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Making domestic carbon reduction a reality

The Code for Sustainable Homes is helping to reduce carbon emissions from new properties, but with existing homes currently accounting for around one-third of the UK’s carbon emissions, achieving reductions in both sectors is vital if the government is to meet its ambitious target of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

About 125,000 households in England took part in the Government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme and, as many energy suppliers also offer their own incentives, it has undoubtedly had a positive impact. Part L has also had a significant impact on the boiler industry since its introduction in 2005, so the question now is, where do we go from here?

I believe the industry must turn its attention to the development of boilers that not only meet but go beyond A ratings and there are three key factors to be considered - legislation, the knowledge gap and demand.

Legislation is an effective driver of change, but the targets need to be clear and the deadlines set well in advance of implementation. If a company is to get any return on investment, product innovations must meet if not exceed the minimum legal requirements at their time of launch. The manufacturer is then well placed to make the next important investment: training.

This leads us on to the next big issue: knowledge and standards. When tackling energy efficiency, ensuring that performance levels are maintained after product installation is essential. Installers need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to sell and install products proficiently and to demonstrate correct use to the end user.

Installers will increasingly need to get to grips with the specification of greener technologies and the skills gap will need to be addressed through more regular and comprehensive training, as well as more stringent compliance procedures, as consumer demand grows.

And this leads me to my final point: consumer demand. If we’re to tackle CO2 emissions from domestic boilers, consumer demand for better boilers will be critical. Both the Government and the industry need to go further to encourage consumers to change. Although the scrappage scheme was a welcome initiative, it was also a lost opportunity because it only applied to SEDBUK G boilers.

In order to ensure lasting impact, I would encourage the Government to do more than operate one-off schemes with short-term deadlines. The high cost and long payback period of new boiler products is prohibitive and we need to make them more affordable. The most attractive incentive would be tax breaks given to homeowners who make “green” improvements to their homes.

The Government needs to work closely with boiler manufacturers, installers and consumers to ensure legislation is effective, training is provided and consumers are incentivised to purchase greener boilers. Only then will the industry be able to play a vital role in helping the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.”

Kevin Phipson is managing director of Intergas UK