Get the facts right

Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they can talk sense.

I’m going back onto my soapbox about the boiler scrappage scheme again.

Bear with me, but there’s been quite a lot of misinformation about it and I want to let off some steam.

I suppose that where there’s information there’s people to impart it to. And where there’s people there’s idiots.

One of the comments that came through from the Blog section on our Boiler Scrappage Information micro-site ran thus: “We have been told by a plumber the required new boilers to fit are brands Worcester and Vaillant and these cost £800 more than the one he was going to fit, a Biasi, which is also ‘A’ rated. So it doesn’t look as though there is any saving.”

What a load of tosh. Hmm, could that plumber have been trying to push Worcester and Vaillant because he might make a bit more profit on them as they tend to be the top-end brands? Maybe his local plumbers’ merchant told him that for the same reason? Or, maybe, it’s because Worcester and Vaillant have been among those manufacturers (Baxi, too) to really grab the opportunity of this scheme by the proverbial horns and make it work for them in marketing terms.

I was also really irritated to read in the Telegraph their property advice column in which a reader was advised that “the firms involved in the government’s boiler scrappage scheme” would charge him around £5,000 to upgrade his 22 year old boiler to an A graded one and that the savings could amount, at most, to £100 a year, which would take 50 years to recoup.

Again, what a load of tosh. Er, which firms are those then, that are supposedly involved in the boiler scheme? The whole reason that Mick Williams and Reheat Britain, the EST and the BMF and everyone else involved with helping DECC to get it sorted worked so hard behind the scenes was precisely to avoid a scheme where just a few companies were involved. The whole point of a voucher-based scheme is so that it gives the choice to the householder over which boiler, which plumber and which plumbers’ merchant to use. All the way through, those interviewed about the scheme have been stressing the importance of getting quotes so that the householder can make an informed choice.

The Telegraph column does have a point about reliability though. Some older boilers are more reliable than some newer boilers. Just as some older cars are more reliable than some newer cars and some older washing machines than some newer ones. But, by and large, the newer ones are more efficient, using less fuel to produce the same amount of heat. This is A Good Thing. Less fuel to get the same result means less noxious stuff going out into the atmosphere. Wherever you sit on the climate change numbers debate, this is also A Good Thing. Less Co2, not more: that’s the way we want to be going.

Nobody has to change their boiler if they don’t want to. But the point of the scheme was to give an incentive to people who are putting up with inefficient systems to do something about it.

And another thing. Don’t forget that the petition to get the scheme going was launched when we were in the middle of a very nasty recession in the construction industry (we arguably still are). One of the petition’s aims was to bring in a scheme which would boost business for plumbers, plumbers merchants and boiler manufacturers.

The EST had 400,000 enquiries in the first few weeks and have sent out 55,000 vouchers. I’d say that shows it’s struck a pretty loud chord.

There are more vouchers, there’s more business to be had and there’s even talk of extending it to other bands, if this is a success. If you need information, if you have questions from customers then look at our microsite, talk to Baxi, Worcester, Vaillant, Glow-worm…whoever your supplier is. Just make sure the information that gets out there is the right information.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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