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Uncovering the Gender Bias: The Overlooked Barrier to Heat Pump Deployment

What’s the biggest secret barrier to heat pump deployment? Women.

And do you know why? Men.

Talking about gender is fraught with difficulty, but I’m on a long train trip to Sheffield so I’m going to give it a go.

I’ve been selling heat pumps to homeowners for 10 years and there is a pattern. Husband loves a project. Does his research on heat pumps, gets us in to quote. His enthusiasm is undeniable, but we’re talking to him and I sense an inability to totally commit to the install. And then it comes out “my wife’s not very sure about the whole idea”.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the way. Often the lady of the house gets in touch and handles the whole sale, but the pattern above is definitely more common.

Anyway, if I’m lucky, she’s home and I talk to her directly. If I’m unlucky I have to keep talking to the middleman and guess what her concerns are. 

Scientific fact: women feel the cold more than men.

This has two implications, firstly and obviously, women are more worried about being cold than the men in the house. All our talk of “low temperature” heating and cool radiators is concerning if you’re not very involved in the project. 

Secondly, they are worried about loss of control by moving from a heating system they know to one they don’t. To make it worse, this is a new heating system bought by a male partner who they don’t necessarily trust to understand their need for thermal comfort.

The other concern I hear regularly is about getting washing dry on radiators. Since women sadly still in the 21st century bear disproportionately greater responsibility for household tasks such as laundry, these are more likely to be female concerns.

So far so bad for the women. We are the secret barrier to heat pump deployment. 

But we can’t stop there. We have to ask “why?” And sorry men, but the buck stops with you. 

Since I can literally hear the hackles rising and the thumbs poised to respond in the comments, let me explain:

The heating industry is primarily made up of men. There are loads of them out there selling heat pumps and I’ve not ever heard a single one of them mention any of the issues I’ve raised above or seek to do anything about them.

In fact the opposite “Got to keep the missus warm” is a running joke in the industry that often belittles women rather than thinking about how best to help them.

So, a short end to a long piece. Three things you could do today to sell more heat pumps:

1. Stop laughing at the fact that women feel the cold more than you do and start thinking how you can address their needs in your sales pitch. 

2. Employ more women - like we are through this training scheme. (See our Youtube video below).


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