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April 13, 2023

Hometree’s Interview on Ian King Live, Sky News

Our CEO and Founder Simon Phelan, was interviewed on Ian King Live to talk about Hometree’s vision and how our recent fundraise and imminent acquisition of BeWarm marks a key step in our journey to help UK homeowners decarbonise their homes with renewable hardware. In case you missed it, here’s what they discussed… 

Ian: Simon, welcome to you. I mean this funding round was oversubscribed, you could have raised more.

Simon: Yes, we were very fortunate in that there was a pocket of capital in climate and sustainability funds who are looking for growth businesses that are having an increased impact and I guess we were fortunate enough to hit some of their criteria.

Ian: So what is this going to enable you to do?

Simon: So look, our core business as you referenced is competing in the home emergency insurance market against the British Gases and the HomeServes of the world – we’re going to continue to grow that business. But really the opportunity that we see is homeowners are being put under pressure by governments and by other stakeholders to start to decarbonise their homes; move from gas boilers to heat pumps, put solar on the roof – and Hometree believes we have an opportunity to play a role in helping them to do that.

Ian: And you’ve also had some acquisitions – you bought a green financing business called BeWarm…

Simon: Yes, so exactly in line with what I outlined in terms of our strategy – we partnered with this company BeWarm a number of years ago. Our homeowners, when they get to a point in their journey where their actual heating systems can no longer be repaired (it needs to be replaced) they typically come to Hometree to look for an upgrade. Hopefully in the future it’s more heat pumps than gas boilers but really, we find again and again homeowners are looking for financing solutions to help cover the upfront cost because, as you know, these systems are expensive. So for us, we believe there’s a significant opportunity in having a suite of financing products (loans and leasing type solutions) that can help homeowners overcome the upfront cost but ultimately get the long term benefits of these green solutions.

Ian: I mean you’ve put your finger on a really key point there – the cost of these heat pumps is terrifyingly expensive.

Simon: Yes, look, it’s like any renewable technology. These have a cost curve, which you know in the case of EVs today has come down significantly over the last ten years and we’ve seen more and more mass adoption (I see more Tesla’s on the road all the time). We are at an earlier stage in the evolution of heat pumps and other technologies for decarbonising our homes but fundamentally, as we’ve learned over the last 12-24 months, we can’t be reliant on foreign gas to heat our homes. We need to become self reliant in terms of our energy systems in how we heat and power our homes. So I think the impetus is there. The market is gearing up, governments are gearing up – and we believe that solutions such as new financing offerings and service providers like Hometree have a real role to play in adopting the category.

Ian: It’s fascinating. Why do you think the banks aren’t doing this? Surely they could be selling heat pump solutions as part of the mortgage packages?

Simon: Look it’s a great question, I think clearly we’ve seen in the US that the sustainable home improvement market is a challenging category. You know you have hundreds of thousands of engineers going into people’s homes. There’s only so much control that banks can have. So what we see is that the real winners tend to be specialists in the home services space who have direct relationships with the homeowners but also direct relationships with the engineer base who are really the frontline of solving climate change in terms of decarbonising our homes. So at Hometree, really our DNA, is not just an obsession with the customer but an obsession with these engineers and installers. We want to try and make them more successful by wrapping around things like financing and insurance and let them do what they’re so wonderful at doing, which is installing this green hardware in homes.

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