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Fans seek energy ratings boost

Fan manufacturer Diffusion has called for an energy rating scheme to be introduced for fans. Leigh Stimpson, managing director of Diffusion sees energy ratings as an important marketing tool as customers increasingly consider lifecycle costs in buying decisions and as pivotal in getting fans included on the enhanced capital allowance (ECA) scheme. ECAs enable a business to claim 100 per cent first-year capital allowances on their spending on qualifying plant and machinery. Mr Stimpson envisages a voluntary energy ratings scheme using the expertise of a testing organisation like BSRIA. Diffusion is working with the South Bank University to validate the performance and energy efficiency of its fans, and feels that this could be extended to a widespread benchmarking system. “At the moment fan coils are not included in the ECA scheme. However if the industry backs this plan, it could get fan coil products in there,” said Mr Stimpson. “It will also help the market, as the customer will know what he is buying. We’d like to put a plan together and then go to FETA and BSRIA. We see it as a voluntary scheme that companies can opt in and opt of. It’s clear that the high quality manufacturers will want to take part.” Paul Wenden, business development director at Flakt Woods said his company would support the proposal, and that the issue was something Flakt Woods had been discussing for some time. He said that it has adapted its selection software to help clients more easily choose a fan with the appropriate level of power, in a response to Part L and greater awareness among customers of lifecycle costs. However, he was less convinced about the merits of the ECA scheme. “We’ve pushing for fans to be included on the ECA, but we’re a little cynical about the scheme. It tends to focus on components such as motors, but these aren’t used in isolation. Plus there are very large loopholes, we’ve seen some customers select very large products just to get ECA funding, when they could have used a smaller but better sized product. These kind of monetary incentives can backfire sometimes,” said Mr Wenden. Geoff Lockwood, chairman of the Fan Manufacturers Association has a bleak assessment of the industry’s prospects of getting fans included on the ECA. “It’s a long way off. We’ve been trying for years, but like any Government run scheme, the ECA is very difficult to change. This has been compounded by failings in the fan industry. For example, fan manufacturers are poor at generating the statistics that might convince the Government to act. “It is also difficult to get manufacturers to agree on what is an efficient fan, some companies are afraid their products won’t make the cut.”