2022 looks set to be a big year for the heating and plumbing sector. With new technologies emerging all the time, there are many exciting opportunities for homeowners to upgrade their heating and plumbing appliances to cut their fuel bills and make big long-term savings. A recent article on the site Builders’ Merchants News looked at some of the major developments that have been occurring in the plumbing and heating sector. Read on to find out what’s in store for the heating and plumbing sector in 2022 and beyond.
“Anything can happen”
The article saw RWC Marketing Director John Kerr answering a series of questions about the current state of the industry. Kerr said the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic had shown us that “anything can happen” within the sector. He said COVID came along just as professionals in the industry were “getting (their) heads around Brexit. Recent activity in the electricity market has resulted in vastly inflated fuel bills for customers across the UK and has hit the industry “hard in the pocket”, according to Kerr. He also says companies and organisations in the industry are also under increasing pressure to cut greenhouse gases and react to climate change in a positive manner.
Kerr says the energy industry has a great deal of work to do over the coming years. The Government has set aside more than £100 billion for construction projects over the next decade alongside its “ambitious” home building targets. He also predicts that the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive will deliver a substantial amount of work for energy professionals, with homeowners around the country seeking to enhance the energy efficiency of their homes. According to Kerr, rising energy costs mean they must be able to do this.
Climate change and net-zero
Kerr says climate change will continue to have an impact on the industry for many years to come. There is an ever-growing need to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases as the country aims to reach net-zero by 2050. He says there was “very little in the way of real policy” in 2021 despite the amount of discussion around new legislation and action plans. However, he expects things to change remarkably from the summer when the Part L uplift gets underway. Plan L is the first of several steps to be taken towards ‘The Future Homes Standard’, which is set to take effect in 2025. From this point, new homes will need to have 75% fewer CO2 emissions as they currently do. This year’s uplift is being regarded as an “interim target”. Kerr says this marks the “beginning of the end” for gas and oil-fired boilers as the public make the move towards more modern and energy-efficient heating equipment.
Moving on from gas
23 million UK homes still have gas boilers, but these will need to be replaced at some point. Hydrogen has frequently been promoted as an alternative, although hydrogen boilers aren’t yet in mass production. The Government wants to reach 5GW or low carbon production by the end of the decade, but it’s not yet been decided whether homeowners will be able to install hydrogen-only boilers by 2026. Kerr says there is growing interest in heat pumps, which the Government have been particularly enthusiastic about in recent years, having featured prominently in the 2021 Heat and Buildings Strategy.
Could heat pumps be the solution?
There is a target of up to 60,000 heat pumps each year by 2028. However, one drawback for those considering purchasing heat pumps is they can be costly to install. They can be up to four times pricier than gas boilers before EPC Band E and lower insulation costs are considered. The Government has promised that heat pump installation costs will fall by 50% over the coming years. However, these costs will remain out of reach for many households even at the proposed new rates.
Other home heating solutions energy specialists predict will rise in popularity include underfloor heating and IR radiators. The benefits of these solutions include programmability. There is an increased demand for solutions that give the public more control over operation and enable them to cut their energy costs. Wireless thermostatic radiator valves are also becoming more popular due to the way they give people more control over specific parts of their homes.
Home energy management
Kerr expects to see most homeowners opt for a blend of home energy management solutions until they’re able to rely on one unified system. A Delta-EE report suggested home energy management is set to grow by around 30% over the next half-decade as people seek out more control over their bills.
There has also been a substantial surge in home improvements over recent years, particularly since the first lockdown got underway. GoodMove research found that almost half of all households were involved in at least one home improvement project in 2021. Loft extensions were particularly popular, as were improvements to bathrooms and kitchens. It’s expected that home improvement projects that don’t require specialist tools will become particularly common over the coming years.
The rise of push-fit
Push-fit projects are becoming particularly popular amongst homeowners as they require no specialist tools. It’s often been said that push-fit could help slow down or even reverse the declining numbers of people entering the plumbing and heating sector. There are worries that there could be fewer than 133,000 installers by the year 2024 if modern trends continue. The sector certainly needs to improve recruitment numbers over future decades if the 2050 net-zero target is to be achieved. There is growing pressure on the industry to develop simpler, more efficient solutions, and push-fit certainly seems to meet these requirements.
At Ability, we are ready to hear from you if you need help with any household plumbing or heating project. You can reach us today by using the form on the website or by giving us a call on 01892 514495. Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.