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Hitting the Target: meeting the UK’s heat pump targets


Centre for Net Zero

heat pumps low carbon technologies


Homes currently account for 16% of overall greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 35% of total energy consumption in the UK. 75% of total energy demand in UK housing stock presently comes from heating with natural gas. This is the most common heating fuel in domestic buildings. There are currently about 22 million households in the UK with gas boilers, with 1.7 million units sold in 2019 overall. Many are pointing to the potential of the heat pump as a crucial technology that can help us rapidly decarbonise heating.

Policy environment 

The UK government is supportive of heat pump adoption. In its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, it stated an ambition to install 600,000 per year by 2028. However, this sits in contrast to the UK Climate Change Committee’s assessment. To reach net zero by 2050, the installation target the UK should instead be reaching is 900,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, including new builds.

Presently, fewer than 30,000 heat pumps are being installed annually. In 2022, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee stated that ‘it is vital that the government meets its target or there will be a great risk that the UK will fall off course in delivering net zero by 2050’.


This piece of research seeks to forecast whether within existing policy parameters, the UK will reach its heat pump target. Significantly, it also highlights the most sensitive intervention points to accelerate uptake in the next decade.

The key interventions modelled in this report alongside variables including levels of consumer awareness, feasibility of heat pumps for different building types and technology cost changes are:

  • The Boiler Upgrade Scheme already announced by the government. This is a £5,000 – £6,000 grant to support the installation of heat pumps capped at £450 million, from April 2022-2025.
  • The redistribution of policy costs across gas and electricity, presently a subject of exploration by the Government.
  • A boiler ban commencing on 1st January 2035. After that, households cannot purchase new fossil fuel boilers, but may repair and continue to use their existing one.

To read the full report, click ‘read online’ in the right-hand side box. To find out more about ongoing research into heat pumps, click here.