Press | Published on 5th Dec 2016

Retrospective Boiler Labelling- a voluntary conversation starter

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 on November 16th at PHEX, Chelsea when we 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.

The Government has estimated that by 2020, the annual net savings to the UK economy resulting from energy standards and labels will be in excess of £850 million per year, with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 7 million tonnes per year.

The heating industry were introduced to energy labelling in September 2015, when mandatory energy labelling was extended to all domestic and commercial heat generators, water heaters and hot water storage products, and associated products sold within the EU, with an output less than or equal to 400kw.

The new regulations place obligations on manufacturers to ensure that any products placed on the market from September 2015 meet the minimum performance requirements and have an energy label.

It does not, however, address the efficiency of the 23 million existing boilers in UK homes.

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 concept of the retrospective boiler label

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 during the service, they can issue the label to the homeowner if they see fit.

Possible outcomes of the scheme

Using the English Housing Survey, HHIC estimates that the replacement rate of non-condensing boilers is approximately 10% a year. If this scheme resulted in the replacement rate increasing to 11% in its first year (approximately 90,000 boilers); this could result in an immediate carbon saving of 62,000 tonnes per annum and a cumulative total consumer bill saving of over £13 million.

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