Heating maintenance is not just about the boiler

Heating maintenance is not just about the boiler, says Warwick Dalton.
The heating season is a particularly busy period for an installer, answering a higher volume of call-outs for homeowners who more often than not, require their boilers to be serviced.
However, these visits provide the perfect opportunity for an installer to help advise their customers on other aspects of their central heating system, including further ways to save energy and money; and compliance with regulations.  Not only will this add value for a homeowner but help an installer upsell their services.  Here, Honeywell Installer Network member Warwick Dalton of Proven Services, explains how an installer can do more.
From my experience – having worked in the heating and plumbing industry for more than 20 years – the rate of change we have seen has been incredible.  Some of the largest obstacles we now face are the growing concerns on the cost of fuel and ultimately, fuel poverty.  Several potential energy-saving measures now exist in a bid to help homeowners deal with these issues.  Many of our customers have benefited from free installations and energy monitoring devices to provide more comfort and reduced wastage, and similarly many of them have switched energy providers.  However, only a handful of the customers we encounter fully understand the savings which can be made through installing modern heating controls.
Whilst making a heating assessment to determine the correct heat source for a property, we always dedicate time to explain the benefits heating controls can provide and dispel some of the myths which surround their installation.  As installers, we are all aware of the technology which exists meaning there is now a heating control pack to suit every scenario. However, this is not necessarily the case for our customers.  Every installer has a growing duty to assist homeowners on both their quest to make energy and cost savings and also with the increasing need to comply with new legislation.
Zoning is a major opportunity to upsell, yet is still greatly overlooked, or in some cases misunderstood.  Knowing your zones as an installer is vital so we can pass this information onto our customers to explain the benefits of programming their heating to suit their lifestyles.  Planning effective zone control within a property can deliver savings which exceed more than 30% reduction on heating costs – which is a prospect too good to miss for any homeowner in the current economic climate.
It’s not just homeowners who can benefit from this either.  Proven Services recently returned to a local school to service a zoned system which we had upgraded just over a year ago.  With a new boiler installed and high level fan convectors fitted for safer, speedier heat recovery and distribution, each classroom and public area had its own programmable thermostat.
When we investigated the energy efficiencies which had been achieved over the last 12 months, the figures revealed a huge reduction of fuel consumption of almost 60%.  This was due to the school benefitting from the eco and holiday functions – which are incorporated into the controls we installed – and the easy regulation of temperatures.  Though very few people live in houses the size of small schools, the savings are still comparable and should be highlighted to homeowners pricing for future work.
With Government figures from DECC showing that 8 million homes do not currently have a room thermostat, there is a vast market for installers to capitalise on.  Modern energy efficiency does not just end at a customer’s boiler – heating controls have an increasing role to play and installers need to make sure they are included as part of the maintenance package to help drive more business back to themselves.
For more information on zoning and the different models of heating controls available, please visit www.honeywelluk.com.