GTEC’s MD, Griff Thomas, discusses the impact of the UK energy crisis on the heating sector and what steps need to be taken to ensure our homes are efficient and affordable enough to navigate the challenges of the future.
Consumers are heading towards a winter season throughout which they will be paying a lot more for their energy – an average of 12% (or £139) when the price cap rises on 1st October.
In the face of such a tangible increase in basic living costs, the question on homeowners’ lips is ‘how can we stay warm for less’?
For some this will mean turning to relatively low-cost technologies to make sure their heating is operating effectively and efficiently. A ‘fabric-first’ approach is always best, looking to insulation and draught-proofing to prevent heat loss.
Heating controls such as weather and/or load compensation and TRVs can help to boost efficiency, while smart thermostats automatically optimise heating to lifestyle, giving homeowners greater control. Installers are industry experts and can make a real difference to peoples lives by helping them chose the right green technology for their needs.
Others will be thinking longer-term, considering alternative heating that will deliver high-efficiencies and reduce their carbon footprint. Take the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) for example. This well-established technology is ‘zero-carbon ready’ and produces as much as 4 times more heat than the electricity it uses.
Contrary to popular belief, ASHPs can work well in most properties alongside energy efficiency improvements and low-temperature heating systems, such as underfloor heating.
Electricity is more expensive per KwH than gas but with the benefit of super high efficiencies, an ASHP could produce the same amount of heat for the same cost or less, making it a viable swap for many people considering boiler replacement.
Despite increasing evidence in favour of heat pumps, it was recently revealed that the UK has one of the worst heat pump sales records in Europe. Figures provided to Greenpeace UK by the European Heat Pump Association showed that we install just 10 heat pumps per 1,000 homes, second to last out of 21 European countries, with sales figures pitifully low in comparison.
These figures show that there is still a lot of leg work to be done before there is any real reduction in carbon emissions from domestic heating.
In April 2022, installing an ASHP will be much more affordable. Homeowners with an acceptable level of loft and wall insulation will be able to apply for a grant of up to £7,000 towards upfront costs, something that remains a huge barrier for consumers. Hopefully this will help nudge ASHP take-up amongst UK consumers.
Consumer incentives can make a huge difference, but only if they work. There have been some notable failures over the last ten years – government must consult the industry and listen to its experts, in order to design effective policies that drive uptake of low-carbon technologies more in-line with our European neighbours.
The role of installers
Without a strong foundation of multi-skilled heating installers, government targets will be meaningless. Upskilling courses are designed with existing installers in mind, building on their skills and experience to diversify their services, meaning its now easier than ever to become qualified in renewable technologies and Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited.
We need suitably trained and accredited installers to meet demand for alternative heating systems, helping homeowners become more resilient to future energy challenges, and the UK move from its woeful position near the bottom of the heat pump pile.
In order for homeowners to take advantage of Government incentive schemes they need to choose MCS certified installers. We have made the process of becoming MCS certified easier with the launch of ‘MCS Made Easy’, on online learning platform designed to help installers comply with MCS 001.
The programme includes a webinar and supporting documentation. To register, visit: https://www.mcsmadeeasy.co.uk/