How can installers transition from gas boilers to heat pumps?

In a summary of a recent webinar hosted as part of Net Zero Festival, Installer asks Phil Hurley, Chair of the Heat Pump Association, how installers can transition from gas boilers to heat pumps:

1. For installers who have been in the trade for a number of years, what initial steps do they need to take to become a heat pump installer?

If they are already a gas-safe registered installer, they probably have at least an NVQ2 in plumbing and heating. As a first step, we would recommend attending a Low Temperature and Heating Course. This will provide the installer with the essential skills for efficient heating, regardless of the technology type. It also covers the skills needed to do full room-by-room heat loss calculations and the accurate sizing of piping and hot water cylinders.

2. What actions have the HPA taken to upskill installers?

We launched a new training course last year, which was described by the Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, as a critical step in the endeavour to prepare installers for the mass rollout of heat pumps. We estimate that over 33,000 installers need to be trained between now and 2028 to meet the Government’s 600,000 installation target, but there are fortunately lots of transferable skills. The new HPA course taps into this opportunity by directly targeting existing installers looking to upskill. The course is being delivered initially through members of the HPA at their own training facilities across the country. The Government hasn’t introduced any monetary support to support installers at the moment but the HPA is advocating for a voucher scheme to support ‘early adopters’. The membership has the capacity to train over 40,000 installers per year at these centres if there is the demand.

3. Can installers feel confident that demand for heat pumps will grow?

Gas boilers aren’t going to disappear overnight but what installers will see over time is evidence that homeowners want to be more sustainable. The appetite for alternative heating options is only going to rise in the context of rising energy prices. Being able to offer heat pumps is a great benefit to installers, and it’s important that they can talk to households and answer questions about the technology so that they are aware of all the options available to them. The Government’s 600,000 target is seen as a minimum of the heat pump deployment needed, so it seems set that heat pumps will represent a high proportion of the total heating market going ahead.

4. Do you believe demand will grow following the launch of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in April?

I am confident that the appetite for heat pumps will be demonstrated and hopeful that the scheme will be administered much more successfully than the Green Homes Grant scheme was back in 2020. Looking back at other support for heat pumps, the Renewable Heat Incentive was successful overall – but it wasn’t an attractive proposition for homeowners without the upfront cash to install a heat pump. BUS changes that by offering £5,000 for an air source heat pump, or £6,000 for a ground source heat pump.

5. What would your advice be for installers?

I would say there is a real opportunity to upskill, particularly if you are working in rural areas with oil and gas. The Government has already set a date for phasing out oil boilers in homes from 2026 so we can expect to see real change in off-grid homes quite quickly, and heat pumps are potentially an easier sell in those properties. We will also see heat pumps being rolled out in new builds, with the Future Homes Standard due to come into play from 2025. The Government has committed to building 300,000 homes by 2025. Installing heat pumps in new build homes will therefore take us nearly halfway to meeting the Government’s installation target by 2028.

Click the link below to watch the full Q&A on demand:

How can installers transition from boilers to heat pumps? – Crowdcast

Are you an installer looking for help upskilling in heat pumps? Email your questions directly to the HPA.

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