Over the past 20 years, the Benchmark Scheme has come a long way. It’s now recognised by various government departments and even by estate agents and solicitors as a document to ask for when a house purchase is being conducted.
With the rise in digitalisation, the scheme has evolved and grown. It has now evolved from a paper version checklist to a digital app to help both installers and homeowners better navigate a boiler installation and indeed its full service history.
Where it started
The Benchmark Scheme originated in 1999 and, of course, as there was little digitalisation at the time, it started as a paper version checklist.
We created a logbook to support this, separate to the installation instructions. This helped the installer correctly document and commission the initial installation of the boiler in the heating system, as well as providing a prompt or a schedule on how to explain the use of the appliance and its controls to the end-user.
Several years later the logbook was incorporated into the installation instructions rather than displaying these two components separately.
As the installation instructions are covered under the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations, it made this element more official, as opposed to voluntary.
The requests and requirements have changed with the evolution of technology and with this evolution the scheme is even more relevant today.
The scheme has been acknowledged by various government departments and within the Building Regulations it is included as a mandatory requirement that the Benchmark Scheme and Checklist are completed.
Move to digital
The digital version of the scheme was released in March of this year, via an app available on your smartphone, which both installers and homeowners should download.
Through the app you can electronically document the commissioning of the boiler and fill out the fields within the checklist and submit digitally for ease.
This is where a subtle difference can be seen, as the paper version always stayed with the homeowner, however the digital version is more transparent, with both homeowner and manufacturer able to access relevant documentation which is now held on a Benchmark database.
Recent discussions with the governmental department concerning decarbonisation have also recognised the benefits of the Benchmark Checklist and how the government are very supportive of it. This relates particularly to points which affect the efficiency of the system, flushing and balancing, system cleansing and use of controls.
What’s to come?
Due to the success of the scheme, and the impression it has made, government departments involved have been considering recommending it as a vehicle to approve any potential future funding that might be available for heating technologies.
Presently there is the Renewable Heat Incentive and grant funding available for certain technologies, such as heat pumps or solar thermal. There is a thought that the completion of the Benchmark may be a way to demonstrate the installation and hand-over has been successfully completed and the funding for the technology can now be released.
There are continuous improvements being made to the Benchmark Scheme, with the next addition to this being the consumer app, which will provide details of the household boiler. In addition, there will be service history, useful tips and hints on how to get the best out of a heating system, money saving tips on efficiency and fault-finding tutorials that a homeowner will be able to rely on to get their boiler up and running again.
In summary, government departments are impressed with the scheme and are in discussions about endorsing Benchmark in the future due to its resounding success.
We would encourage installers to download the app and get into the swing of using the system as by 2022 we expect the paper version not to be included in the installation instructions.
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