The Sustainable Energy Association’s (SEA) recently released ‘What Next for Heat and Buildings’ report, makes for an interesting read with a review of the current UK policy landscape against both the Government’s intended targets, and the SEA’s vision, which is to help create living and working spaces fit for future generations. The report outlines the key policy gaps that have been identified by SEA membership organisations and key stakeholders, including retailers and manufacturers of energy saving measures, insulation and heating systems, installers, energy suppliers, innovators, housing providers and other organisations with expertise on energy in buildings. Whilst the SEA welcomes the monumental shift in the UK Government’s focus, with Net Zero placed firmly on the policy agenda, there are still many gaps that need to be addressed to help the UK achieve Net Zero by 2050.
From a HIES perspective, for our both our members and the consumers we protect, there are several pertinent points:
- Consistency and a long term commitment in Government policy is absolutely needed to encourage the renewables and energy efficient home improvement sector to invest. Many of our members have seen the opportunities and grasped the nettle to commit to this sector, but for many businesses, it is still perceived as too high risk with the bad memories of the Green Homes Grant still lingering.
- To achieve the decarbonisation goals, we have to take a whole house, multi-measure, fabric first approach and at every opportunity, embrace a retrofit strategy which maximises the benefits of low-carbon heating technologies, avoids unforeseen circumstances and unintended consequences, and reduces energy demand. HIES members are experts in their field and can advise consumers on how this works.
- The Government must focus on building up policies and incentives to encourage installers to recommend low-carbon heating solutions. To build the capability that will enable this change, support is needed to help train installers who are much more likely to recommend a technology that they can install. Again, this is something HIES can help with.
- The report also talks about decreasing the number of rogue installers, a principle on which HIES has been established – to ultimately protect the consumer. We also think that that Government should ensure protections are in place for schemes which involve the installation of energy efficiency and low-carbon heating measures. HIES is happy to work with Government to ensure those involved in the installation of measures are competent and well informed to a suitable standard before carrying out any work under any government scheme. We agree with the SEA view that Installers and companies should be given access to financial support and accredited training to achieve set levels of competence and ensure the sector’s preparedness for the Government’s policies and schemes.
- HIES is here for both our member installers and consumers, so we were particularly interested in SEA’s recommendation to Government for a consumer awareness campaign to showcase best practice, educate, build knowledge and ultimately generate interest. The Government and industry must provide consumers with cost data and inform them of the benefits of installing low-carbon heating technologies, as opposed to traditional fossil fuel heating systems. This is something that together with our members we have been doing, but how much more powerful would it be, to get a national, Government backed consumer campaign.
How much or how quickly Government will listen to and implement the recommendations is still to be seen. But we’re not holding our breath. In the meantime, we will continue to look after our installer members and ensure that all consumers are respected, protected and educated on their home improvement journey.