Scrap or spin?
It is probably the last thing on your mind after the gloriously warm weekend we have just enjoyed, but today (24 May) is the opening day for applications to the Scottish Government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme. Which sounds great, but falls far short of what it could or even should be.
The scheme mirrors the scrappage scheme introduced in England and Wales last year. Although all the vouchers made available for that scheme were distributed, figures from the Energy Saving Trust website suggest they were not all cashed.
The idea behind the scheme is that by offering discounts for people to replace their old, in-efficient boilers; household energy bills and carbon emissions would be reduced, the heating industry would get a shot in the arm, and the Government would get the VAT from all the new boilers sold. Win, win, win!
So, as my partner and I have been discussing replacing our boiler, as it isn’t that great at heating the house or our water (I know, sort of the basic service you expect from a boiler), I thought I would look into it.
So first of all I followed the link on the BBC News story to the Energy Saving Trust website. Whilst the homepage was a little overcrowded, the link to the scrappage scheme was front and centre so I clicked again.
Despite the large Apply Now button on the next page, it turned out not to be quite that simple. I had to check if my boiler was G rated. An interesting question. As my boiler doesn’t communicate much, I looked around the EST website and saw an ‘eligibility’ button. A click on that took me to an entirely different website which did eventually tell me what rating my boiler was but it took me a while, and whilst I’m not exactly a computing expert I am pretty web literate.
Of course my boiler wasn’t G rated (it’s D rated incase you’re interested). But even if it had been, it turns out I needed a quote for installation of a new boiler from a registered heating engineer before I could apply.
Then I would have had 12 weeks from receiving the voucher to schedule the work, which I would have had to pay for upfront before re-claiming from the EST.
Now, maybe I’m under-estimating the allure of £400 towards the cost of a £2000 boiler, but I’m not convinced that much work would entice me to swap out my boiler right now. Which rather assumes that the majority of people who do claim the voucher will be those who are already buying a new boiler and their installer lets them know they can claim for the voucher. Which sort of means there won’t be quite as many new boilers bought, heating engineers employed, or additional carbon savings as we might have been led to believe.
I still stick by the idea that what we really need is a street by street programme where everyone gets given whatever they need to make their home as energy efficient as possible, and the price they pay is determined by their disposable income. That way we would truly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from housing stock, and we would find the fuel poor and improve the efficiency of their homes at a price they could afford. And all without complicated layers of bureaucracy to get us there.
In the meantime, FoES recommends Green Installers if you do want to change your boiler!