With change coming to the way we heat our homes, Chris Jones of PHAM News looks at what heating engineers need to do to embrace the opportunity?

If you don’t like change and unpredictability, then perhaps your most recent rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ might not have been belted out with quite as much gusto as previous years.

As 2019 gets underway, there are so many question marks surrounding the near future that some people might be forgiven for not only remembering old acquaintances but wanting to return back in time too.

Will Brexit happen, will house prices fall, will Trump be impeached and will Ipswich Town (my team) ever win another game of football?

All questions – certainly the latter – that some of the wisest of heads would be reluctant to provide definitive answers.

Can you afford to ignore the increasing demand for more environmentally friendly and energy saving solutions?

Chris Jones PHAM News Chris Jones Editor of PHAM News

In the front line

Even forecasting the longer-term seems a harder game to play than it would have five or 10 years ago. Will there be any retail outlets left on our high streets, will all our jobs be taken over by robots and will we succeed in countering the threat of climate change?

The reduction of carbon emissions is widely acknowledged as being the key to addressing what many would claim to be the most pressing of those issues and the heating and plumbing industry is very much in the front line when it comes to providing some answers.

When, not if

Reversing our reliance on fossil fuels such as oil and gas and switching to more renewable forms of energy has long been more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ it will happen.

Even if governments were less concerned about damaging the environment, resources are limited and the current controversy about fracking suggests there’s a limit to how far people are prepared to go to get the very last drops.

Despite the introduction of energy price caps, potential future fuel shortages and the rules of supply and demand mean that most households are going to see domestic heating taking an increasing slice of their household budgets – providing further incentives to invest in renewable and low carbon technologies.

Beyond gas and oil

When it comes to viable alternatives to domestic gas and oil boilers, heat pumps are widely acknowledged as being the front runner. 

The Committee on Climate Change forecast that the UK market will see one million heat pumps sold in 2030.

With sales in recent years running at less than 25,000 units a year, perhaps they may be advised to have another look at that figure, but there’s no denying the direction of travel.

Last year saw the first major advertising campaign by an energy provider to promote the benefits of air source heat pumps and its competitors are unlikely to want to be seen to lagging behind when it comes to the supply of sustainable solutions.

The business case

Those heating and plumbing installers who were left disillusioned by the Coalition Government’s efforts to drum up demand for its discredited Green Deal scheme might think twice about getting ahead of the curve, but the business case for being trained up and qualified to install heat pumps is likely to become harder to ignore in the coming years.

For those homes without access to gas, there may be clear economic and environmental arguments for fitting heat pumps, but installers who operate in urban areas may also find that their credibility is enhanced if they are able to discuss with customers the relative merits of different technologies and the viability of hybrid systems.

Final thoughts

It’s not always easy to predict the future, but one thing that can be said with some certainty is that things will not stay the same.

History suggests that those companies who embrace change are the ones most likely to thrive and, with the way we heat and control our homes continuing to evolve, no installer can afford to ignore the increasing demand for more environmentally friendly and energy saving solutions.

Chris Jones is editor of PHAM News