0344 324 5242 / info@hiesscheme.org.uk
HIES Blog

Scottish Parliament Debate on Consumer Protection for Home Efficiency and Renewable Energy

 

It’s always a pleasure to be in Edinburgh whether for work or relaxation and after a 10-year absence I managed to go twice in two weeks. Firstly to celebrate my wife’s 30th Birthday and earlier this week to attend the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Consumer Protection for Home Efficiency and Renewable Energy chaired by Clare Haughey MSP.

The vision
Scotland is really leading the way in the UK for renewables and the Government has an ambitious target of 100% of Scottish domestic energy to come from renewables by 2020. In a land of contrasting weather it makes sense to use the environment to their advantage and save consumers money, and most importantly save the environment.

These thoughts were brought down to earth by some of the horror stories shared by representatives from a Citizen’s Advice Bureau as well as an Ayrshire action group. They detailed the systematic, fraudulent abuse of the Green Deal scheme by one particular rogue trader that has left consumers with poor quality installations and in some cases, unable to sell their own homes due to financial charges on the property.

Self-regulation
An enterprising member of the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) had gone through consumer protection legislation and looked for a way to assist consumers. This made me think that where legislation doesn’t always cover consumers it is down to industry to look for self-regulation solutions and with dwindling resources in the consumer protection world such as cuts to trading standards budgets, it really is important that self-regulation is given a platform.

We look forward to the next meeting in May.

Adrian Simpson
Assistant Director of Consumer Policy

 

Photo: Adrian Simpson at Holyrood, The Scottish Parliament

undefined

 

Have a question?
Call us on 0344 324 5242
Or send an email to info@hiesscheme.org.uk

Avoid Solar PV Health Check Scams

HIES are aware of an increasing number of consumers who are being contacted by companies regarding their Solar PV installations. These companies are cold calling consumers claiming that they are working in conjunction with, on behalf of or in partnership with HIES, The Insurance Backed Guarantee Company (IBG Co.) or MCS.

We would like to reassure consumers that HIES has not partnered with any companies and have not and will not ever pass on any contact details.

Consumers have been contacted and offered the following services:
   • Maintenance
   • Upgrades
   • Safety checks
   • Inverter checks
   • Buy back solar solutions

HIES, as a consumer code, is concerned about these calls and are taking the matter seriously. We will be working closely with MCS and Trading Standards to ensure that consumers are protected and are aware of these scams and know how to protect themselves.

If you feel like you have been affected or are unsure if a company is genuine or not, we would advise you seek advice from Citizens Advice Helpline: 03454 040506 or, to confirm if you are registered with HIES, call us on 0344 324 5242.

Sales of Heat Pumps and Biomass Boilers

Last month, the Government announced new tariffs and rules for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive which came into force on 20th September 2017. These changes present a great opportunity for installers to expand their sales of air source and ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers.

In the case of air source heat pumps, the available tariff for most properties will rise by 33% to 10.18 p/kWh.

However, the government have also introduced some restrictions with a requirement for heat demand caps and, in due course, requirements for metering. The former will have a particular impact upon performance calculations for mid-sized domestic properties.


This is particularly complex for the calculations concerning heat pumps and biomass boilers. As a result, HIES risk managers have considered the best way to implement these regulatory changes for members.

We have decided to support members by making it a requirement of demonstrating compliance with our Code of Practice that all members selling air source or ground source heat pumps or biomass boilers submit their energy performance calculations for installations to be independently validated by a third party certification such as The Energy Performance Validation Scheme (EPVS), www.epvs.co.uk, or an equivalent scheme.

The independent validation process will ensure that consumers have full confidence in the performance characteristics of the installation.

If you have any questions please contact HIES on 0344 324 5242 or email info@hiesscheme.org.uk.

 

HIES and Chartered Trading Standards Institute enhancing consumer protection

HIES is an approved code sponsor of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS). CCAS is self-regulated and aims to bolster consumer protection and improve customer service standards.

The purpose of the CCAS goes hand in hand with the fundamentals of HIES; both aim to improve the industry for all parties. HIES does this by providing accredited members the highest level of protection for themselves and their consumers.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) monitors consumer codes, such as HIES, to ensure they are operating to the required standard. In collaboration with CTSI, we produced a statement explaining our goals for the industry and what we hope to achieve.

You can view this on the CTSI website: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/news-room/2017/consumer-protection-is-at-the-heart-of-hies 

CTSI Audit concludes HIES “Measurably Improves Consumer Protection” in the Home Renewables Market

 

The Home Insulation and Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES) has received high praise following the company’s first audit, by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), since becoming an approved code sponsor in 2015.

undefined
HIES Founder Tony Pickup (Left) and Brand Ambassador & Ex BBC Watchdog Presenter Nick Ross (right)

On 1st August 2015 HIES was officially recognised as an approved CTSI Consumer Code, the UK’s second official Code of Practice for the renewable energy sector.

In May this year HIES was subject to an onsite audit by a Chartered Trading Standards Practitioner from CTSI. A copy of the report can be downloaded from the CTSI website. 

Throughout the report HIES has been praised for the way it conducts itself and highlights several areas of best practice. It states:
“HIES is a dynamic organisation that has made significant improvements to its systems within the last 12 months that have measurably improved consumer protection”.

Ikano Bank lends its support to a determined renewable energy industry

Despite an initial slow down, after the latest Feed in Tariff cuts, the domestic renewable energy sector is picking up momentum again. Government figures for January 2016 show 18,772 solar PV installations, compared to a figure of 8,527 during the same period last year (based on number of installations in the UK ≤ 4kW, source DECC Solar PV Deployment 25th Feb 2016). The sector is maturing, stabilising and showing sustainable growth, so why have so many lenders left this space?

Domestic purchasers often look to obtain finance in order to spread the cost of their investment in renewable energy products over a term that suits their budget. Being able to offer a loan through a third party lender gives retailers a safe and secure financing option that helps ensure they maximise sales conversion.

Access to Consumer Finance for Renewable Installers


Earlier in the year a number of finance lenders in the renewable sector removed themselves from the market. 

This left many installers without a finance facility. HIES recognises the important part finance lenders play in our industry and has been working with lenders to mitigate their Section 75 and Section 56 liabilities (promises made by installers). This is the reason why they exited the market. HIES is giving them confidence to re-enter this market.

As a result, some finance lenders are now accepting expressions of interests from HIES members.

Real Consumer Protection - The Unique HIES 3 Stage Complaint Handling Process


No one likes unhappy customers.
They cost time, money and can reflect badly on the industry as a whole. Your business’s reputation can depend on consumers’ ‘word of mouth’ and unhappy customers can reduce confidence.

Ask Yourself: 

* How much time do you spend dealing with complaints?

* How much money have you spent trying to resolve complaints?

* How much have you paid out in compensation?

Farinheat Becomes Accredited HIES Manufacturer

Innovative UK Heating Manufacturing Supplier, Farinheat, has become one of the first accredited manufacturers of the Consumer Protection Organisation and Consumer Code HIES.

undefined

Based in Knutsford, Farinheat continues its recruitment of a network of over 30 installers for its contemporary electric central heating system designed to equal the running cost of conventional gas heating. Its latest product replaces ugly radiators with wafer thin ‘Designer’ panels, producing efficient healthy heat with zero carbon monoxide emissions. With no annual servicing costs, further savings can also achieved through Farinheat's compatibility with solar powered systems and battery storage units.

A New Consumer Code with A New Philosophy “We Are Here To Help”

undefined


"HIES have invested considerable resources into providing not just a ‘Code of Practice’ for installers but a totally different value proposition. It isn’t enough for us to simply mirror existing Consumer Codes, HIES represent something more. A lot more. If there is one message we want installers to be clear of, it is that “We Are Here To Help”. Whether this is through helping installers with difficult situations involving customers, or helping navigate through the Code of Practice Audits, our mantra will always be the same, “We Are Here To Help”.

Tony Pickup, HIES Founder

Home