As the waiting the list for air source heat pumps continues to increase, I can’t help but feel frustrated. As a tradesperson with over 30 years of experience in the industry, I have never before been in a position like this.
Manufacturers we have worked with for years are extending their lead times and offering little certainty on arrival times. I am having to pass this disappointment over to my customers, and inevitably take a negative hit to my reputation, and my business.
With the switch to heat pumps being high on the list of sustainable changes from the United Nations, why are the government doing nothing to encourage people to choose them?
What is causing the current supply chain issues?
Supply chain issues are still causing an alarming disruption to our trade, despite being less of a focus point in the media. The pandemic was only the beginning, from fuel prices rises to the Suez Canal blockage, it has just been one thing after another.
This year we have had a sharp rise in dock worker strikes, from Liverpool to Felixstowe, and the effects have been felt nationwide. I am sure you are as tired as I am of hearing the ‘B’ word, but we are still feeling the knock-on effects from Brexit.
While I can understand some things are beyond control, I want to know what the government is doing to support independent businesses and protect our trade? Because so far, it feels like the answer is nothing.
How is this affecting the service?
There is currently a three to six month wait for the arrival of heat pumps, which varies for each manufacturer. Trying to be transparent about the shipping times to our customers is close to impossible, as we are constantly being informed of unexpected delays.
When your business is built on a foundation of reputation and trading standards, it is vital to be able to deliver the level of service your customers have come to expect. I am constantly having to let down valued customers, due to delays that are unforeseen and out of my control.
The most frustrating part, is at the end of the day the only thing to suffer as a result of these delays will be our businesses.
What is being done to prevent disruption?
Most traders are understandably not willing to compromise on the quality of their materials, so it is extremely difficult to resolve these issues with the UK stock limitations.
Is it possible to find a similar quality of product in the UK? Yes, but this comes at an additional cost for the customer, which inevitably impacts their trust in the tradesperson.
From quoting a customer with an estimated timeline and cost for their project, the last thing you want to have to do is go back on your word. There is no way to avoid disappointment in this situation, and it feels like a lose-lose for all involved.
How does this compare to Europe?
Europe is leaps and bounds ahead of the UK and is rapidly increasing the installations of electric heat pumps. According to the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), heat pump sales grew by 34% in Europe in 2021. However, out of the 21 countries the EHPA monitored, the UK failed to make the top 10 in terms of sales.
Why? Because European governments are offering more to support this eco-friendly change. From subsidies to grants, they are revolutionising the future of home heating.
What could our government be doing?
While the UK government has created a target of 600,000 heat pump installations per annum by the year 2028, we are still moving far too slow.
There is talk of a new gas boiler ban by the year 2035 – but why so late? With gas prices continuing to rise, we need a change to come now. We need to prevent becoming reliant on an unstable natural energy source.
Instead of offering unhelpful future targets, the government needs to tailor their current schemes and grants to push people in the direction of renewable energy and make a much needed change for our country’s future.
Why it’s worth the wait – benefit of heat pumps
There is no denying that the huge increase for demand in heat pumps is inevitably a very positive sign. Globally, we are finally recognising that renewable energy is the only way forward, and electric heat pumps are by far the most environmentally friendly way to heat your home.
The United Nations and COP27 are all pushing for more to be done about climate change, and a large part of this plan involves tackling renewable energy sources. We need our government to step up and do more to help both educate and facilitate this desperately needed revolution.
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