Bruce Allen’s Insight | August 2022

Welcome to my insight to the August 2022 HETAS monthly newsletter.

Once again, we are seeing wood burning stoves in the press. This time round we find stoves being touted as a solution to the current energy crisis and ever-increasing home heating costs.  

An ever-growing number of people are looking at stoves as an option to help combat increasing costs. We all know it is important that these people make the right choices when selecting their stove and having it installed in the right way. This month has seen a significant increase in searches across the new HETAS website. Sessions are up 50% and some searches have more than doubled on the same time last year. We continue our marketing and communications activities to promote our registered and trusted businesses. I hope the increased interest is being reflected in new business for you.  

At the same time as this spike in interest, we continue to work with government and other organisations to ensure that wood/biomass burning remains part of a workable solution in moving towards net zero; also using the right fuel in the right appliance can support efforts to improve air quality. Over the last year we have introduced the HETAS biomass maintenance scheme to align to new RHI legislation and launched the Cleaner Choice product approval scheme is attracting a growing number of manufacturers wanting to demonstrate the environmental benefits of their products. We continue to work together for a cleaner, safer environment. 

The annual Chimney Fire Safety Week campaign starts next week and usually marks an early start to the heating season. It is pleasing to see the number of chimney fires reducing year on year, with a big decrease in the last year of 16%. It is important that we continue to raise awareness with stove and open fire users of the importance of chimney sweeping, stove maintenance, correct use, and fuel choice to further reduce instances of chimney fires and at the same time ensuring safe and efficient use of stoves. We will be sharing messages across our social media channels all week and we have produced a range of graphics, images, and videos that you can all share across the campaign. Make sure you download the resources via the website and tag us on social media too. Our messages will also be shared with our growing consumer database, driving business to you, our registered businesses.  

We must also address some of the challenges caused by global forces at the same time. BEIS is calling for views on a proposal to temporarily suspend fuel quality requirements for wood pellets under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The consultation is available here. The UK Government, in cooperation with industry, recognises that the supply of wood pellets in the UK has been affected because of the suspension of wood pellets sourced or imported from Russia and Belarus, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. HETAS and Woodsure will continue to work with government on such industry challenges. We recommend anyone involved in the biomass market to contribute to the consultation too. 

Finally, I am sure you will all join me in wishing Stephen Shepherd a very long and happy retirement. Most of you will have spoken to Steve on the helpline at some point during his nine years at HETAS. Steve has spent his working career in the plumbing and heating world and has devoted his more recent years to supporting our registrants. As an ex-installer he had shown great passion for supporting our registered businesses in navigating everyday technical challenges of building regulations and standards. Everyone at HETAS will miss him, but he leaves with our absolute best wishes for a well-earned retirement.

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