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Training to meet net zero goal

As the UK moves towards a net-zero future, more low-carbon heating technologies will need to be installed for this to be achieved. Tom Murray, specification director commercial and residential at Baxi Heating, explains what professional heating contractors and their installers need to know and how product training will need to be prioritised to meet the future of heat challenge

In order to ensure new developments are as energy efficient as possible, the residential new build market is going through a significant period of legislative change that will impact heating contractors and their installers.

One of the key changes is The Future Homes Standard, which seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of new build homes by ending the use of gas heating systems in all new build houses from 2025. In addition, the recent review of Approved Document L (conservation of fuel and power) and F (ventilation) for new dwellings should come into force towards the end of 2021. This will mean greater energy efficiency requirements for new homes over the next five years.

SAP 10.2 will also come into effect as the revised compliance calculation methodology underpinning Building Regulations, meaning carbon factors for electricity will be changing and dwelling emission targets will be tighter, as a step towards the outlined 2025 ambition.

For professional installers, these changes mean that the gas-powered plumbing and heating systems they are used to installing in new build developments will shortly be a thing of the past. As a result, the main challenge will be upskilling the thousands of heating engineers in the UK to fit new low-carbon technologies. 

Without effective product and installation training, there will there be a shortage of skilled workers needed to do this essential work. To put this into perspective, for roughly 165,000 new build developments, 140,000 of these will be gas reliant at the moment. When you consider that there are only 30,000 air source heat pumps (ASHPs) installed across all sectors at this time, which are currently serviced by less than a 1,000 MCS qualified installers, in order to grow the market, there needs to be a significant boost in qualified installer numbers. Optimistically however, this does present an opportunity for contractors to win business by being ready and willing to upskill.

Low-carbon ASHP technology

Electric-based technology such as ASHPs feature heavily when discussing how low-carbon heat will be delivered for homes built to the Future Homes Standard. ASHPs are a relatively new technology in the UK, so there will be a period of acclimatisation required and a solid effort across the supply chain to deliver quality installations.

As ASHPs aren’t currently specified or installed in great numbers, there is more room for error. This is especially true for the majority of contractor teams used to working with gas boilers who will not be as familiar with ASHPs. An incorrect installation will add time and cost onto a job, which should ultimately be avoided. Furthermore, installation errors could lead to inefficiencies such as more expensive running costs. For instance, a well-designed and installed ASHP should in theory deliver cost efficient heating that is close to the equivalent of gas-powered systems. With ASHPs having a finer degree of tolerance however, it is so important to get the design and installation exactly right.

It is clear that there must be more support, especially at the early stages of widescale ASHP adoption, in order to mitigate problems. To help combat this, indemnified Baxi Design services can support the accurate design and specification of all Baxi Assure heating and hot water products including ASHPs. Not only this, but bespoke Baxi Training services are also provided at training centres across the UK to educate contractors across the full Assure product range.

Finding one solution

To succeed in meeting the net-zero challenge, contractors and their installers need far more than just a range of efficient, dependable and built-to-last products. They also need help and support to run projects efficiently via one point of contact, and have excellent product specification, design and training services at their disposal, from a manufacturer they trust – today and tomorrow. 

 

7 January 2021

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