It has been confirmed that the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI) is due to close to new applicants on 31st March 2022 with the last payment to be made in March 2029. With the impending DRHI closure, Government put forward a consultation for individuals to express any opinions on its closure and its potential impact.
To make sure consumers are protected, HIES has shared their views in the consultation and highlighted the utmost importance for consumer protection to be greatly considered amongst the closure of the DRHI.
Improvements to current consumer protection measures
There are some consumer protection measures currently in place amongst the closure of the DRHI however these can, and should, be improved.
At HIES we believe that to protect consumers, there needs to be greater collaboration between Consumer Codes and Certification bodies to ensure that any problems that arise for consumers can be resolved and that resolution will be ongoing after the closure of the DRHI.
Additionally, there should also be a consideration to ensure that the manufacturers involved with the DRHI have a UK based operation to ensure local customer care and they can provide consumers, and installers, with the support they need to replace key components of heat pumps.
Consumer protection risks after the closure of the DRHI
There are several consumer protection risks that may occur post DRHI closure however at HIES we see two key issues that stand out above the rest.
Firstly, not all consumers will be aware of the closure of the DRHI, and this poses a great risk as some installers may still sell to consumers using the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.
Secondly the strict cut-off date of 31st March 2022 poses risks to consumers and having a more relaxed cut-off date could mitigate these risks. For example, allowing a consumer 4 months to apply for DRHI upon signing a contract with an MCS installer (on or before 31st March 2022) as opposed to the need for the system to be commissioned as of 31st March 2022. Heat pumps take time to install, and the current stringent cut-off date could force installers to rush installations to meet the deadline, having a negative impact on the quality of installations.
Required additional consumer protection measures
Consumers would benefit from additional consumer protection measures being introduced amongst the closure of the DRHI.
- Introducing a service and maintenance standard.
This would ensure that heat pumps are kept in good condition as well as ensuring installers are undertaking a service and maintenance procedure in accordance with a set industry standard.
- Penalties for manufacturers not replacing components within a set timeframe.
Some manufacturers can take longer than necessary when dealing with consumer’s warranty claims or the claim can be declined altogether.
- Consumer campaign to raise awareness.
A consumer campaign focused on raising awareness of the cut-off date would ensure that consumers do not fall foul to the DRHI.
Faisal Hussain, HIES Chief Executive, comments:
“Albeit there being consumer protection measures currently in place, there is always room for improvement. We need to work together as an industry to set out various policing mechanisms and make peace with the fact that it is going to cost money and resource to do so. This would greatly help in improving consumer protection amongst the industry and particularly post DRHI closure. At HIES, we are always looking at ways to transform consumer protection.”