Press | Published on 2nd Jan 2017

New heating policy indicated

Now that all of the ‘excitement’ is over many of us have started the New Year with a refreshed view and renewed enthusiasm. In my last column I talked about the key things I should plan for in 2017 and of course the key things we (HHIC) should aim for. Top of the list was heating policy.

Following the political upheaval of 2016 the heating industry has been waiting patiently for some kind of policy direction. As heating accounts for 65% of all domestic energy use, we need to reduce emissions and the amount of energy being consumed. The best way to do this is through the deployment of energy efficiency technologies and to deploy them we need some clarity and direction.  Practical, affordable and realistic steps must be developed, with energy bill reductions in mind.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BIES) gave the industry an early indication on the future of heating policy in December 2016 (earlier than my prediction of 2017!) when they launched a consultation entitled ‘Heat in Buildings: The Future of Heat – Domestic Buildings.’

The consultation which proposes that, appropriate time, temperature and weather compensation heating controls are installed in residential properties at the time a new boiler is installed and that this is mandated in Building Regulations follows recommendations made to BEIS in the HHIC paper ‘Boiler Plus – The next step in heating regulation.

Once seen (by some) as shiny new toys with an uncertain shelf life, intelligent heating controls are a prevalent part of our industry. That said many homes still do not have even the minimum heating controls (TRV’s). This needs to change.

In 2005 the government improved the energy efficiency of the residential heating sector at little additional cost to consumers, by mandating that all new domestic gas boiler installations should use a condensing boiler. In order to find further heating efficiencies, HHIC believes that mandating Boiler Plus systems is the next logical step.

Boiler Plus is defined as “a heating appliance with an additional unit that optimises the performance of the heating system”.

HHIC presented the Boiler Plus research paper to BIES (formerly DECC) in 2015. Since then we have been encouraged by the level of interest shown in our research paper.

As an industry, we have worked collaboratively to help bring this consultation to the market place, and I am pleased that the key ideas outlined by HHIC have been adopted by BEIS.

We know that changing Building Regulations in 2005 to mandate that all domestic gas boiler installations should use a condensing boiler remains one of the most successful government interventions into the residential energy market to date and I believe that mandating the installation of time and temperature controls with new boiler installations will prove equally successful.

Adopting this policy will, at little additional cost to consumers and government, make a valuable contribution towards achieving the ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and reduce energy consumption which will reduce household energy bills.

Currently, we install 1.6 million new gas boilers per year and if each of these boilers was accompanied by a full suite of heating controls the carbon and monetary savings made would be substantial. I am pleased that HHIC have been instrumental in getting BEIS to investigate this option.

The HHIC is part of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, EUA. A recent survey by EUA found that nine out of ten MPs believed that to improve energy efficiency in homes, a full set of heating controls should be fitted when a central heating boiler is replaced. Despite this backing, HHIC knows that the success of a policy like this depends on the support it receives from the heating Installer. It is imperative that as many Installers as possible complete the survey. Now is the chance to have your say and help shape future policy that works for all.

The survey and consultation closes on 27th January 2017. To complete it please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/thefutureofheat

Or to read the consultation in full please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/heat-in-buildings-the-future-of-heat