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Editors Comment: Wedded to gas but is there a change coming?

When I went to the Vaillant launch of its domestic air conditioning units, conversation after the meeting turned to marketing.
Editors Comment: Wedded to gas but is there a change coming?
The domestic heating and hot water market is wedded to gas.

I know there are plenty of ways of heating homes and, with the rising price of gas, many householders must be looking at other methods.

Look at the Burning Issue article (see page 17) and you will see that, certainly for landlords and housing associations, electric heating could be cheaper - and easier, especially when the cost of maintenance is taken into account.

But, unless it is a new build, things are pretty much set for gas condensing boilers.

The man from Vaillant admitted that, with this new small ac range - the company hinted that there was more to come - it was looking perhaps at air conditioning a bedroom or a couple of rooms. So there would have to be other forms of heating to keep the rest of the house warm and a source of hot water.

He reckoned that it would cost about £1,500 a unit installed.

For the same price as having three ac units installed, home owners could have a very sophisticated gas central heating system or for a few extra pounds, a ground source heat pump or solar panels.

Homes are getting smaller. Even quite expensive new estate houses are almost reminiscent of the despised back-to-back homes of yesteryear.

And, unless the home to be air-conditioned has an outbuilding or is detached, then the outdoor condensing unit will be sitting on the patio noisily condensing away just when you want to sit out in the afternoon or evening.

When my boiler went wrong 18 months ago, I got in touch with an installer and asked him what he thought.

He did not mention an air-source heat pump, or electric storage heaters. He suggested a gas boiler (not even a condensing boiler then) and new radiators.

Frankly, I did not expect him to offer anything else and I'm the editor of HVR.

So if other forms of domestic heating are going to take off in Britain, there has to be a change of mind-set.

Installers have to think differently and offer different solutions.

I don't think anyone has yet figured out how to crack the domestic market.

As I have said, it will need a change of mind-set from everyone, consumers, installers, and even manufacturers - and money doesn't even come into it!

Paul Braithwaite, Editor
1 May 2006

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