Danish homeowners highly satisfied with heat pumps

By Sabine Lobnig, Sep 14, 2010, 15:41 4 minute reading

98% of Danish homeowners who have installed a heat pump were satisfied with their heat pump equipment, their installation and the heating cost savings they realised, according to a report by the Danish Energy Agency on the Danish experience with heat pumps and the barriers to a wider uptake of the technology in the country.

Today about 20,000 to 25,000 air source or ground source heat pumps are installed in Danish houses. There still remains considerable potential for heat pump technology in the country, if one considers that there are about 300,000 oil boilers and 400,000 natural gas boilers in the Danish housing stock. To explore the experience of homeowners with heat pumps and the barriers to a wider deployment of the technology the Danish Energy Agency conducted a quantitative survey among 401 homeowners that have installed a heat pump, as well as 30 qualitative telephone interviews.

Growing popularity of heat pumps

Results of the survey among homeowners who have installed a heat pump revealed that no less than 98% of respondents were satisfied with their heat pumps, the installation of the equipment, and not least the savings they have realised. Moreover, 90% of homeowners reported that their heat pumps were very simple to operate.

Experience with heat pumps

The following experiences by people that have installed a heat pump in their home have been reported:
  • The installation was done smoothly: Virtually all homeowners in the qualitative experience analysis found that the installation was quite straightforward.
  • Low heating cost: 35% of householders reported heating costs of less than 12,000 Danish Krone (about EUR 1,600) per year. 34% respond that they have a cost for a heat of between 12,000 and 20,000 kroner per year (between EUR 1,600 and 2,600).
  • Great energy cost savings: The quantitative analysis reveals that 27% of homeowners report that they have saved over 10,000 kroner (about EUR 1,300) a year on heating bills. Most of these have saved between 10,000-15,000 kroner annually. One very positive result is that 64% expressed that they have largely exceeded what they had expected and that 14% believe that they saved what they expected. Only 2% reported that the heat pump did not live up to expectations in terms of savings on heating bills.
This picture is supported by qualitative interviews results, according to which two out of three homeowners reported that the heat pump had met or surpassed their expectations regarding savings on heating bills. A third of homeowners had reduced their heating costs by over 50% after the switch from oil or gas boiler to a heat pump. And almost as many had saved between 25% and 50%. The remaining third, which has saved less than 10%, partly encompassed homeowners, where the plant had not been sized correctly, but also homeowners who have switched from an older heat pump or from woodfuel to the pump.
  • The systems are highly reliable: According to the quantitative analysis, 87% of householders reported that the installation is as easy in everyday life as they had expected, while 84% said they had never experienced problems or had had very few problems associated with operating the plant or when commissioning the plant. In the qualitative analysis, the majority of householders said that the heat pump ran optimally from day one and that there was no need for modifications or replacements of parts. A third had experienced however minor startup problems, primarily technical adjustments, technical failures and installation mistakes.
  • No problems with keeping warm: 81% of householders in the quantitative analysis says that they did not have trouble keeping warm in winter, and only 6% say they have experienced problems exactly this (especially cold) winter. None of householders in the qualitative experience of interviews had real problems with keeping the desired heat.
  • Great satisfaction with units: The quantitative analysis shows that 88% of the interviewed homeowners were satisfied with their heat pump units and that 10% were somewhat satisfied. Essential for satisfaction is heating cost, heat savings and whether the facility has lived up to expectations for savings and service. The qualitative analysis also indicated that the vast majority of interviewed householders were highly satisfied or satisfied with the installation as a whole.

Remaining barriers to heat pump deployment

30 homeowners that did not opt for a heat pump unit were surveyed. The reported primary factors preventing homeowners from opting for a heat pump included:
  • Initial investment cost: Barrier analysis shows that almost half of homeowners are setting the heat pump price as the decisive argument for not selecting a heat pump solution. Payback time is too long, either because the house is already well insulated and heat consumption is thus low, or because the house needs to be insulated as well as a new central heating system, hence the investment cost thus becomes very high.
  • Skepticism with regards to heating cost savings is the reason why the second half of homeowners have opted out of heat pumps.They doubt whether they can achieve a sensible heat economy and whether the promised savings will last. They are uncertain about the efficiencies and worried about consuming too much electricity. Most of them are also worried about whether they will be able to heat the house sufficiently. Both quantitative and qualitative analysis of experience shows that this fear is completely unfounded. 


By Sabine Lobnig

Sep 14, 2010, 15:41

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