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Does the Boiler Scrappage Scheme Fail the Poor?

By David Holmes on January 22, 2010

The UK Government’s Boiler Scrappage scheme was released under the guise of helping to improve energy efficiency in the home. Although there is no evidence to suggest the scheme is unable to achieve this aim, there are growing concerns that, aside from assisting the environment and lowering energy bills (at least to a certain extent), the scheme will fail to attract interest from the majority of financially ‘poor’ households.

In fact, according to one of Britain’s best known plumbers, Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers, the Boiler Scrappage scheme is likely to prove more costly over time, which is especially critical for the country’s less wealthy customers.

Approximately 125,000 were thought to be able to take part in the Boiler Scrappage scheme, which offers customers a cash incentive of £400 for replacing their older, less efficient central heating boilers (it must be G-rated – i.e. has a pilot light) with more modern and energy efficient varieties (specifically, the condensing boiler). Unfortunately, replacing conventional boiler systems with condensing boilers can sometimes prove problematic in so much as they often need to be located in a different area of the home due to regulation changes and or physical differences in plumbing requirements. This process can prove to be a logistical nightmare in many cases and usually involves greater installation costs. As such, the £400 voucher to replace an old but functional boiler at a cost ranging between £1,000 and £2,500 already constitutes a poor financial incentive to make the change.

Another concern raised by the scheme, which has so far attracted interest from 16,000 or so households in the country, is the newer, more energy efficient condensing boilers are not as reliable as the outmoded conventional models. According to Charlie Mullins, older boilers would typically last up to 15 years or longer before requiring repair or replacement. In the case of new condensing boilers, however, Mullins argues his plumbers often find themselves replacing newer models after just 3 to 6 years. As reported in the Guardian, Mullins argued that the scheme could prove to be “financial madness” for many homeowners.