Domestic heat pumps in the UK: user behaviour, satisfaction and performance

Caird, Sally; Roy, Robin and Potter, Stephen (2012). Domestic heat pumps in the UK: user behaviour, satisfaction and performance. Energy Efficiency, 5(3) pp. 283–301.




Consumer adoption of microgeneration technologies is part of the UK strategy to reduce carbon emissions from buildings. Domestic heat pumps are viewed as a potentially important carbon saving technology, given the ongoing decarbonisation of the electricity supply system. To address the lack of independent evaluation of heat pump performance, the Energy Saving Trust undertook the UK’s first large-scale heat pump field trial, which monitored 83 systems in real installations. As part of the trial, the Open University studied the consumers’ experience of using a domestic heat pump. An in-depth user survey investigated the characteristics, behaviour, and satisfactions of private householders and social housing residents using ground source and air source heat pumps for space and/or water heating, and examined the influence of user-related factors on measured heat pump system efficiency. The surveys found that most users were satisfied with the reliability, heating, hot water, warmth and comfort provided by their system. Analysis of user characteristics showed that higher system efficiencies were associated with greater user understanding of their heat pump system, and more continuous heat pump operation, although larger samples are needed for robust statistical confirmation. The analysis also found that the more efficient systems in the sample were more frequently located in the private dwellings than at the social housing sites and this difference was significant. This is explained by the interaction between differences in the systems, dwellings and users at the private and social housing sites. The implications for heat pump research, practice and policy are discussed.

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