10 Plumbing and HVAC Statistics in the UK – 2023 Update
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
The plumbing and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry in the UK is one of the largest construction industries by revenue and employment figures. It employs approximately 165,000 people across 40,000 companies and has an annual revenue of £17 billion. HVAC engineers and plumbers earn an average salary of £35,000 per annum, although the number of these professionals has dropped over the past 15 years, and the Covid pandemic saw the industry as a whole suffer a large decline.
Below are 10 statistics related to plumbing and HVAC in the UK, including a look at current revenue and forecasted figures, as well as some statistics on employment within the industry.
The 10 Plumbing and HVAC Statistics in the UK
- The plumbing and HVAC market is worth £17 billion a year.
- There are approximately 40,000 plumbing and HVAC companies in the UK.
- Centrica is the largest company in the industry by market share.
- 165,000 people are employed in the industry.
- There are 4% fewer plumbing and HVAC employees now than in 2004.
- The average salary for a plumber in the UK is £35,000.
- The average salary for an HVAC engineer is also £35,000.
- Only 2% of the plumbing and HVAC workforce is female.
- Covid led to a 10% decline in plumbing and HVAC revenue.
- The industry is expected to recover from Covid and post 1.3% annual growth until 2026.
1. The plumbing and HVAC market is worth £17 billion a year.
The plumbing and HVAC industry includes self-employed individuals and large companies that employ HVAC engineers and plumbers. The industry offers both commercial and residential services, and it incorporates the servicing and maintenance of existing equipment as well as the purchase and installation of new equipment. Overall, the industry generates £17 billion a year, making it one of the largest in the construction sector and a sizable contributor to the country’s overall economic figures.
2. There are approximately 40,000 plumbing and HVAC companies in the UK.
A plumbing or HVAC company may be a single self-employed individual or a firm that employs dozens or even hundreds of people. The likes of Centrica, for example, employ thousands of people. Taking into account companies of all sizes, and working in different areas of the industry, there are 40,000 plumbing and HVAC companies in operation.
Centrica is considered the largest company in the industry and is said to hold an 11.5% market share, with HomeServe being the second largest with just a 2.1% market share. T Brown Group is third on the list with 0.3% of the market. These figures, combined with the number of businesses in the industry, show that the plumbing and HVAC industry is primarily serviced by small and independent firms, many of them only operating locally. It is also home to a lot of self-employed individuals offering engineering and fitting services.
4. 165,000 people are employed in the industry.
The plumbing and HVAC industry is an important one. It helps ensure that homes and business premises can manage their internal temperatures while also offering clean air and other benefits. The sector is also a major employer within the construction industry and 165,000 people are considered to work within the industry. This does include administrative and other employees, but a large portion of the figure is made up of plumbers and HVAC engineers.
5. There are 4% fewer plumbing and HVAC employees now than in 2004.
Although the industry is sizable, it has come under pressure in recent years. 2020 and 2021 were exceptional and extraordinary years. The Covid pandemic led to lockdowns and many engineers and plumbers were prevented, or severely restricted, in the type of work they could take on. They were allowed to complete emergency repairs but could not fit, install, or service HVAC equipment during this period. There has been a 4% drop in the number of employees within the industry between 2004 and 2020.
6. The average salary for a plumber in the UK is £35,000.
A traditional plumbing apprenticeship can take up to four years, but a fast-track plumbing course can be completed in as little as 4 weeks with one typically taking three months to finish. A plumbing course that also allows a person to work on gas appliances takes approximately 6 months, but the rewards can be worth it. The average salary for a plumber in the UK is £35,000 per annum.
7. The average salary for an HVAC engineer is also £35,000.
Becoming an HVAC engineer has similar requirements, including getting two or more GCSEs and then either embarking on an apprenticeship or taking a fast-track course. As well as having similar entry and training requirements, the two careers have similar financial outlooks with the average salary of an HVAC engineer also being around £35,000 per annum.
8. Only 2% of the plumbing and HVAC workforce is female.
The plumbing and HVAC industry is still a heavily male-dominant environment, which is typical within the construction sector. In 2021, just 1.93% of plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers were female, meaning that 98 in 100 were male.
9. Covid led to a 10% decline in plumbing and HVAC revenue.
Covid had a significant impact on just about every sector. Lockdowns meant that plumbers and HVAC engineers were restricted to the types of jobs they could do, with virtually all work prohibited during national lockdowns. As a result of this, there was expected to be a 10% decline in the industry in the 2020–2021 years. However, it is expected that the industry will rebound from the negative effects, especially as it looks unlikely that there will be any future lockdowns.
10. The industry is expected to recover from Covid and post 1.3% annual growth until 2026.
Because HVAC systems are considered essential, the industry is expected to recover to pre-Covid lockdowns and in the 5 years from 2025–2026, experts believe that there will be a 1.3% compound annual growth leading to a £15.9 billion revenue within the industry.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is HVAC?
HVAC standards for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It is a series of systems, controllers, and other equipment that is used to control the temperature, humidity, and level of air purity in a building. This type of system aims to provide as comfortable an indoor environment as possible and an HVAC system is most commonly found in businesses in the UK, although some properties may have limited HVAC systems installed, too.
Is HVAC Used in the UK?
Countries like the U.S. and many countries across Europe have HVAC systems in homes and businesses because of the high temperatures and humidity levels that they experience. The UK typically does not have stifling temperatures, even in the summer, which means that air conditioning is not necessary for most circumstances. With that said, air conditioning and HVAC systems are deployed in some public buildings and used in businesses, although it is estimated that less than 5% of homes in the UK have some form of air conditioning.
How Much Do Plumbers Charge?
Plumber charges vary according to the type of work being done, where in the country you are located, and whether it is an emergency or planned job. Generally, however, you will have to pay between £40 and £80 an hour for a plumber, with additional costs for the parts and any specialist equipment that might be required. There may also be a call-out charge for emergency appointments or work completed in the evenings and at weekends.
How Hard Is It to Become a Plumber in the UK?
There are two primary routes to becoming a plumber in the UK, but both require that you complete higher education and usually require that you have at least two GCSE pass grades. You can then either embark on a traditional apprenticeship program, taking up to four years to complete and become qualified, or enroll in a fast-track qualification. Fast-track qualifications take between four and 16 weeks and, if you want to work on gas appliances too, the fast-track course can take up to 6 months to complete.
The plumbing and HVAC industry is one of the largest in the construction sector and 40,000 companies employ 165,000 people. Plumbers and HVAC professionals earn roughly the same, with average salaries of £35,000, and they both have similar entry and qualification requirements that will require the completion of an apprenticeship or a fast-track educational course. The industry has suffered since Covid but is expected to bounce back in the next 5 years.
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