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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

I had a really useful discussion with colleagues at Baxi this week, around the need for long term energy efficiency improvements in the home. I was taken by a term they used, "Zombie boilers", for older, less efficient appliances that simply won't die and the homeowner won't replace it until it does - costing them money each year, and wasting energy, whilst emitting unnecessary levels of carbon into the atmosphere.

So what do we do with the Zombie boilers out there - all 10 million of them? Given the abundance of evidence out there that credits the condensing boiler with bringing about marked and permanent reductions in energy use and carbon emissions - surely the obvious response is to encourage (carrot and/or stick) their replacement. But the upfront cost of replacing a working boiler does put people off - we can't ignore that. So a subsidy scheme (boiler scrappage voucher) or incentivised market scheme (interest free loans) seem the best ways forward. Honest and credible information for homeowners will be key, so they can trust the evidence we in the industry believe in.

I'd also offer up the old adage - Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). The tendency of government officials is to devise any scheme so complex that it cannot be abused, and in doing so they inadvertently create the environment for some sharp practice to "get around the rules". KISS would make any scheme open for a greater number of participants, increasing the likelihood of getting the right results. Think how simple the boiler scrappage scheme was compared to Green Deal. Engaging more installers rather than just a small number achieved the desired outcome without the risk of abuse. Come on DECC, KISS to get rid of the Zombies!

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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