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Chris Jones looks towards the end of gas and oil heating 

With Britain’s relationship with Europe dominating the news agenda for the last couple of years, you might wonder how many stories have ended up on the cutting room floor that might otherwise have received wider exposure.

However, there is one issue that has recently succeeded in breaking through all the Brexit noise, grabbing its share of newspaper front pages and dominating debate on national and social media.

The targeted disruption by the Extinction Rebellion activists, coupled with a stream of insightful reports from respected bodies and institutions, has meant that climate change and the potential impact of global warming is again front of mind for anyone who cares about the future.

The use of fossil fuels for domestic heating is no longer viable in the long-term

Chris Jones PHAM News Chris Jones Editor of PHAM News

Cross-party support

Headlines generated by the UN report on the extinction of species and calls from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to set a new net zero emissions target have helped to provide a sense of urgency that has perhaps been lacking until now.

Following on from its recommendations to ban the installation of gas boilers from new homes in 2025, the CCC has now championed the widespread adoption of low or zero carbon heating installations by 2030.

Describing current plans as ‘insufficiently ambitious’ the CCC argues that the Government needs to implement a clear regulatory framework to drive the uptake of more environmentally-friendly heating solutions, and the early signs are that many of its recommendations will receive cross-party support.

We’re used to change

The heating installation community is not unused to change, with the introduction of condensing boilers, renewable heating options and increasingly sophisticated controls all taken on board in recent years, but the pace of change is only going to increase as time moves on.

It is now widely accepted that the use of fossil fuels as the mainstay of domestic heating is no longer viable in the long-term which – whether or not current research into the potential of hydrogen boilers comes to anything – is likely to see a significant increase in the installation of heat pumps and hybrid systems.

It is also recognised that switching over 29 million UK homes to low carbon heating solutions would be a massive undertaking, but there is no chance of this being achieved without a major re-training programme of the country’s designers, specifiers and installers.

How will you adapt?

You don’t need a degree in Business Studies to know that companies struggle when they fail to adopt new technologies or adjust to new ways of doing things.

If you’re self-employed and have got your eyes on retirement in 10 years or so, then you may be forgiven for not wanting to embrace unfamiliar products and installation techniques. After all, the fitting and maintenance of gas boilers is not suddenly going to stop providing a steady income.

However, for those who are just starting out in the industry or who harbour ambitions for establishing a growing and flourishing business, then there is no point in pretending that the skills and knowledge you have now is going to be enough to see you through.

Embrace the opportunity

If you are not content to be viewed by your customers as just another combi fitter, there is a real opportunity to re-invent yourself as an energy efficiency expert, someone who is able to offer advice on how they can both reduce their energy bills and minimise their impact on the environment.

As concerns grow about what more we can all do to ensure that we leave our planet in a fit state for the generations to come, there’s every chance that you will be addressing a receptive audience.

Chris Jones is editor of Plumbing, Heating & Air Movement News