Government plans to force households to undertake a home survey and spend thousands on energy-efficiency could 'seriously backfire', warns the Heating & Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC).

Responding to plans by the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) to alter existing Building Regulation requirements for boiler replacements, the HHIC believes the plans could pose a safety risk to consumers, costing the consumer more and threatening to undermine attempts to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

The consequential improvement plans would require households to have additional energy-efficiency measures, such as loft or cavity wall insulation, fitted when a boiler is replaced.

HHIC believes this ‘enforced take up’ could alienate householders to energy-efficiency measures and the Green Deal, when faced with a regulatory requirement to have a home survey, to arrange and undertake additional ‘disruptive’ work, and to have to either pay for this work or take out a loan. This, HHIC said, could lead to unfavourable publicity which could be very damaging for the Green Deal.

Concerns have also been raised that the plans could considerably increase the number of illegal installations each year.

Roger Webb, director of HHIC said: “We strongly support the principle and ambition of the Green Deal with its plans to improve energy efficiency. But forcing people to undertake a home survey, or take out a loan to fit extra energy efficiency measures when their boiler needs replacing is simply wrong. The government needs to consider the implications of this proposal, carefully.

“In the middle of winter, if your boiler does breakdown, you want a replacement fitted fast and safely. Hitting households with extra costs and more bureaucracy, at this time of need, will only encourage people to use illegal installers.

“Replacing an old inefficient Band G boiler with a modern Band A boiler saves 1220 kg of carbon dioxide each year, making a massive impact upon the carbon footprint of each home, as well as saving the homeowner money off their energy bills. Improving controls as well contributes more. But faced with additional upfront costs or a loan, more red tape and the threat of government inspection we fear people will simply make do and mend their old boiler. This has the opposite impact of what other government departments, such as DECC, want.

“HHIC is committed to raising the energy-efficiency standards of UK homes, and we are keen to work with government on the introduction of effective measures that meet our shared ambitions but to do so taking into account market and consumer sensitivities.”