A different PAS-pective – One installer's view about how PAS2035 and ECO3 could be good for the industry

Lee Fisher, Heating Engineer and owner of Green Albion Ltd, takes a look at PAS2035 and ECO3, and shares his thought about how they could be good for the industry:
Over the past few weeks I’ve felt a growing need to redress the high level of criticism and condemnation of PAS2035 and ECO3.
Lets start with ECO, an initiative whereby energy companies pay to improve the efficiency of houses.
I actually began my business (Green Albion Ltd) to operate under ECO1 and whilst the paperwork seemed daunting at first, it was actually straightforward, once I got to grips with it.
I think it goes without saying that such schemes will always require a higher level of paperwork and planning than a private installation.
In real terms it meant I had to carry out an EPC, write up a formal contract, carry out a site survey, complete risk assessments and method statements, then take photographs proving compliance with building regs (TRVs, new controls etc).
This ‘burdensome red tape’ took me around half a day, including the benefits and land registry checks, and we were paid on average £500 above the then market value for a boiler swap.
Where ECO1 failed was in allowing companies to exploit both the scheme and heating engineers within it. I know stories of 2-year-old boilers being replaced needlessly, and sales companies getting £3000-£4000 for an installation and paying installers £150 to actually do the work.
My other grievance is that private landlords profited more than tenants, as whilst fuel bills might be barely affected by a like-for-like boiler swap, the landlords are gaining the asset and saving anything from £1000-£4000.
In balance I genuinely believe forcing those who profit from the consumption of energy to fund home improvements is a great principle, and that we shouldn’t see the word ECO as a monster.
PAS2035 is a pathway, as I see it, to rather than us slinging a 50kw combi in and heading for the hills, there is a requirement to consider the property as a whole. Not only to look at the radiators that are fitted, the glazing, the loft/wall insulation too, but also to consider what will be installed over the coming months and years.
Surely to consider the performance of an entire building, and to design our systems accordingly is exactly what the retrofit industry so desperately needs?
It may present heating engineers with opportunities to become retrofit assessors and coordinators, and that’s not to mention the additional heating works that may be required following a holistic assessment of a property.
I wouldn’t like to guess as to how many boilers I have installed in houses where the radiators were specified 30 years prior on a barely insulated loft, single glazed windows and a higher boiler flow temperature.
Even just having the conversation of ‘if we upgrade the radiators we can save x’ would be a great starting point.
Within PAS2035 also lies scope for accountability via the data warehouse that could bring an increase in quality and standards that we so desperately need.
It is my view that the ECO3 consultation (now closed) was worded so openly that anyone could take part without purchasing or reading the PAS but I agree that it is completely unacceptable to charge £190 for this document and it infuriates me as much as the need to pay for building regs and other standards too.
We need change, and we need it now, but please let’s debate the pros and cons of any new scheme and work together to better our industry.
Keep an open mind and consider of the motives of those who profit nicely from the status quo.

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