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Cowboys undermine installer role

Industry figures gave a robust defence of the role of installers in driving carbon emission reductions and greater energy efficiency in the existing housing stock, at a debate held at the House of Commons last week.

Government representatives expressed concerns about cowboy installers and questioned if they were the most effective route to market for energy efficiency solutions.

Also present at the debate on The Great British Refurb: a winning policy? was British Gas which emphasised an area-based approach to energy efficiency solutions. This would be driven by energy services companies (ESCOs) rather than installers.

Colin Challen MP, chair of the All Party Group for Intelligent Energy which organised the debate, raised concerns that rogue installers could undermine consumer trust in new energy efficiency solutions.

“There have been cases of rogue installers, on insulation, for example, taking people for a ride and not even installing the insulation as promised. There is evidence to suggest that too much trust has been placed on the tradesman in the past,” he said.

Department for Energy and Climate Change head of energy saving finance John Russell added: “If we’re serious about climate change, we need to get over a number of obstacles such as inertia among the public, cost concerns, concerns over disruption and the issue of trust in those carrying out the work.”

Worcester Bosch head of sustainable development Neil Schofield (pictured) countered the comments and emphasised there were many great installers in the market.

“There is no need to create a new route to market. We already have 121,000 registered gas installers. There are a few rogues but you can’t tar them all with the same brush,” he said.
“Rogue Traders shows the industry in a bad light but the TV companies have to watch hundreds of installers before they find one rogue.”

Mr Schofield also argued the industry was ready for a big push on energy efficiency and only needed clear Government will to do so.

“When Part L came along, we did it. If there is a need to step up again, the industry will do it. What we can’t do is plan in a vague policy atmosphere, and that is what we have at the moment.”

WWF head of campaigns Colin Butfield, who was also present at the debate, concurred: “Our feeling is that the technology, supply chain, and understanding of the thermal performance of buildings are all there. What is absent is the right political climate. There was a sense a few years ago that climate change had forced its way to the top of the agenda, but the recession has relegated it in terms of political priorities.”

NICEIC head of personnel certification Wayne Terry said installers should be seen by Government as a key target as “the guy in the overalls will make the decision in the household 90 per cent of the time”.

He added: “There are enough installers and enough capacity in training courses and facilities but it is expensive. We must incentivise the installer.”

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