This report presents findings from a survey of over 2,000 respondents regarding their views on the future of low-carbon heating. Participants were asked about their awareness of, and support for different technologies, trust in institutional actors, and views on different policy options.

With the heating of homes and workspaces estimated to contribute a third of all UK carbon emissions, the decarbonization of domestic heating is a vital step on the pathway to net zero in the UK. As clean energy supply becomes increasingly available at scale, the transition to low-carbon heating (LCH) relies on significant changes to domestic infrastructure at demand side. With multiple LCH technologies currently entering the market, public choice will play an important role in the shape and success of the transition, but public awareness regarding LCH is limited, and public attitudes appear nuanced and poorly understood.

To investigate the landscape of public attitudes towards LCH options, we conducted a nationally representative online survey of the general public in Great Britain (N=2223), focusing on the three primary LCH technologies currently being considered in the UK – heat pumps, hydrogen heating, and district heating networks. A diverse set of variables were assessed including engagement and experience with heating systems, knowledge and support concerning LCH, environmental and energy security concerns, perceptions of trust and responsibility, and financial context. Central to the survey was an informed choice decision pathway element, where attitudes were further scrutinized through a number of hypothetical situations.

Research findings

The survey found the majority of the respondents had at least some knowledge of LCH technologies, but did not appear fully informed about the extent to which the heating and cooling of buildings currently contributes to national carbon emissions.

Despite this, when provided with information about LCH technologies, respondents held clearly favourable attitudes towards all LCH technologies, and were supportive of policies such as the mandatory inclusion of LCH in new homes. In particular, heat pumps emerged as the technology with the strongest support and highest level of knowledge.

However, public willingness to adopt decarbonised heating technologies appeared to be subject to belief bias, with initial attitudes resistant to change and apparently contingent on established perceptions and attitudes. When examining these driving factors leveraging public willingness, concerns regarding energy security and pro-environmental attitudes were prominent. Strikingly, knowing just one other individual who used a LCH technology was associated with increased willingness to adopt all LCH technologies.

Respondents largely viewed the government and energy companies as being responsible for paying for the transition to LCH, however expressed low trust in government and energy sector actors to provide information or make decisions concerning LCH. In contrast, respondents expressed greatest trust for themselves, their family and friends, and experts.


Overall, public attitudes towards the transition to low-carbon domestic heating are mixed, with clear and widespread support accompanied by ambiguity and distrust. The briefing makes the following recommendations:

  • The public should be considered clearly supportive of LCH technologies and policies that facilitate the national transition to LCH.
  • Knowledge is present but limited. Greater effort on the part of all stakeholders involved is warranted to further raise awareness of LCH and its benefits.
  • National energy security concerns and pro-environmental attitudes are important driving factors. This suggests a communication strategy focused on increasing the salience of these issues may be effective at leveraging support of LCH.
  • A successful transition must be driven by strong financial support. The public strongly supported government subsidies, and believed that low-income households in particular should receive financial support.
  • A foundation of trust will facilitate public engagement. It will also be important to capitalize on leveraging support through actors who are already perceived as trustworthy.
  • The public expect clear involvement from the government. The government should prioritize balancing a bottom-up policy of consumer choice with strong top-down involvement and financial support.

Register to attend the associated webinar, on Thursday 18 January, 2-3pm here.