Much has already been said about which has a greater ecological cost – running a G-rated boiler at 65% efficiency or lower; or “needlessly” replacing otherwise functional kit with newly manufactured items. It should also be noted that this really isn’t going to benefit anyone who couldn’t afford a new boiler in the first place. 400 quid is nice and all that, but it is a relatively small proportion of the cost of a new boiler, and furthermore it is paid in arrears. So unless you can fund the whole cost of the installation yourself, you are out of luck.
So I would have probably ignored the whole thing, if I hadn’t been longing to replace my old boiler since I first moved here. It is probably my least favourite feature of the house – it is situated plumb in the middle of a long wall of my kitchen, with a boxed in area (housing the pipes) covering the rest of the wall. If it wasn’t there, I could have 3 wall units in its place, which would more than double my wall storage in the kitchen. Furthermore, it is placed quite low down the wall, which means it is in the way of my top space on that side, as well.
As a result, I have juggled my priorities and phoned round to get some quotes. I decided to go for one big company – npower – and two local gas fitters.
The two local people were both very good – both of them responded and made appointments to visit within 5 days of my enquiry, both answered all my questions, and came up with some good solutions. I had asked if it would be possible to move the site of the new boiler upstairs to my bathroom, freeing up the wall in the kitchen. At the moment, the favourite scheme is to fit the boiler in my loftspace, so it will be completely out of the way!
As for n-power. I decided to give them a try, as my Google search for details of the scheme brought me onto a page promoting them. However, it gave me good information, so I didn’t begrudge them some clever marketing. Clicking through to “give me a quote”, it asked me for my postcode, then gave me a calendar for their local representative. With 3 slots a day – morning, afternoon and evening – they were already fully booked for most of the month, but I booked a morning appointment on January 29. The booking scheme was easy to use, it showed me available dates, and allowed me to choose the most convenient of these for me.
Except it didn’t. After 3 days, I got an email saying due to “very high volume of enquiries”, they would not be able to honour the appointment, and would be in contact with me when they could. This is despite that appointment being made through their own booking scheme!
Anyway, I will have the quotes from the two local guys in a day or two, so n-power can whistle for it.
Getting back to the government scheme for a moment. You first have to get a quote from the company you plan to use – you then send a copy of this off (or at least the pertinent details) and receive a coupon. When the work is done, and you get invoiced, you then send a copy of the invoice, together with the coupon, to receive the 400 pound rebate.
The coupon must be redeemed within 12 weeks of being issued – if not, it is cancelled and issued to someone else (there are 3.5 million G-rated boilers in the country, and only provision for 125,000 coupons).
Thus everyone will be trying to get the work done as soon as possible – during the remainder of January, and through February. I wonder how they will be heating the house while the work is being done, especially in this cold weather? Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to launch this scheme in the spring or summer?