Following the long-awaited announcement of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in April, Paul Aitchison explores why training will play a significant and possibly most vital role in potential business growth gained from the RHI scheme.
As well as the long-anticipated news that the RHI was to be extended to cover domestic installations, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) also launched a £650,000 fund aimed at expanding the skill set of domestic heating engineers that would include the installation and maintenance of renewable heating systems.
Giving consumers reliable information is an important part of helping them make decisions about their heating system and forms part of the drive to highlight the previously-misrepresented benefits of heat pump technology.
In 2010, the Energy Saving Trust revealed the prevalence of badly-installed heat pumps across the UK. It blamed the use of multiple contractors (rather than the single contractor typically used in Europe), for fitting wrongly-sized systems, complicated controls and a lack of education for the householders using them.
However, this criticism of heat pump technology can be countered by contractors correctly sizing, rating and commissioning systems. Equally, end-user training in the correct operation is essential to ensure cost savings are made.
It simply should not be the case that an air source heat pump relies on an immersion heater to provide the home-owner with adequate hot water. When sized and installed correctly, air source heat pumps are a fantastic solution for home-owners looking to cut the cost of their heating and hot water provision.
As many in the industry are perfectly aware, air source heat pumps perform extremely well when compared to LPG, oil-fired or electric heating systems.
It is also important to not leave the customer handover to chance. Don’t forget that on heat pumps, all manufacturers use a control system different to the one you would find on a traditional heating system. So, it’s imperative that the handover of the heat pump system is completed properly, and the homeowner fully understands how the system works.
Homeowners want to (and should) have a level of control, but it is essential that the system is setup to be as efficient as possible while ensuring that the homeowner is comfortable.
At Panasonic, we hope that the financial boost for training announced last month will encourage more installers to achieve the industry MCS standard. The training subsidy is designed to help installers gain the qualifications required to become MCS-certified and get involved in the installation and maintenance of domestic renewable heat technologies including solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass systems.
Providing training for contractors and distributors not only helps them develop their skills and knowledge, enhancing their abilities to complete installations successfully, but it is also motivational and a building block to organisational success.
It is important for any organisation, large or small, to plan the training that their staff may need. While there can be enormous benefits in developing the capability of the workforce, training doesn’t always come cheaply. Training needs to be for the right people, it needs to be the right type of training and it needs to be at the right time.