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HPM April 2015

SPECIALREPORTS WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com The future for managing heating bills Peter Northwood, Connected Homes director at HomeServe Alliance - the firm behind www.smartinstallers.co.uk - looks at the homeowner demand for smart thermostats and what this means for installers... Although winter is over, the cold weather remains, and our research has uncovered that one in three homeowners are more concerned about heating bills than ever before. More than one third (37%) of Brits rationed their heating this winter with the aim of saving on their bills, with 17% admitting that they only turned their heating on when the temperature got ‘arctic’. COMPARISON CHARTS Our research also revealed that nearly 40% of people have a desire to take more control over their heating bills. With homeowners referencing comparison charts, insulation and rationing heating as different means of control, an astounding 30% of people cited smart thermostats as ‘the future for managing heating bills’. This uncovers a huge opportunity for installers, who can support their customers by supplying and fitting smart thermostats, and helping them save money on their bills. Despite the talk of small drops in price, heating bills are not sustainable for British homes and something needs to change. We launched smartinstallers.co.uk in response to the increased consumer demand, as it gives installers the information and discounted products to offer to their customers. RISING PROFITS Over the last few months, installers who were part of the initial trial have said that their customers are noticing a significant drop in their heating bills. What’s more, the installers are also seeing a rise in their profits, as they are not only selling smart thermostats, but they are also seeing an increase in boiler installations when they are offering them with smart thermostats too. Our research also highlighted that 20% of homeowners ran their heating during the winter for at least two hours a day, with no one at home and incredibly, nearly one in ten households ran their heating for at least six hours a day. The tado thermostat that our members can access at a discounted rate, tracks when homeowners are leaving their house and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Considering the amount of hours that people run their heating when no one is home, this in itself could make a huge saving. What was also interesting in our research was that one in four people said that they would be keen to have a smart thermostat, but didn’t know who to ask or where to go to get one installed. Again, this represents a huge opportunity for the installer. INFORMATION AND ADVICE Smart Installers is set up to provide installers with information and advice on the leading products on the market. It also offers a helpline to support with product queries and installations. Through the club, installers can purchase wholesale smart thermostats, which they won’t be able to find cheaper elsewhere. For more information, visit: www.smartinstallers.co.uk. enquiry number 125 Make carbon reduction more accessible Scrap the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive in favour of a realistic carbon reduction policy, says OFTEC... With current take up of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) falling way behind government targets, OFTEC is concerned that the policy is failing to attract sufficient consumer investment in carbon reduction. As a result, OFTEC is urging the next resident of Downing Street to replace the scheme with a more joined-up carbon reduction and energy efficiency policy to encourage greater consumer buy in. ‘PIE IN THE SKY’ Latest statistics from Ofgem show that in the first ten months of operation, the domestic RHI attracted just 6,244 new (non-legacy) accredited installations. The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s initial impact assessment stated the RHI aimed to support around 750,000 ren ewab le he at ins tallations by 2020, equating to approximately 10,800 new installations per month. Therefore, with the current rate of take up, this target is clearly ‘pie in the sky’. In addition, while the high upfront costs of installing renewable technologies have proved a deterring factor for many consumers, the recent dramatic drop in oil prices means that RHI tariffs now also look much less attractive. According to the Sutherland Tables, a recognised independent source of data on comparative UK domestic heating prices, oil is now the cheapest of all the major heating fuels, costing £119 less per year to heat an average three-bedroom home than mains gas, the second cheapest option. In contrast, the cost of heating the same home with air source heat pumps and radiators is £448 per annum, more expensive than oil, underlining why homeowners are reluctant to switch, even taking into account RHI payments. OFTEC director general, Jeremy Hawksley, said: “With the general election looming, OFTEC is lobbing whichever party, or parties, that form the next government to completely overhaul the domestic RHI which, as it stands, is just not achieving what it set out to do. With the recent huge drop in oil prices, the lack of interest in RHI will become greater as it will be even harder for off-gas grid consumers to justify the installation costs of renewable heating systems - even with RHI payments.” OFTEC is calling for the domestic RHI to be replaced by a new Carbon Reduction Scheme, 32 APRIL 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY which incorporates a more pragmatic approach towards low carbon heat. The proposed policy would still include renewable technology incentives, but also encompass more affordable measures - such as a boiler scrappage scheme - to incentivise a switch to oil and gas condensing boilers. This simple change would make carbon reduction and energy efficiency measures accessible to many more households, especially the elderly and fuel poor, that are excluded from measures such as the RHI and the Green Deal, because of the high upfront costs of renewables. BIOFUELS ENCOURAGED OFTEC’s suggested policy would also encourage the take up of biofuels, such as B30K, and hybrid systems combining existing oil, gas or LPG heating with renewable technologies, such as solar thermal and heat pumps. Jeremy concluded: “We feel this stepped approach would encourage many more consumers to invest in lower carbon heating and would go much further in reducing the UK’s carbon footprint than the relatively few people who have taken up renewable heating systems through the RHI.” enquiry number 126


HPM April 2015
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