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Green Homes Grant Scheme hot and cold

Industry commentators have expressed some disappointment that more home improvement measures are not embraced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Green Homes Grant scheme. 

Stewart Clements, director, HHIC said: 'Announced in the recent mini-budget on July 8, the Green Homes Grant scheme aims to deal with green home improvements whilst providing employment.’

'HHIC welcomes the release of the scheme details. Industry can now plan and respond accordingly. We think this could be an interesting scheme to raise the profile of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and solar.

'HHIC has recently launched a “Heat Pump Charter” aimed at ensuring the best consumer experience is obtained when heat pumps are installed, replacing other systems. Giving consumers confidence that their new heating system will deliver the affordability, warmth, and comfort they expect.

'However, there is of course disappointment that options for the consumer appear limited. We believe it would have made greater sense to include a wider set of home improvement measures such as new hot water cylinders, heating controls, and radiators.’

'Currently, hot water storage offers the only inexpensive practical solution for storing energy and banking it for when it needs to be used. We believe this is a missed opportunity.

'Tradespeople must also register for TrustMark, or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to take part in the scheme. Government, of course, have a duty to protect consumers who sign up to the scheme, but we believe that the mechanisms for quality assurance are already in place through Building Regulations. Better policing and adherence to current standards is needed. We hope that this inclusion does not result in higher consumer costs and lower numbers of small businesses benefitting.

'HHIC also notes that funding is due to finish in March 2021, which is a relatively small window, especially in the current climate. We would anticipate future funding will be required to avoid a boom and bust situation.'

A missed opportunity

Meanwhile Isaac Occhipinti, head of external affairs at the Hot Water Association (HWA) said: ‘The decision to exclude hot water cylinders from the Green Homes Grant scheme is baffling.

'Government should be putting long term plans into place to improve our homes. If the UK is to increase its use of low carbon heating technology, then storage of some sort will be necessary, and currently hot water storage is the only practical solution for storing energy and banking it for when it needs to be used.

'It makes absolutely no sense that a hot water cylinder isn’t on the list of approved measures. Why isn’t the Government recognising the importance of hot water storage? The Green Homes Grant scheme appears to be another missed opportunity.’

Missing a trick

Oliver Baker, chief executive at Ambion Heating, said: “The announcement of further detail on the government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme is undoubtedly a positive step forward.  However, it has arguably missed a trick when it comes to the eligible technologies it has chosen to widely publicise so far.  By explicitly favouring one or two technologies, there is a risk that those applying could miss out on newer and more effective options that can have an even greater impact when it comes to reducing emissions and cutting energy bills.  

“For example, the energy usage and emissions for computer-controlled infrared heating (CCIR) are at comparable levels with air source heat pumps.  It also has the added benefit of 40% lower installation costs.  In the full guidance released by BEIS, it states that ‘eligible measures are any energy efficiency and heating measures compatible with the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) that will help improve E, F or G rated homes.  As such, we look forward to discussing the availability of CCIR under the Grant with Local Authorities.

“As decarbonising domestic heat is one of the biggest challenges we face if the UK wants to hit its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the government needs to ensure that any grant scheme designed to improve energy efficiency - including both the Green Homes Grant and proposed Clean Heat Grant - should fully embrace innovative technologies that can provide for a cleaner, greener future.”

Boiler upgrades not included

Commenting on the announcements, Martyn Bridges, director of technical communication and product management at Worcester Bosch commented: “Although we support any scheme that actively tries to improve the efficiency of UK homes, the fact that upgrading boilers is not included in this grant is an oversight. There are still anything up to 6m non-condensing boilers in operation so upgrading to a high efficiency condensing boiler would have made a significant improvement to these homes.

“Another concern is that tradespeople need to be TrustMark or MCS accredited registered companies to undertake the work. The overwhelming majority of heating installation businesses are not members as they are small, one-man operated businesses. Therefore, while we will end up with more efficient properties for homeowners, there will be no great job retention outcome for the businesses that are not able to take advantage of this grant.

“However, it is pleasing to see that if one of the listed primary measures has been installed then a secondary measure would be eligible for “matched “ funding. The secondary measures include smart controls which again will add efficiency savings to the property.”

4 August 2020

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