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When it comes to helping customers choose and use heating appliances, wood biomass and other solid fuels that are safe, efficient and environmentally responsible, HETAS can play a supporting role – says Director Bruce Allen.
As a nation we have a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Last year, the government also published its Clean Air Strategy, outlining a range of solutions to tackle air pollution, along with the proposed Environment Bill. Now that the general election is done, it is likely that the Bill will move forward with the aim to create legislation that removes the option of buying wet wood (except in larger volumes) and limit the sale of appliances to those which burn most cleanly.
All of this has brought intense scrutiny on the industry, particularly on the use of wood burning stoves and burning practices within the home. This is where installers have a critical role to play in reassuring customers and encouraging best practice that will, over time, reduce environmental impact.
Despite the increased popularity of wood burning stoves in recent years, these are undoubtedly testing times for our industry as a whole and as a result, the supporting role that HETAS plays in providing advice and guidance has never been more critical, or in demand.
HETAS is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for driving the highest standards of fuel, appliances and people throughout the solid fuel heating industry. Most importantly, we provide an independent and impartial voice for the industry and as such have worked hard to become a trusted source of information for installers, chimney sweeps, consumers, industry, government and policymakers.
As a trusted mark of quality, we receive thousands of calls to our consumer support helpline and around 60,000 visits to our website every month. In fact, the number of people who sought advice and guidance from HETAS last year increased by 273% on 2018. As a result, we’re able to help more people make informed choices and drive the use of qualified HETAS Approved professionals for installations, servicing and maintenance.
We’re responsible for registering the vast majority of solid fuel, wood, and biomass installers, as well as chimney sweeps, service engineers and retailers. We also work with manufacturers and testing facilities to provide a robust and respected product and appliance approvals scheme. The HETAS Approved Retailer scheme provides kudos for stove shops and showrooms. It aims to increase safety whilst promoting the reputation of good quality retailers who are recognised for offering advice and support to help consumers find the most suitable appliance for their home.
Through the provision of training and information, we help our registrants keep their knowledge up to date so they can properly advise their customers on appliance and fuel choice, correct operation and maintenance. HETAS is a UKAS Accredited Certification Body and its registered installers are trained and assessed to agreed standards, allowing them to self-certify via HETAS that their work complies with the relevant building regulations. We provide access to free technical handbooks, advice and updates, competitively priced insurance, equipment and use of the HETAS approved mark.
There are HETAS helplines for installers and trade professionals as well as consumers, and we receive constant questions about the choice of stoves, boilers, chimney systems and other equipment. There are currently a number of legal requirements for placing stoves on the market in the UK, including CE marking, future Ecodesign regulations, compliance with Building Regulations, General Product Safety Regulations and the appliance manufacturing standards.
Choosing an appliance that is backed by an independent and impartial verification scheme certainly makes life easier for those wanting to choose one of the many that are available. There will be a number of assurance schemes across the sector and all will take their place in providing reassurance for customers.
HETAS Product Approval is one of the schemes available in the UK. If a HETAS Approved Appliance has been chosen, we will be able to confirm that it is compliant with all current legal requirements and regulations like CE marking, Energy Labelling and other declarations of conformity that give confidence that the product meets UK specific requirements.
If an appliance is not on the HETAS list, it may have assurances under other schemes which may cover a distinct range – e.g. for biomass boilers suitable for RHI incentives, for batch fed wood-burning stoves, or some other more distinct category of appliance. Some of these may also be found on the HETAS website.
As we move towards full Ecodesign compliance for stoves in 2022, we recognise that consumers, installers, manufacturers, retailers, specifiers, architects and local authorities will need to rely heavily on advice from HETAS. As such, our website and search facility, as well as our printed guide, are readily available to provide advice and information: www.hetas.co.uk/find-appliance