Skip to main content

How to take action if you have a poorly performing heat pump


Jo Alsop

Heating Hero

The Heating Hub

Jo guides you on the action you can take against your installer if your heat pump is not working properly or is not as described in their documentation to you.


If you feel you have been mis-sold a heat pump or it's not performing as predicted, you can take action...

In our blog How to avoid a bad heat pump installation, we cover all of the consumer protection measures in place to help you make a sound purchase. In this blog we guide you on how to raise a complaint against your installer if the system is not working properly or is not as described in their documentation to you. We also provide guidance if your installer has gone into administration before, during or after the works and when you are entitled to ask for a refund if you have changed your mind.


  1. Why are we getting sub-standard installations?
  2. How am I protected?
  3. 5 steps to rectifying a substandard installation
  4. What if I haven’t used an MCS certified installer?
  5. Help if your installer has gone into administration
  6. Refunds for cancelled contracts

1) Why are we getting substandard installations

A mixture of low technical standards, unfamiliarity with the technology and a rapidly expanding market has led to many consumers having a substandard heat pump installation. Common problems are: the heat pump is undersized (to save money) or oversized (in the hope it will overcome any system shortfall), a poor match for the home or not fitted correctly. All of this will add up to very expensive energy bills - particularly as electricity prices are now an eye-watering 25p per kWh - and operational problems.

2) How am I protected?

Given the cost of installation, commonly £8-20k, and with no fuel savings over mains gas, you have taken a considerable risk in converting to this technology over an equivalent gas boiler installation at cost of £1,500 - £4,000. Fortunately, there are strong consumer protection measures in place to help you rectify any problems and avoid financial loss, but only if you have used certified companies.

Your installer must be MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified for you to take advantage of the free help available through MCS and the consumer protection codes. The consumer code administrators have strong powers to force the installer to rectify or even refund the money if the installation was completely unsuitable. They will also take on the matter for you at no cost.

You are also protected under the Consumer Credit Act against mis-selling if you have used a credit card to pay for some or all of the works or taken out finance to pay for the installation. Your bank or finance provider will take on your complaint.

It is often the case however that the original installer is not capable of rectifying the installation because they lacked the technical expertise to get it right first time around; we guide you here too. We do offer bespoke help if you are experiencing problems that you cannot resolve with your installer, please Contact Us for assistance.

3) Five steps to rectifying a substandard installation

Step 1 - Is your installer MCS certified?

MCS are like Gas Safe, but unlike Gas Safe it is not mandatory for renewable installers to be MCS certified. To claim the government grants for renewable energy systems however, as most households have done, you must have used an MCS certified installer. As part of their certification, MCS installers are required to be a member of a Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved consumer code – either RECC or HIES – and be registered with a Certification Body - NICEIC, NAPIT, HETAS, OFTEC, ELECSA or APHC. Certification Bodies uphold industry standards and installers can self-certify their work for building control purposes.

Providing your installer holds an MCS certification, is registered with one of the Certification Bodies and a member of one of the consumer codes, you have access to free and effective help if things go wrong. Note that the MCS Installer is directly responsible for the conduct of third-party sales agents and for any subcontractors they have used to carry out your works. They cannot tell you to take up installation defects with the subcontractor for example. If it transpires your installer is not MCS certified, all it not lost, see Section 4 below.

MCS and ‘Umbrella Schemes’

There are two types of installer: 1) installers that are MCS certified in their own right and 2) installers that work under an MCS certified umbrella scheme.

The requirements of MCS can be onerous for small businesses and many local installers chose to work with an umbrella scheme to avoid the administrational requirements of MCS registration. If you have used a local installer who has worked under their umbrella company the umbrella company assumes full contractual responsibility for your job. This includes the workmanship of the installer and even negligence of the local installer. You will need to check your contract documents to see if your installer used an umbrella company, but this should have been made clear prior to signing the contract.

Step 2 – Writing to the installer

Under the consumer code (either RECC or HIES) you must notify the MCS certified installer in writing and the installer has fixed time limits to respond. This is 24 hours if you are without heating and hot water and two weeks for non-urgent matters. It is helpful to highlight the problem you are experiencing, for example very high energy bills, and try to show where your experience falls short of the predicted performance figures given to you by the MCS certified installer before you signed the contract. It is useful to state here that installers are not allowed to overstate performance and they cannot tell you that you will save money over a mains gas system.

You must give the MCS installer the opportunity to put right any faults within the timeframes stated in the consumer code. If they do not respond or resolve the matter to a satisfactory standard you can refer your complaint to their consumer code and/or their Certification Body.

Step 3 – Referring the complaint

RECC/HIES and the Certification Bodies all have their own complaints procedures and it is confusing to know who to turn to first.

If the complaint is regarding a technical problem with the installation you must refer the matter to the MCS Installer’s Certification Body (NICEIC, NAPIT, HETAS, OFTEC, ELECSA or APHC). You should have received a certificate from the Certification Body sometime after the completion of the works to confirm the installation is compliant with building control regulations.

The Certification Body must inspect the installation and provide a report into whether the installation meets the MCS Installer standards. In the event the installation falls short, the Certification Body will require the MCS Installer to rectify any technical faults that breach building regulations or industry standards. NB you can also choose to refer the matter to RECC or HIES and they will refer the complaint to the Certification Body. The consumer code administrators seek to provide a 'one-stop-shop' for consumers.

Design faults that lead to the system costing more to run than predicted because pre-sales claims were inaccurate/exaggerated, or where a heat pump installation was completely inappropriate, are breaches of the consumer code and will be dealt with directly by RECC or HIES. The consumer code administrators will work closely with the Certification Body(NICEIC, NAPIT, HETAS, OFTEC, ELECSA or APHC) who will arrange to inspect the installation and produce a report.

Both RECC and HIES provide a free mediation service and will attempt to resolve the issues between you and the installer. Both can force the MCS Installer to rectify the problems at their cost or in extreme cases refund the money.

Step 4 – Proving the grounds for complaint

When you have a poorly performing system all you want is for it to be put right, but identifying the problem can be very difficult. This is the trickiest aspect of the complaint’s procedure. If the installer states that it is working correctly, or they are incapable to rectifying the faults due to lack of knowledge and experience, how do you move forward?

The first port of call is referring the complaint to the MCS installer's Certification Body (as set out under Step 3) for them to inspect the installation and produce a report.

Another option is to try to engage the heat pump manufacturer. If you have used an ‘approved installer’ from the manufacturer’s network you will have a little more justification for insisting the manufacturer attend to determine whether it is a product fault or an installation fault. Of course, the manufacturer is not really responsible for the installers on their network in any meaningful way, but from a goodwill/reputation point of view they are often keen to assist.

Depending on the outcome of those inspections, the original installer may be able correct their installation faults. In cases where the design was fundamentally wrong (for example, heat pump too small, too large or radiators undersized) and/or the installation was poorly executed, you may not want the same installer back. One option is to commission another heat pump installer to inspect the installation and provide a report with a cost to put right. With a report from another installer it is more straightforward to demonstrate the grounds for complaint and put a price on rectifying the problems. 

Step 5 – Independent Arbitration/Ombudsman

If mediation does not work the matter can be referred for independent arbitration or to the Ombudsman Services where the decision is legally binding. RECC use the Independent Arbitration Service and HIES use the Ombudsman Services. This will be an opportunity for RECC or HIES to put your case forward and you will need to provide evidence of non-performance and/or non-compliance, for example energy bills, original documentation and any reports from the manufacturer or an independent installer.

In all cases the Arbitrator’s decision is final and legally binding. If the MCS Installer does not comply with the Arbitrator’s decision it is enforceable through the Arbitration Act 1996. If the award is a financial one, which is often is, this will end up as a County Court Judgement against the installer if it goes unpaid.

MCS Installers also risk losing their membership with RECC/HIES/MCS and their Certification Body if they do not comply, which means they can no longer fit renewable heating systems. Directors of companies that go into administration, including shareholders and senior managers, are prevented from re-joining where it is possible to identify them.

4) What if I haven’t used an MCS certified installer?

You are still covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the information given to you by the installer was misleading, either written or spoken, and you have relied on it in your decision to go ahead with the installation. You are also covered if the installation was not ‘carried out with care and skill’ and/or ‘completed within a reasonable timeframe’. You can go via the small claims courts for damages up to £10,000.

If you have paid for the installation by credit card, even in part, you are also covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which means your credit card supplier will refund the money, up to £30,000, and pursue the installer through the courts.

5) Help if your installer has gone into administration

MCS installers are required to take out insurance to cover you in the event they cease trading before the works are complete or during the warranty period so that you avoid any financial loss at any point during the process.

MCS Installer has ceased trading before the works are commence: Deposits/advance payments should be held in a client account and if this is the case your money is safe from the administrator/liquidator. If the money has been spent on purchasing your equipment (which is being held at the MCS Installer’s premises) the terms of your contract should state that the equipment is held in trust by the MCS Installer but ultimately belongs to you. It will therefore not be taken by the administrator/liquidator. If your deposit/advance payments have been spent (and not on the equipment for your works) then you will need to make a claim on the insurance. The insurer will appoint another installer to complete the works at the same price as you were quoted.

MCS Installer has ceased trading before the works are finished: If works have commenced but are incomplete, you can make a claim on the insurance policy to cover the cost of another installer finishing the works.

MCS Installer has ceased trading during the workmanship warranty period: the insurance policy will cover the cost to put right installation faults during the warranty period (between 2-10 years).

6) Refund for a cancelled contract

MCS installers must refund all monies if the contract is cancelled during the 14-day cooling off period. NB when the cooling off period starts can vary depending on where the contract was signed, so do not assume it started from when the contract was signed. If the installer has refused to refund your money because you have cancelled the contract you must refer the matter RECC or HIES. RECC and HIES can require the monies to be returned in accordance with the terms of consumer code.


Jo & Caroline - Heating Heroes

Get 1-2-1 help with your existing heat pump

We'll review your problems and help you through the complaints process

More reads...

How to avoid a bad heat pump installation

We help you avoid the pitfalls that lead to substandard installations when you follow our guidance.

Learn more

Hydrogen boilers, the new green gas

Hydrogen boilers could be a easy replacement for gas boilers and operate in a similar way, but they are not without their problems, not least of producing low carbon hydrogen on a huge scale.

Learn more