SELECT says installer competence is paramount in any new heating standards

SELECT says the Scottish Government needs to set minimum standards of competence for installers as well as installations as it seeks to implement new domestic heating standards.

The association also says that any new plans also have to take into account the capacity of the energy network as the demand for more electrically-driven technologies and basic infrastructure grows.

SELECT’s warnings came as it responded to a recent Scottish Government consultation into proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill, which plans to introduce a law requiring homeowners to ensure their homes meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2033.

The body said that while it agrees in general with the proposal to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems in all buildings by 2045, care was needed that advantage was not taken of vulnerable people and that the increased cost of energy was taken into consideration.

In its response, SELECT said: “We have seen several  government projects run  into problems as they often leave the door open for unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the government's own messaging as a way of convincing people that work is required when often it is not.

“Any demands for work  needs to be set in the context of availability of energy supply, material supply and labour. Added to that is the increased cost of energy – the differential between gas and electric costs.”

The association added: “It is also vital that the Scottish Government legislates to ensure installations are only undertaken by properly qualified, trained and competent persons. This is as important as any other measure.”

SELECT also warned that poorer households may be less likely to install new low-carbon heating technology, since the cost of undertaking such work will be significant, particularly when the age of Scotland's housing stock is taken into account.

Its response noted: “To get by, homeowners may take ‘sticking plaster’ actions. For instance, if a house is in a city centre, a flat or in a conservation area, then owners may take easy solutions and not, perhaps, the best solution.”

SELECT is now recommending that:

  • Properties should be considered compliant once they have installed  the measures appropriate for the building type
  • Bio energy should be permitted for those buildings already using it, and
  • There should be a grace period of five years to end the use of polluting energy following a property purchase.

Its response added: “The requirement to end the use of polluting heating following a property purchase will penalise those in older properties and especially those in our society less able to pay for measures such as the disabled or elderly.

“They often have asset wealth but not  cash wealth, so selling their home to, say, downsize may penalise them if purchasers are either put off from buying or are told they can only buy with a mortgage at a higher rate.”

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, said: “In this consultation, we are suggesting that while we support the general aim to move towards net zero, we must be careful about the danger of unintended consequences.

“Owners of properties that may find it difficult to improve their energy efficiency, particularly in buildings in areas where there are constraints to the electricity network, may be forced to install systems that are expensive or unsuitable to run.

“I know a number of local authorities that are already divesting themselves of building assets that will need considerable sums spent on them. This is already having an unintended consequence of depriving areas of meeting and events halls.”

The Scottish Government consultation – which closed on 8 March – sought views on proposed new laws around the use of heating systems in homes and businesses that would:

  • Reconfirm that the use of polluting heating systems will be prohibited after 2045
  • Require those purchasing a home or business premises to end their use of polluting heating systems within a fixed period following completion of the sale
  • Introduce a new law that will require homeowners to make sure that their homes meet a reasonable minimum energy efficiency standard by 2033
  • Require private landlords to meet this minimum energy efficiency standard by 2028.