Friday, April 12, 2024

Installers across UK speak on the direction of current and future commercial & domestic energy

Chris Goggin

Chris Goggin expands his recent discussions that focused on the concerns of heating engineers and system designers regarding the malleable condition of UK energy policy. He has listened to 10 installing contractors, from all parts of the UK for their views, from a pragmatic level on how they see the market and developments.

Rinnai has continued to listen to 10 professionals who specialize in domestic and commercial properties with heating and hot water provision. We asked them a series of further questions and promised anonymity so that they could speak freely. Heating engineers, system designers and boiler installers were asked what current systems and appliances attract customer interest, what future options do they consider viable and if they worry about a lack of clear governance affecting their future. 

A range of professionals who work in heating and hot water from across northern, east midlands, southern England, and Scotland share what they think on the UK government’s strength of direction relating to future energy dispersal.    

The southeast region of England is the most affluent and holds the highest population density in the country. Four installing contractors who specialize in commercial and domestic heating were asked on their thoughts about central policy and governmental direction. 

Please note that these are personal views from a selection of installers around the UK.

An installer from Orpington, Kent said: “I’m only currently fitting gas equipment now. In terms of the future, I think hydrogen will be used over electric boilers. Electric boilers are expensive and need an electrician when fitted. They’re inconvenient and costly.” 

A gas engineer located in Sevenoaks, Kent shared his observations: “I like the idea of hydrogen going forward. The only thing that worries me is extra costs that installers must incur through regulations and yearly skill renewal classes. I’m not a huge fan of heat pumps, they can be temperamental. I recently had to take out heat pumps from a whole block of flats. Once temperatures dropped below zero outside, they stopped working.”

 A solar engineer based in Biggin Hill, Kent recently switched from installing gas equipment to fitting solar panels shared his thoughts: “I didn’t want to be left behind because they won’t be fitting gas in new builds from 2025. All in all, I’d say solar offers proven technology, is best for the environment and can also be a good investment. I have heard of hydrogen but don’t think it is proven or profitable enough for the government to use.” 

A gas engineer from Croydon, Surrey offered similar opinions: “I think the industry has already started to go solar. If you don’t mind the sight of them on your roof, solar panels can be a good investment. Now I’m fitting more gas equipment than anything else. Hydrogen can be used but extra registration costs worry me.”  

A gas engineer from Birmingham is aware of a change to UK energy dispersal – he says: “I still fit gas boilers but have also completed a solar course. I’m still not one hundred per cent sure where the industry will go in the future. It makes sense to think that the government will move towards solar as they profit from it. I’ve heard of hydrogen, but I don’t think big business, or the government will want to use it. It’s cheaper to run and better for the environment but less profit for the big cats. I can’t see hydrogen being used for those reasons.”   

A plumber from Nottinghamshire is not happy with the current quality of governmental advice, he added: “the government need to clearly outline the future after natural gas heating, so we know where to focus our attention. It worries me, do I go solar, electric or hydrogen? I’m not being told anything useful, and I’m worried for the future.” 

A gas engineer based in Sheffield, Yorkshire believes future UK power will not be gas based: “the future is heating pumps and solar. I’ve worked with both and can recommend either of them to my customers. I cannot see hydrogen being used – no way. Existing pipework can’t withstand hydrogen. All pipework will have to be replaced with plastic to cope with hydrogen. That’ll be too costly. Hydrogen can be used for industrial purposes but not for domestic heating.” When also asked on any future fears for job security: “none, I already work in other areas other than gas.”   

Another located in Sheffield, Yorkshire feels the future should be focused on green gasses: “looking at the options available to heating I’d have to pick hydrogen – although there are no domestic boilers available, apparently, they are on their way. Electric is too expensive, and I don’t trust solar. I’m currently advising my customers to update their appliances over the coming years to accept hydrogen.”  

A gas engineer residing in Glasgow, Scotland, agrees with hydrogen: “we must go hydrogen because it’s compatible with existing infrastructure and the cost won’t be too different to switch your gas system over. It’s best for the environment and all other options have flaws. I’m not concerned for my future.” 

Another gas engineer who works in Glasgow, Scotland, is more sceptical on the overall direction of the UK government: “I know the goal is no more gas equipment by 2025, but that’s only new builds – and what are new builds after 2025 getting? Hydrogen could be an easy switch over but there isn’t even any hydrogen equipment or large-scale hydrogen available and we’re two years off. I don’t think the powers have made up their minds. I’ll be okay, I’ll adapt to whatever they come up with.” 

It is evident that heating professionals believe they are provided with unclear information of future UK energy dispersal and could benefit from agreed centralized instructions. Decarbonisation of all industrial, domestic, and commercial UK practises is a huge task – however, insight passed down to installers from the UK government could help to accelerate UK decarbonisation aims.    

Rinnai understands the current pressures faced by installers, system designers and customers alike. Rinnai aims to provide all customers and professionals with information that creates a better understanding regarding all UK energy matters. Enhanced levels of knowledge encourage improved decision-making skills when purchasing a heating and hot water system. 


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