Growing demand leads to crisis: ‘heat pump cowboys’ grab ignorant consumers for big money

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Due to long waiting times and shortages of installers, bunglers are getting more and more space on the heat pump market, according to a tour of BNR. Consumers are extorted for hundreds of euros or more by ‘heat pump cowboys’

This is evident from a survey conducted by BNR among a dozen installers and other experts. ‘These people take hundreds of euros from the ignorant consumer, who has no knowledge of heat sources,’ says Loek Pander of the Heat Pump Factory.

NOOTDORP – A central heating boiler and a hybrid heat pump during a visit by minister Robbert Dijkgraaf and Dennis Wiersma to technical company Schouten Techniekgroep. (ANP / REMKO DE WAAL)

Consumers’ relative unfamiliarity with the heat pump makes them an easy target, says Pander. Three out of ten homeowners do not even know what a heat pump is, according to a previous survey of 1,028 homeowners by Milieu Centraal.

‘Heat pump cowboys’ work in different ways. Some offer advice for hundreds of euros, such as an inventory or transmission calculation, which is subsequently ignored. ‘I regularly attend a trade fair. Eighty percent of those interested are such a self-proclaimed water pump consultant,’ says Pander.

Growing demand leads to problems

The growing demand for their services is driven by government policy. From 2026 it is mandatory to switch to a hybrid heat pump installation when the central heating boiler needs to be replaced. ‘That is a big leap,’ says Taco van Hoek, director of the Economic Institute for the Construction Industry (EIB). ‘That means that 300,000 central heating boilers have to be replaced in one year. This can have unpleasant consequences for the consumer. However, the installation sector is putting on blinders, while it goes without saying that such a big leap will result in a scarcity of installers and higher rates.’

‘Cowboy installers’ Superfluous advice is just one of the questionable revenue models in the growth market. There are also bunglers among installers. For example, Anita Harte-Deutekom consultant geothermal energy installation company Warmtebelang often sees that an air source heat pump is offered for too much money with yield figures that are not correct. Customers then think they are saving, but a year later they turn out to be incurring extra costs.

‘Nowadays the heat source companies are springing up like mushrooms and everyone has suddenly been working in the profession for twenty years,’ says Harte-Deutekom. ‘We even know that some companies have not installed more than a handful of heat pumps in their careers.’

‘Ignorance plays a role’

According to Harte-Deutekom, many plumbers do the heat pump work on the side and they lack the necessary certifications. This is especially a problem when installing technically complex ground source heat pumps. ‚ÄúThere are huge sums involved. For example, the customer is helped by someone who cannot provide the right knowledge and service and who cannot subsequently realize a guarantee, with all the misery that entails.’

Van Hoek of the EIB suspects that in many cases ignorance plays a role. The EIB has no figures, but the director knows the problem first hand. ‘I once made an inventory with an installer to see whether a hybrid boiler is an option for my house, but he found it difficult,’ says Van Hoek. ‘It is quite possible that various parties in this market simply do not know what they are doing.’

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