This evidence review examines Scottish consumers’ awareness of and attitudes towards low-carbon heating technologies and the consumer drivers and barriers to their take-up.

Emissions from buildings account for around 20% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions; lowering them will be essential for Scotland to achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2045 and is likely to require changes to the heating and hot water systems of nearly all homes and non-domestic buildings.

While growing, the proportion of non-electrical heat demand met by renewable heat sources in Scotland is low, reaching 6.3% in 2018. Deployment of low-carbon and renewable heating needs to increase significantly to achieve our climate goals.

Key findings

  • Broad concern about climate change is not driving widespread uptake of low-carbon heat.
  • Raising awareness of low-carbon systems may not be enough to drive uptake.
  • People can be put off switching to low-carbon heating systems.
  • There are two main factors that put people off low-carbon heating systems: the expected cost and uncertainty about performance.
  • The minority who have installed low-carbon heating tend to be motivated by environmental benefits.
  • Financial support persuades some to adopt low-carbon heat but is not key for all and is not enough to drive mass uptake alone.
  • The heating trade is an important source of information about heating systems.


  • Reduce the inconvenience and uncertainty of switching to low-carbon heat.
  • Help consumers discover what low-carbon heating options are suitable for them.
  • Proactively introduce the idea of low-carbon heating options.
  • Give consumers confidence they will be able to get the comfort they want for a predictable price.
  • Start with homes that are already suited to low-carbon heating systems, because they will need less work.
  • Encourage less suitable households to prepare their home for low-carbon heating.
  • Simplify the application process for financial support.