New technologies to help heating systems transition to net zero mean that training has never been more important for installers. Gavin Edwards, Training Manager for Navien UK, discusses the importance of upskilling and why SMEs need to embrace renewables.
The drive to decarbonise heating is well underway – but it is going to be a gradual evolution rather than an overnight change.
As we all know, the Government has set 2050 as a legally binding target for net zero. With around 14% of our country’s carbon emissions generated by heating homes, we must work together as an industry to drastically reduce this statistic. While we should all recognise that this is a huge challenge, it also gives us the opportunity to make the country’s housing stock more affordable to heat.
The Government’s original plan was to phase out gas boilers in new build homes by 2025 – and ban them completely by 2033. However, in September the Prime Minister announced he was pushing back the deadline to 2035. Meanwhile, the Government increased the grant for the boiler upgrade scheme to further incentivise the adoption of technologies such as heat pumps.
Therefore, installers could be forgiven for thinking that the boiler ban delay gives them plenty of time to upskill. But the truth is, with the phase-out of gas boilers at least a decade away, there is still an appetite from property owners for higher-efficiency heating systems – 76% of homeowners polled in 2022 said that they would consider installing a heat pump if running. costs were the same as a gas boiler (BRE Research, 2022). This means heating engineers must learn how to recommend, install, and maintain the latest appliances.
Return on investment
Taking time away from your business to engage in training costs money. Boiler manufacturers like Navien will provide the training itself for free, but many still see it as time that could have been spent on billable jobs. Forward-thinking installers, however, look at training time as an investment in their future – so pick the right training and it will deliver a strong return on that investment.
And as we all know, buying a boiler is a big decision for a landlord or homeowner. Increasingly, multi-occupancy households want convenience, speed and abundance of hot water as well as energy savings. There are boilers available which can tick all these boxes, such as the NCB700 ON Combi Crossover with an ErP efficiency rating of 94% and hot water outputs of up to 54kW. But do you know enough about them to recommend them to your customers? What about smart technologies like Navien’s Smart Plus controller which enables accurate boiler monitoring and diagnosis based on live data, or ON AI, the industry’s first heating system using artificial intelligence to heat their homes and water more efficiently?
These are all technologies available now, that go beyond conventional heating systems to deliver bigger benefits for installers and their clients. They represent the next step in reducing emissions as well as improving comfort and convenience for your customers. If you don’t learn how to recommend, install and maintain these heating systems, you can bet that one of your competitors will.
Upskill for free
Face-to-face training gives you both a better theoretical and practical understanding of the latest technology. This type of hands-on experience enables you to expand your product knowledge and to talk with confidence to your clients about these boilers and associated technologies.
Navien offers in-person training at multiple locations across the UK, giving almost all installers the opportunity to attend a session local to them. The free course is designed to enable engineers to keep their skillsets up to date, in addition to informing them of recent technological and product developments. All attendees receive lunch on the day, as well as a giveaway pack to take home.
As an added incentive, installers receive 70 Navien Choice points for completing a training day, which they can either immediately exchange for a gift, or earn more points by installing Navien’s products to unlock a higher value prize. There are a number of prizes on offer such as Bose headphones and Nespresso coffee machines as well as PlayStation consoles.
Time to train
We are in a period of change, one where renewables, low carbon heating systems and alternative fuel solutions are all part of the mix. The installers who take up training opportunities and get used to learning about new products will be the ones who thrive in this environment. Don’t leave upskilling to the last minute; prepare now for the huge business opportunities that lie ahead.