“The recent publication of wave 2 of DECC’s Public Attitudes Tracker reminds us how much still needs to be done in terms of educating consumers about the benefits of renewable heat technologies,” says Rexel UK director Brian Smithers.
“More than half of British consumers (56 per cent) haven’t heard of combined heat and power units, while nearly half (46 per cent and 42 per cent respectively) are unaware of air-source and ground-source heat pumps.
“Although these figures are discouraging, especially when the government is working to ready the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme for summer 2013, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“The RHI scheme will work in the same way as the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme for solar panels introduced by the government in 2010.
“Initially, awareness of the FiT scheme was low. Rexel carried out a survey in July 2011, revealing that only 13 per cent of Brits had heard of and understood photovoltaic (PV) Feed-in Tariffs.
“But one year on, the latest DECC Tracker shows that 82 per cent of people support the use of solar, so you can see how public attitudes and awareness has moved on.
“There are clearly lessons to be learned here. For the adoption of technologies incentivised by schemes like the RHI to improve, people must have access to good advice.
“It’s the industry’s job to help customers make sense of new energy efficient technologies and navigate the various incentives available.
Legislation to encourage the adoption of these technologies, such as the RHI for renewable heat, can only take us so far.
“It’s crucial that the industry comes together to share knowledge and educate, not only the consumer but also the developers, specifiers and installers who play such a key role in helping the UK to meet its carbon emission reduction targets.
Rexel recently launched the Sigma Home at the BRE Innovation Park, which integrates a range of renewable energy and energy savings solutions from smart metering and LED lighting to an air-source heat pump, to raise awareness of current technologies and demonstrate to visitors first-hand the changes that can be made.
“In low energy buildings, heating alone, which is the largest energy consumer in the average European building accounting for some 50 per cent of total consumption, could represent as little as 10-15 per cent with the right technologies in place.”