2023 saw a nearly 20% year-on-year jump in home heat pump installations by accredited technicians, record keepers at the Microgeneration Certification Scheme Foundation (MCS) have confirmed.    The rise was buoyed by an increase in the government Boiler Upgrade subsidy, designed to speed homes stripping out carbon-emitting heat sources.

But despite the upward trend, the MCS record keepers warn that the UK is still falling far short when it comes to heat pumps. The rate of installations will need to accelerate more than tenfold by 2028 to meet the government’s target of 600,000 fittings a year by 2028.

A record 30,000 air and heat source devices were fitted in 2023, the MCS reports, as householders reached for renewable solutions to combat energy’s continuing cost crisis.

The authority also logged nearly 190,000 households and businesses opting to install solar panels, overwhelmingly producing electricity.  This is the highest number since cuts to the Feed-in Tariff subsidy in 2011.

The year-end total of 220,000 new devices across both technologies was the highest for more than a decade, when now withdrawn subsidies dominated the market.

Heat pumps, working on energy exchange principles seen in fridges, saw the greatest breakthrough,

Air-source devices registered a 25% increase in MCS certifications last year, contributing to a 19% increase for all pump types.

The total number of certified heat pumps installed across the UK has now surpassed 200,000.   That’s still far short of government timelines for the low carbon technology, unveiled in the Heat and Buildings Strategy in October 2021.

The MCS Foundation said that heat pump uptake was being driven by demand for carbon-free heating, supported by government grants. The Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant was increased in October last year from £5,000 for an air-source heat pump to £7,500, with applications for the grant up by 50% following the introduction of the higher rate.

The government is currently consulting on plans to require new homes completed from January 2025 to have a heat pump fitted, or be connected to a low-carbon heat network. New rules are also coming into force this year that will require boiler manufacturers to sell a proportionate amount of heat pumps relative to their boiler sales, under the Clean Heat Market Mechanism.

But the MCS Foundation warned that despite the upward trend, the UK is still falling short when it comes to heat pumps. The rate of installations will need to accelerate more than tenfold within the next four years to meet the Government target of 600,000 a year by 2028.

MCS spokesperson David Cowdrey said: “It is very encouraging to see the growth in all renewable energy, and particularly heat pumps. More households than ever are opting for these carbon-free and highly efficient heating systems that are zero emissions at point of use.

“But while we can expect a continued upward trend in heat pump installations, thanks to the introduction of higher grants, we will still need additional policies to achieve the exponential growth that is required now. Such policies should include reducing electricity costs to encourage heat pump uptake while tackling fuel poverty. This could be achieved by moving social and environmental tariffs from electricity bills into general taxation, and would make running heat pumps substantially cheaper than a gas boiler.”

Heat Pump Association chief executive Charlotte Lee commented: ‘It is great to see a 25% increase in MCS certified heat pump installations in 2023 compared to the previous year, demonstrating an increasing interest from consumers to switch to lower carbon heating systems.

“With the advent of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism and the Future Homes Standard”, Lee went on, “we expect this number to continue to rise in 2024 and beyond and the supply chain is gearing up to deliver. With consumer demand for heat pumps rising, we encourage all heating engineers to look ahead and invest in heat pump installation training to support the anticipated deployment and to future proof their business.’


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