Questioning practices

Honeywell Installer Network member David Spaven (David Spaven Plumbing & Heating) explains what he always asks his customers to help them understand how they will deliver real cost and energy savings.
How do you control your heating?
This question will allow the installer to determine how much knowledge a homeowner has on controlling their heating and whether they have a thermostat or any sort of heating controls fitted in their home. Though a straightforward question, many homeowners don’t even know whether they have heating controls fitted or not. Explaining the answer to this question provides the opportunity to upsell heating controls by explaining some of the functionalities of heating controls and the energy saving benefits.
How old are your heating controls?
If a homeowner does have heating controls fitted, there still may be an opportunity to upsell. Older heating controls may not measure temperature as accurately as modern controls, meaning they cannot deliver as efficient savings as newer controls. They also lack a lot of the additional functions that allow homeowners to programme their heating to suit their lifestyle.
Do you know how much of your energy bill is typically made up from the consumption of heating and hot water?
Homeowners are often unaware and shocked to find out that the generation of heating and hot water accounts for 84% of a home’s energy consumption. Without this knowledge, heating controls can be one of the last things a homeowner thinks of to save energy, putting new loft insulation and switching energy providers higher on the list. Helping a homeowner understand this, and explaining that fitting a thermostat to control a home’s heating and hot water saves on average £120 per year, allows an installer to upsell by making heating controls an attractive prospect.
How is your home heated?
No homeowner would ever control all of their lights from one switch, yet many still control their heating in this way. Asking how a homeowner’s house is heated will determine whether the home is already zoned and therefore whether controls such as programmable thermostats and TRVs have been installed prior to inspection. Helping a homeowner understand what zoning is – and its impact on a home’s heating system – will help explain the energy and cost-saving benefits of having efficient heating controls fitted to them.
Do you know how to use your heating controls?
Too often we are faced with call-outs to homes that have heating controls installed, where the homeowner fears their heating is broken because they have changed a setting and don’t know enough about how the controls work to put it right again. This is a common problem with customers who have never properly been shown how to use their controls efficiently.
Customers will often call us out as they have ‘tweaked’ their thermostats and don’t know what they have done or how to put it right – even though it is a simple job. This is why it is vital an installer both fits a product to suit that specific customer and also explains to them properly how to continually use and manage their heating controls going forward.
Would you like your heating system to do the work for you?
Talking to a homeowner about their heating habits allows an installer to highlight and help them understand in what area around the property they could be saving energy and reducing their heating bills. For example, programming your heating for any interval from one hour to two weeks – a simple function that many customers don’t know about and leads them to get into bad, gas-guzzling habits. In a survey of over 2,000 homeowners conducted by Honeywell, it was revealed that 80% of people leave the heating on constant overnight and up to 46% like to keep the house warm enough to wear just a t-shirt at all times.
Do you know there is a more efficient way to control your heating than from the dial on your boiler?
Many homeowners who are not aware of heating controls may be confused as to the difference between controlling the temperature of their home from the dial on their boiler and from a control, such as a thermostat. The reality is that boiler manufacturers are experts in boilers and heating control manufacturers are experts in controls. Customers don’t necessarily know that using separate controls allows the flexibility to place them exactly where they are needed in a home – e.g the coldest part – thanks to wireless technology.
Helping homeowners see the energy and cost saving benefits of this will help them understand the functionalities and benefits of fitting heating controls.
Why are you worried about the disruption that could be caused by installing heating controls?
The common myth amongst homeowners is that installing heating controls means their walls will have to be damaged and floors lifted to fit them. This is not the case. Modern, wireless heating controls can be fitted without causing any major disruption to the décor and fabric of their home and often more quickly than wired alternatives.
Do you know how easy it is to adapt your heating controls to suit your lifestyle?
Another misconception of heating controls is that they are complicated and difficult to use. Asking this question is the perfect opening to explain how simple they are to use and how they can be programmed to suit every aspect of the user’s lifestyle. The reality is that once a homeowner has been shown how to use them properly, they will never need to be shown again as the controls are simple.
Beyond setting the temperature differently to suit daily routines, homeowners can also set their heating to fit in with their holidays, day trips and even parties depending on the model of heating control that is chosen.
When do I start?
Following these ten simple questions not only educates the homeowner on energy efficiency and the real benefits of using heating controls, but shows real customer dedication to understand how best to solve their individual issues. Once you’ve answered all of these questions with your homeowner, there will be no reason why they wouldn’t want to have you install modern heating controls in their property. So the only thing left to arrange is when you start!
[author image=”” ]David Spaven has had an eclectic career starting out as a decorator in the early 1980s before moving into carpentry and joinery. In 2001, after moving home to an area off mains gas, David applied himself to a new sector and became an OFTEC approved installer. After a decade working in the plumbing and heating industry, David continues to build his knowledge through Honeywell training courses. David’s son Rowan currently in training at York College to become a Gas Safe registered installer.[/author]