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Ben Bartle-Ross has some salutary advice for heating engineers

If you’re involved in HVAC and you’re still not interested in learning about heat pumps then I think you’re missing a trick.

Yes, I know the government has just rolled back the date for a gas boiler ban until 2035 but the tide has already turned against gas and everyone understands now that we simply need to ‘stop burning stuff’ if we are to do anything to reverse climate change.

There will be older heating engineers who will see enough business from gas over the next decade to last them into retirement.

But for the younger generations coming through, I see this as a real opportunity for savvy installers to get ahead of the pack and build a sustainable business fit for the next decade or more.

There is a lot of work to be won, but only if you know what you’re talking about!

Ben Bartle Ross Ben Bartle-Ross Technical Trainer

Growth and more growth

When I say the tided has turned, I think the average consumer understands that we need to change a lot of things about modern life and one of them is how we heat our homes and offices.

On the residential side, the increase of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from £5,000 to £7,500 will increase the number of middle-income households that now look at replacing gas and oil with a heat pump.

This will be slower than it should be to get us to net zero, but it will still be growth.

It’s on the commercial side where I think the major growth is going to come over the next 2 -3 years.

Many businesses have realised that they must change from gas if their buildings are going to meet the energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets that are coming, and these businesses are actively building the removal of gas into their yearly budgets.

Global finance

We’ve written before on The Hub about how global finance is driving investment in sustainability and this has already affected the Corporate world, with the big brands declaring their own net zero targets and pushing for more sustainable operations and buildings.

We’ve also produced a white paper highlighting the dangers to businesses of ending up with a ‘stranded asset’ that they can’t let because it doesn’t meet the increasingly stringent environmental targets.

So the change is happening at a boardroom level and building owners are seriously looking at the sustainability of their assets.

As a company, we also see that this is filtering down to even the smallest companies in the land.

Salix funding

At the same time, the government’s public sector decarbonisation scheme, or Salix funding is transforming public buildings.

There is a limit to the amount available each Phase of the scheme, meaning that it is more oversubscribed than the search for Taylor Swift tickets.

In Phase 1, the government made Phase 1 £1 billion in grants available partly to support rebuilding after Covid and partly to help reduce carbon emissions. Phase 2 provide £75 million but had a much stronger focus on heat decarbonisation, while Phase 3 is making over £1.425 billion available up to 2026.

This is making a real difference to schools, libraries and other public buildings which are slowly but surely removing gas from their sites.

What it means for our industry though is that there is a lot of work to be won, but only if you know what you’re talking about!

Are you on board for growth?

So, the public sector is decarbonising, the Corporate world is decarbonising, and the environmentally-conscious, middle income housing sector is getting on board with heat pumps. 

Yes, there are still major issues with the retrofit challenge and what we are going to do with the millions of homes that need a serious upgrade to really benefit properly from a heat pump.

But there is still a rapidly growing market for sustainable heating – especially in the commercial sector.

For me, it’s a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to add renewable heating to your toolkit?

Ben Bartle-Ross is a Technical Trainer for Mitsubishi Electric