Paul Hardy, managing director at Baxi, offers some fuel for thought on today's launch of GDHIF.
The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), launched on 9 June, 2014, entitles householders in England and Wales cash back of up to £7,600 when carrying out energy-efficiency improvements.
Against the backdrop of rising fuel bills, the aim is to help people take control of their energy bills and have warmer, more efficient homes.
With energy-efficiency at the heart of the UK’s economic strategy, we can expect to see more from government over the coming months to help incentivise efficiency even further. According to DECC, heating and hot water in the home accounts for around 80% of the UK energy bill, which is what the GDHIF has been designed to help tackle.
In a recent Baxi survey, nearly a third of consumers admitted that they have had their boiler for 5-10 years, while a quarter have had the same boiler for over ten years.
When asked what would encourage them to change their boiler before it breaks down, nearly 40% said saving money on their energy bills would be the key factor, while 35% said cashback from government. With potential savings of over £300 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust, there is an appetite in the market if the incentives are right.
The fund could be a great opportunity for the installer but despite industry-wide lobbying, only authorised Green Deal installers can install energy-efficiency improvements under GDHIF.
The problem is that the route to receiving the ‘Green Deal Installer’ stamp of approval is neither simple nor cost-effective. The rigorous process includes PAS 2030 certification and compliance with conditions set by DECC and DC ORB. Installers must also maintain clear and detailed records of all work done and allow monitoring of installation work when requested.
For the busy installer already under time constraints, the worry is that the maze of red tape and high-startup costs will exclude many independents, thus impacting the scheme’s success.
While it is completely understandable that the government wants only fully qualified professionals to carry out work under the GDHIF, there are other less costly and time consuming ways for installers to demonstrate their competence. Baxi are already in talks with the government about changes that will help simplify the process further and ensure full accessibility to the installer.
It is disappointing to see that the installer has been somewhat overlooked. For the time being however, we must work with what we have, and there are many courses and bodies such as Stroma that can help installers develop skills to comply with the requirements of the GDHIF.
It is important to remember that the fund has made the Green Deal more attractive to homeowners, and is therefore a step in the right direction. By working with government it is hoped we will be able to simplify the process further and work towards a scheme that doesn’t hinder installers and that further encourages energy-efficiency in the home.
Further information about the benefits of the scheme for installers can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-green-deal-guide-to-the-green-deal-home-improvement-fund