, with 37 per cent preferring solar panels to generate renewable electricity.


Air source heat pumps, the sustainable alternative to traditional gas boilers, came out as the lowest priority for prospective buyers vs solar panels, smart heating systems, underfloor heating and car charging points, while one in six do not prioritise any sustainable features at all.


The study reveals a worrying lack of focus on air source heat pumps, despite the 2025 ban on gas boilers in new homes looming. In line with its Future Homes Standard, the UK Government is cracking down on energy efficiency requirements for new homes, with a ban on the installation of gas boilers effective from 2025.

Major housebuilder Redrow recently committed to installing air source heat pumps as standard in all of its future developments, following suit of a range of small and medium developers, with this expected to become the norm across the industry.


Air source heat pumps are four times more efficient than gas boilers, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and saving homeowners on energy bills. They work by transferring energy from the outside air to water, heating rooms via radiators or underfloor heating, while heating water stored in a cylinder for hot taps, showers and baths.


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Ben Leather, Managing Director at Spitfire Homes, said:


“With the new legislation on gas boilers being introduced in less than two years, it’s concerning that air source heat pumps are not yet on the radar or the wish lists of prospective buyers”.


“It’s clear that the misconceptions surrounding air source heat pumps, such as noise, cost and performance in cold temperatures, are slowing the adoption of this vital sustainable alternative. More needs to be done to educate house hunters of the benefits to encourage the switch before 2025.


“The recent announcement from Redrow, who will be rolling out air source heat pumps as standard, is good news for consumers and the environment, and generally, a welcome move from a major housebuilder likely to encourage others to follow suit. However, it’s not innovative nor beyond what should be expected of those responsible for delivering the UK’s future housing supply.

“For the most part, the real impetus around ESG in the industry has been driven by the SME housebuilders, but we still need a collective commitment to wholesale investment into sustainable solutions, so the sector is forward-doing, not just forward-thinking.”


The Housebuilders Association recently published its latest Watt A Save report, revealing that new-build home buyers are saving more than £500m each year in energy bills, as well as collectively reducing carbon emissions by over 500,000 tonnes.


With energy prices set to rise again in the Spring, the savings that new homes offer consumers will increase further, rising to over £3,100 a year on average.


Leather added:


“We found that younger homeowners and buyers are more turned off by unsustainable homes but there’s still work to be done to inform older-generations of the benefits of buying a new-build, none more so than the savings on energy bills. Modern properties are designed with energy performance in mind, including insulation and high-efficiency central heating, so consumers can expect to pay less for their heating bills – while also reducing their impact on the environment.


In the UK, gas prices alone rose by nearly 130 per cent in the 12 months to January 2023, a key driver of the soaring inflation rate. An air source heat pump is around 350 per cent more efficient and is the next step for eco heating systems in the UK, so it’s time we all got on board and committed to a greener future.”


For more information about air source heat pumps and how Spitfire is designing future-proofed homes, visit: