Realistic boiler prices are 'critical' to combat fuel poverty

Published:  22 May, 2012

Boiler prices are having a negative impact on fuel poverty levels, according to Ravenheat's managing director, Louis Pickersgill.

Fuel poverty statistics published last week by the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) show an alarming two-year lead time for outdated reporting on the scale of this growing phenomenon. The latest figures relate to 2010, indicating that around 4.75 million UK households were classed as fuel poor. This represents a decrease from 2009, but looks set to have risen in subsequent years as 2011 energy price increases are factored in to the equation. The reporting delays mean that the impact of planned initiatives such as the Green Deal will not be known until 2014 or later.

Despite previous government incentives, the report highlights that only 32% of households have a condensing boiler which, considering that they are mandatory for replacements and new installations, indicates that more people are repairing rather than replacing inefficient models.

Pickersgill has said he is concerned that the price of appliances is having a negative impact: “The latest figures are alarming as they point to an almost inevitable surge in the number of UK homes that cannot be heated affordably. Fuel poverty is not just about heating bills – many of those households will also be unable to justify the expense of upgrading to a condensing boiler.

“As manufacturers we need to think about responsible pricing which is affordable in capital outlay terms and cuts payback periods significantly. This would give more households access to boilers and other established energy-saving technologies that will significantly cut their bills. Condensing boilers have been compulsory since 2005 but, as an industry, we have still not been able to maximise uptake and are battling against the perception that high efficiency has to come with a premium price tag. Prices need to be aligned with the cost of ongoing repairs in order to convince more people to opt for a replacement instead.

“Based on DECC estimates, a further 3.23 million fuel poor households could benefit from a high efficiency boiler. The Green Deal and ECO should help, but with the uncertainties over how quickly they will be implemented, we need to act now. Fuel poverty has already reached crisis point and the numbers simply cannot be ignored.

“Realistic pricing creates a win-win situation for everyone, with lower heating bills for those in need, more work for installers and much needed growth in the market.”

Ravenheat has a long-standing policy of developing high-efficiency boilers which by design are both reliable and affordable. Ravenheat also offers the innovative Energycatcher passive flue gas heat recovery system, which can further reduce the cost of hot water by up to 52%.