Press | Published on 10th Apr 2017

Retrospective Boiler Labelling- 6 months on

Stewart Clements, Director at The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council talks about the new boiler labelling scheme, why it was created and how it is designed to provide an opportunity to start the energy efficiency conversation with consumers.

Over a year of planning came to fruition in November 2016 at PHEX, Chelsea when HHIC launched the ‘Retro Boiler’ label, and we were really pleased by the positive industry response we received. The overall feel was that the labels would be a conversation starter 

Gary Wright, Heating Engineer at AC Wilgar said “On issuing my first ‘Retro Boiler’ label the customer had no clue that boilers had various efficiencies. This isn’t uncommon. Many people I visit are often unaware of how much they could save by upgrading their boiler. These labels are a great way to start the energy efficiency conversation with customers.”

We know that many installers already have a well-established relationship with their customers and are able to discuss system efficiencies, as well as the overall efficiency of the property- after all gas and boiler engineers are the UK’s most trusted trade. We also know, that this isn’t always the case. So why not have as many tools available to you to help get that conversation going, when you see fit?

That was the driver behind the ‘Retro Boiler’ labels, as well as the witnessed success in Germany. Updating old inefficient boilers will save consumers money and the planet in terms of emissions.

Of course energy efficiency isn’t just about boilers, there are many other areas for discussion. But just as there is no one system that suits all properties, there is no one solution to energy efficiency. All measures are valid in their own right. Like a bag of nuts and bolts; together, different but all needed.

The concept of energy labels is familiar with consumers. They are used to seeing them on various appliances and it helps them to quickly assess how energy efficient their appliances are.

No gimmicks, just clear information to help the consumer make a choice.

UK boiler efficiency

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS, formerly DECC) estimate that heat related activities account for a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions and nearly a half of the energy we use. Much of this heat demand stems from the combustion of gas in domestic boilers. Therefore, upgrading the average efficiency of the UK boiler stock would have a significant impact upon the UK’s primary energy use and consequent greenhouse gas emissions.

There are approximately 9 million inefficient boilers in the UK. A large proportion of these are over 20 years old and would be classed as ‘zombie boilers’, these are boilers with old technology that never seem to die, yet they remain highly inefficient – costing homeowners in terms of higher bills, the planet in terms of higher carbon dioxide emissions and a contributor to poor air quality – compared to a modern condensing boiler.

HHIC believe that more needs to be done to encourage homeowners to consider replacing their old ‘zombie’ boiler. Replacing a Band F or G (~70% efficiency) boiler with an A-rated (>90%) appliance could reduce the carbon footprint of a typical UK household by 0.7 tonnes of CO2e each year, as well as reducing gas bills by approximately £150.

The Energy Related Products Directive (ErP) and previous energy label schemes have proven that consumers do react to clear ratings on labels and respond by trying to maximise their efficiency.

The ‘Retro Boiler’ label is a simple visual explanation of the efficiency of the boiler. It also advises the consumer of the benefits of replacing their existing boiler with a modern version.

Retrospective boiler labelling can be easily completed during any visit by an engineer to a property. When an installer identifies a non-condensing boiler with a continuous pilot light, they can issue the label to the homeowner, if they see fit.

Since the launch of the Retro Boiler label, boiler manufacturers have reported an encouraging response from their installer base. Martyn Bridges, Director of Marketing, Worcester Bosch said, in a recent article;

‘This initiative represents a big step change towards achieving a better heating provision in the UK. By making homeowners aware of the efficiency of their existing boiler and encouraging them to make a comparison, the Retro Boiler label scheme certainly opens up an opportunity for heating engineers.’

And it seems the scheme is catching on, in March, the association of the Austrian heating industry – launched a ‘made in Austria’ energy label for the installed stock of heating appliances and mentioned the HHIC scheme in their launch press. One of the concrete proposals of the Association of the European Heating Industry for the review of the Energy Performance of Buildings is to introduce a requirement for Member States to launch their own labelling initiatives for the installed stock of heaters. It seems the UK is ahead of the game.

Retro Boiler labels are voluntary, FREE and available from your boiler manufacturer.