Installers can encourage the path toward decarbonisation in homes with smart pumps

Dave Williamson, Sales & Marketing Director at Wilo, shares his thoughts on the current market outlook, challenges facing plumbing and heating installers, and why smart pumps will be key toward making homes carbon neutral.

‘Decarbonisation’; ‘sustainability’; ‘carbon neutral’; ‘Net Zero’; ‘zero carbon’; are just some of the buzzwords that installers are faced with today as they go about their daily jobs. Make no mistake, the country is moving fast toward a carbon net zero future, and taking the temperature in the metaphorical room is that installers are keen to jump on the bandwagon.

However, the decarbonisation challenge is a great one facing our country, and our pool of installers. According to statistics published by Catapult Energy Systems, roughly 13-14% of the UK’s total carbon emissions come through space heating in domestic homes. Meanwhile, low market demand for sustainable installations, coupled with difficulties in accessing funding from government incentives, means installers are finding it tough to justify retraining.

To bring these emissions down, there will need to be a collective push from all sides to make the journey to Net Zero work. Installers, who have a huge influence on what plumbing and heating solutions eventually make their way into our homes, have a significant part to play in this, as does our government, and us as manufacturers.

Government is stepping up but can do more

Let’s look at the positives first. There are many schemes and incentives from the government that are helping drive demand for low carbon heating technology like air source heat pumps. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, for instance, is fantastic for homeowners in England and Wales who want to take the initiative and swap their old fossil-fuel driven boilers for cleaner renewable systems, giving them between £5k – £6k as a grant.

However, even if homeowners are ready to take the step, they are more often than not hindered by the lack of installers available to undertake the work. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme requires a quote from an MCS accredited installer – of which, at the time of writing there were less than 1,000 available across the whole country, according to the MCS website.

The opportunity is significant, but skills will be the key to making this happen. Again, going back to positives, grants are available for installers who want to take on training and up their skillsets, such as the Heat Training Grant for heat pumps that give £500 toward installers’ training costs.

In time, we’d like to see the government do even more in terms of funding for installers to allow them to expand their skill set. In a survey I read recently from a well-known boiler manufacturer, it found that over 40% of 1,300 installers polled believed that government should cover the cost of heat pump training to meet the 600,000 installations target.

Smart solutions and driving better awareness

More directly, installers are possibly starting to see a step-change in attitudes from their customers about knowing what is fitted into their homes. In years gone by, many homeowners may not have been as acutely aware, or even considered much about the energy performance of products, appliances and components in their homes.

Now, however, information is but a touch of a button away, with energy rating labels, smart meters, and a plethora of data pervading our livelihoods. Adding to that is the huge spike in energy costs, which has made us even more conscious than ever before about energy consumption.

At Wilo, we understand this is what modern life looks like, and that’s why our pumps are geared toward helping homeowners understand the performance of their plumbing and heating systems. The Stratos-PICO, for instance, is driven by EC motor technology and Wilo’s Dynamic Adapt plus functionality, which adapts to how the plumbing system is being used to optimise efficiencies.

A strong outlook

At Wilo, we can certainly feel leaps and bounds being made toward decarbonisation. Previously, we used to see boiler upgrades and heating work as ‘seasonal work’ when the colder months come in. With the grants from government and lots of work going around, this no longer feels the case, which is a great sign that we’re on the path toward decarbonisation.

Through smarter products like the Stratos-PICO circulator pump, continuous training and installers having sustainability at the forefront of their minds when advising homeowners, we can accelerate toward Net Zero even faster. Meanwhile, homeowners can maximise energy efficiency and in turn, reduce their outgoings, and carbon footprint.

For more about Wilo and its range of circulator pumps and products, please visit www.wilo.co.uk