Heating and cooling

01 Feb 22

Heat pumps perform successfully across Europe – New consumer analysis

Heat pumps and solar thermal systems are keeping users all across Europe well in their comfort zones –  physically, financially, and environmentally. The latest Coolproducts analysis reveals that 88% of European users are satisfied with the switch to renewable heating.

There is life beyond gas boilers, and it’s a cosy one according to the majority of renewable heating users in Europe.

Findings of the latest and largest comfort survey of renewable heating users in Europe, commissioned by Coolproducts, show that clean heating alternatives to fossil fuel boilers are working satisfactorily in all European countries, houses and climates.

When we talk about renewable heating, we speak of heat pumps and solar thermal heating, which are among the best technologies readily available for heating decarbonisation, with rising popularity in the European market in recent years. To carry out this research, 670 heat pump users answered a survey and 40 were interviewed across 22 countries: 20 EU member states as well as Norway and UK.

Read the factsheet and the full report here

Regardless of weather conditions, house type and motivations, the large majority of respondents in this study (88%) are satisfied with their switch to heat pumps, both for their wallets and their home life. In fact, 81% have seen the average level of comfort at home improve by replacing fossil fuel heaters with renewable-based heating systems.

Across the board, the conclusion was that heat pumps can deliver the same, if not more, comfort than gas/oil boilers, as long as the house is properly insulated and the heating systems are adapted. Moreover, the heat pumps even cool down the homes for the hot summers.

While many respondents were environmentally motivated in their switch to heat pumps and break away from fossil fuel/gas boilers (especially in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK), many users also made the switch to reduce their energy bills, and to reduce the hassle with traditional heating (e.g. getting rid of the oil or biomass supply). 

Switching to heat pumps has resulted in relatively similar operating costs for heating in most regions, including in cold climates. 64% of respondents found that the switch to heat pump has been economical, and even in cases of slightly higher running costs, the impact of prices on comfort and satisfaction was low.

Governments in the hot seat

The European Commission estimates that the EU should reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 60% to reach the EU’s 2030 climate target.

Renewable heating, together with building renovation and energy efficiency measures, are the best-positioned climate solution to deliver these goals on time. At the EU level, a standard family switching from a gas boiler to a heat pump or to solar thermal heating can save more than 60% of the annual CO2 emissions, according to Coolproducts findings.

With gas prices more than quadrupled since last year, switching off the gas boilers for renewable heating becomes an urgent measure for any government interested in breaking gas dependency and solving energy poverty. Over 40% of the gas the EU imports is used for heating buildings, so when we talk about reducing our reliance on gas, its geopolitical factors and volatile prices, we have to start with looking at heat pumps and solar thermal heating.

Comfortable, decent running costs and climate-compatible, renewable heating is holding all the keys to play a central role in the transition towards climate-neutral buildings, and a climate-neutral Europe. However, the biggest barrier remains the upfront cost, lacking incentives and the unfair level of taxation on electricity that some member states apply, making running on renewables often a more expensive option than using fossil fuels. In fact, a 2021 study reveals that switching to renewable heating is only affordable in 8 EU countries.

Major leaps in policies are needed urgently to keep Europe on track with its environmental and geopolitical strategies, starting with the humble but powerful heat pumps. It’s time to turn up the heat to policymakers and demand a green energy transition for all.