Longevity matters when it comes to efficiency

An ‘A’ rated condensing boiler has much to offer in terms of energy efficiency, but if it doesn’t stand the test of time, it loses some of its eco-credentials. Andrew Hounsfield of Hounsfield boilers makes the case for boilers that are built to last. 

How many times have you heard a customer say they had received a call asking, “Is your boiler over five years old? You could be entitled to a new boiler paid for by the government.” Yes, it is very commendable that the government has schemes that promote energy efficiency and support the environment. But really, a boiler that is just five years old! Most oil boilers have been 85% energy efficient for the last 30 years and now offer energy efficient ratings in the high 90s.

In the fight against climate change, energy efficiency is very important, but our modern throwaway culture is also greatly affecting emissions of carbon dioxide. All the green policies and strategies for change are based on improving energy efficiency, but nothing addresses the fact that many boilers are ending up on the scrap heap after just a few years  service – this is absurd! 

Throwaway culture

I’ve had so many conversations with plumbers and installers all bemoaning the fact that they have to throw away so many boilers because it’s simply too tricky or time consuming to repair. When old components wear out, new components cannot be easily installed, so the entire boiler needs to be taken to pieces just to get to the component. This results in a heating engineer giving customers the option of an enormous repair bill or a new boiler. Of course clients opt for the new boiler hoping it will save them money in the long run. But, this is just plain silly. Why discard a perfectly good boiler, just because one component has had its day? 

Manufacturers need to build boilers that last, not just deliver on energy efficiency. Industry trade bodies, such as OFTEC and Gas Safe, should be leading the charge to effect change, as should government. Yet why have we never seen stats on how many boilers or components are just thrown on the waste heap? 

Change can happen and it can happen quickly – alterations just need to be made on the product design. I create boilers with installers and homeowners in mind. I’m passionate about creating high quality engineering solutions to heat homes and water as cheaply and energy-efficiently as possible. I’m not interested in boosting our sales by creating boilers that are tricky to maintain – that seems nonsensical. Developing energy efficient boilers that can be easily maintained should be the starting point for all boiler manufacturers. 

Quality components 

Easy servicing and maintenance is one issue, the other is high quality components. Many boiler manufacturers are churning out product, proudly promoting their enhanced levels of energy efficiency, but sadly they’re made with low grade components that need replacing every few years. Warranties have onerous terms and conditions, often requiring the homeowner to replace certain components, such as the flexible oil line at the first annual service, and even fuel pumps are sometimes included in a long list of items that need to be replaced as a condition of the warranty. The component industry seems to be big business for many boiler manufacturers and it’s just not right. I’m not naive, I do realise that some components will experience wear and tear and will need to be replaced, but there is a lucrative industry set up to manufacture poor quality parts. This really has to stop. 

Built to last

Hounsfield Boilers are made to last and come with a no quibble five-year guarantee. How do we make them so robust? A good example of our high grade parts is the specification of the hose we use for flexible oil lines, which has a Teflon core and stainless steel braiding. It is aircraft-grade material, instead of the industry standard (rubber or thermoplastic) which we all know will degrade and require regular replacement. We continuously search and test for the very best components and although they may make the boiler slightly more expensive to buy, the return on investment for the homeowner is undeniable

The future is in our hands, and I for one have already started to campaign to government to bring about change. Our industry bodies need to also seize the opportunity and enforce change from the top down. 


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