Covid will put consumers first

22nd Jun 2020


The economic outlook is bleak as a result of Covid. It will take years for us to recover and there will be pain felt along the way by millions. Some will argue to re-set the dial on how we live, what food we eat, what energy we consume. I don’t think that will wash, but there is something our industry can and should do.

More than ever before, we need to be the champion of the consumer. A disgruntled consumer or poor experience reflects on the industry as well as the individuals who provided the service. I could run through dozens of areas where the energy industry could and should do more, where improvements can be made, where consumers could truly be put first. We all could I guess. But I want to focus on an anomaly that Government could address immediately, to give consumers extra protection and which the heating industry should take the lead.

With the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), to qualify for the government subsidy, there are certain conditions that need to be met. For example, BEIS insist that loft and cavity wall insulation are both fitted for the consumer to qualify for the RHI payment when installing a heat pump. It makes sense, this heating technology operates differently to a gas boiler, so the government subsidy is being protected by adopting these insulation measures – a fabric first approach.

Yet, a consumer not receiving the RHI does not have to follow the same fabric first approach. Government is letting the consumer risk a poor heating experience by not insisting on the same measures being fitted. The same applies to the RHI requirement for a full heat loss calculation to be conducted but not for non-RHI installs. Any poor heating experience will reflect upon the whole heating industry and as an industry we should not accept that.

So our challenge will be different. It should be industry asking Government to do more to protect the consumer. In doing so, we will position ourselves on the right side of history as we recover from Covid. In the coming weeks, we will say more on this.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO