A guide to heat pump deployment

Olivia Smalley, head of policy and communications at the Heat Pump Association, reflects on the pivotal role that local government and officials will play in the transition to low-carbon heating such as heat pumps.

Heat pumps are at the forefront of the transition to net zero, offering an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional heating systems such as gas, oil or LPG boilers. This article provides an overview of the current UK government policy to support heat pump deployment, available funding, the benefits of heat pumps, and a forward-looking perspective on the role heat pumps will play in the future.

How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump is a system for heating any building. It works by extracting ambient heat from outside to heat the inside of the property. Here is a quick overview of how they work.

Firstly, heat energy is extracted from the air, the ground or water. Even in cold weather, there is still warmth stored in the air or ground outside your home. This heat energy then passes over a ‘heat exchanger,’ known as an evaporator, inside the heat pump to warm up a refrigerant liquid. As it warms up, the refrigerant liquid evaporates and turns into a gas.

The refrigerant gas then moves into a compressor which increases the pressure of the gas and makes the temperature rise.
This hot refrigerant then passes over another heat exchanger, known as the condenser, and returns to a liquid. In doing so, it transfers its heat energy to warm up water used in your radiators and hot water tank.
The pressure of the refrigerant liquid then reduces, and it passes back to the evaporator to restart the process.
Of course, the above description is simplified. If you want to learn more about the mechanics, read our homeowner guide.

Current UK government policy

The UK Government has recognised the critical role that heat pumps will play in achieving our ambitious climate targets, including reaching our legal target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In alignment with the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the government has pledged to significantly increase the adoption of heat pumps. This commitment is further underscored by the Heat and Buildings Strategy, which outlines plans to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. The strategy emphasises the need for a gradual phase-out of gas boilers, making heat pumps a vital component of the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.

Current funding available

To support the deployment of heat pumps, the UK Government has introduced several funding mechanisms. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), launched in April 2022, offers grants of up to £7,500 to homeowners in England and Wales to help cover the cost of installing air source and ground source heat pumps. This scheme is a critical step in making heat pump technology more accessible and affordable to a broader segment of the population.
Moreover, other schemes are available such as the Home Upgrade Grant and Local Authority E
Delivery scheme which fund energy efficiency measures in homes of low income, off-grid and EPC below D. Other schemes include the Energy Company Obligation and the Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme. The Local Authority Delivery scheme has funded 3,074 heat pump installations since the start of the scheme.
The Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme is a scheme open to public sector bodies in England, including central government departments and non-departmental public bodies, the NHS, schools, emergency services, further education, and local authorities. To reduce emissions from the public sector by 75 per cent by 2037 (from the 2017 baseline), a large amount of funding, including £1.4 billion for Phase 3 of the scheme (2022-2025) has been rolled out, with Phase 3c now open. Phase 3b of the scheme saw 560 applications submitted with a combined value of over £1.48 billion. 231 projects were awarded funding, to be delivered by 183 public sector organisations.

Benefits of heat pumps

Heat pumps offer numerous benefits that align with both environmental goals and economic priorities. Firstly, they are remarkably energy efficient, using a small amount of electricity to transfer heat from the air, ground, or water into buildings. As a low carbon solution, heat pumps can be more than three times more efficient than fossil fuel boilers and switching to heat pumps in the UK can reduce heating emissions by up to 75 per cent.
Secondly, feedback from a NESTA survey, suggests that compared to their previous heating system, 73 per cent of heat pump owners are satisfied or more satisfied with their newly installed heat pumps. Conversely, a minimal percentage, only 1 per cent, experienced a decline in comfort. Other benefits included reducing total energy usage and significantly reducing carbon emissions.

Looking forward

The journey towards widespread heat pump adoption is not without its challenges. These include the upfront cost of installation, addressing the gap between electricity and gas prices, the need for public awareness and education, and ensuring that the electricity grid can support increased demand. However, with the right policies, incentives, and support mechanisms in place, these challenges can be overcome.
Looking forward, local governments and national officials must continue to support the transition to heat pumps through robust policy measures, targeted funding, and public engagement initiatives. This includes investing in training programmes to build a skilled local workforce capable of installing and maintaining heat pump systems and updating building regulations to ensure new constructions are heat pump ready. As well as enforcing the Future Homes Standards from 2025, this new standard will rule out the installation of gas boilers and hydrogen boilers in new homes, emphasising heat pumps as the primary method for heating.


The transition to sustainable heating solutions, with electrification at its core, is an essential component of the UK’s strategy to combat climate change and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Through collaborative efforts between the government, industry, and consumers, we can overcome the barriers to heat pump adoption and realise the benefits they offer.

Local government and national officials have a pivotal role to play in this transition. By prioritising place-based policies and funding that support heat pump deployment, we can ensure a smoother transition.

The Heat Pump Association and its members are committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps across the UK.



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