Jeff House, Head of External Affairs Baxi Heating UK (incorporating Heatrae Sadia) is BMBI’s Expert for Water Heating.
We live in strange and uncertain times. As expected, the impact of a near total lockdown during the earlier part of this year resulted in a significant downturn in demand for construction products across the board, including heating and hot water systems.
Now for some much-needed positive news! The gradual easing of restrictions has resulted in a strong bounce back. According to the latest Energy & Utilities Alliance economic reports, domestic boiler sales in June returned to “normal” levels tracking at only 4% down versus June 2019, but still 23% down year to date. Hot water cylinders enjoyed an upturn as well, albeit slightly weaker at 8% down in comparison by month and 21% down year to date. In part this can be attributed to pent up demand for non-emergency RMI work which was not possible during lock down, however, performance during July gives hope that this positive trend will continue throughout the year.
Regarding Government policy we have seen some interesting developments.
Firstly, the Green Homes Grant Scheme, revealed in July, has been clarified by a succession of press releases and guidance documents. The purported £2bn scheme, initially open to applicants from September 2020 until April 2021, appears to primarily target insulation measures. Heat pump installations are in scope but the requirement for both MCS and Trustmark accreditation is causing some controversy in the industry. For our part we see the scheme as an interesting start in tackling the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock but rue the lack of inclusion of essential components such as hot water storage.
August also saw the release of “Planning for the Future” a white paper on the planning system. The main thrust of this is related to systemic change of the planning process but also includes an interesting statement related to the long awaited Government response to last year’s consultation on changes to Approved Documents L & F of the Building Regulations, promising a full response “in the Autumn”. This, coupled with the expected publication of the BEIS “Heat & Buildings Strategy” means a busy few months for the heating industry later in the year.