Phoenix Natural Gas has welcomed the announcement from Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland that his Department is to provide funding for a £12million boiler replacement scheme to improve energy efficiency in 16,000 homes across Northern Ireland.
Phoenix and the wider gas industry have campaigned for the introduction of such a scheme since January 2010 when a UK boiler scrappage scheme was launched by the Government that included England and Wales, but excluded Northern Ireland.
Phoenix has continued to operate a relatively small privately funded boiler scrappage scheme of their own for the last 3 years and it has consistently been oversubscribed. A larger scheme like the one announced this week has real potential to substantially reduce the amount of energy properties are using, to cut energy bills and to lower domestic CO2 emissions. A-rated high efficiency boilers are around 90% per cent efficient and to put this into context many homes, irrespective of what fuel they use, are persisting with old costly boilers that can be as low as 60 per cent efficient. In these cases for every £1,000 a householder spends on fuel, around £400 of that spend is being lost straight away.
Alastair Pollock, Business Development Director at Phoenix Natural Gas, said:
“We welcome this great news as for a long time there has been a strong argument that a government funded boiler scrappage scheme is needed most in Northern Ireland due to the high levels of fuel poverty we have here and the continued reliance in many areas on heating oil. Also this scheme will provide added employment and trade to the many independent boiler installation and maintenance companies operating locally. Householders should register for this grant as soon as possible so that they are able to take advantage of it in time for winter. Whilst the final details of the scheme are yet to be released, it is vitally important that the administration of it is kept as simple and straightforward as possible”.
The NI Natural Gas Association (NINGA) who represent companies working in the local natural gas industry, including installation companies, merchants and manufacturers have also welcomed the news of the government funded initiative.
Spokesperson John Miskelly said:
“This will be a big boost for gas installers and of course householders who have old inefficient heating systems and who may have been thinking of upgrading for some time. So many homes that installation companies visit have very poorly installed, poorly maintained and poorly controlled heating systems that are simply not sustainable in these tough economic times”.