Energy saving in the home is sold on the premise of ‘spend now, save later’. But is this really viable?
In April 2005, John Prescott decided that all new boiler fittings had to be above 86% efficient, A or B rated condensing boilers. The first issue that consumers take with this is that the old-style boilers cost an average of £2000 to purchase and install. They are expensive, and cost a ludicrous amount of money that us proles are loath to part with.
So the news that condensing boilers cost on average £500 more than their outdated counterparts has ruffled a few feathers already. But can we justify this amount by shielding ourselves behind the green argument? Research into the attitudes towards these new contraptions suggests that we can’t.
In the same year as the legislation was introduced, The Guardian questioned Jobs & Money readers on their experiences of the new boilers. The general consensus was that because the technology is new and complex, it is more prone to breaking down and needing servicing. Some consumers with the new boiler types also complained that the majority of servicing companies refused to come out and repair the boilers because they require so much more work than the old style ones.
Some plumbing firms have suggested that the new boilers’ CO2 offset is laughable when compared to the emissions from servicing vehicles being called out so frequently. One interviewee said he hasn’t even bothered to check if he’s saved on his gas bill since installing his condensing boiler, because so much has been spent on servicing and installation that any saving would be, in his own words, a “Pyrrhic victory”.
My question to Messrs Brown and Prescott would be this; if the boilers are so green, why aren’t they subsidised? If the government wants to get serious about climate change, why can’t it offer the common man a chance to make a difference without asking him to bankrupt himself in the process? This doesn’t just apply to boilers, but to expensive-to-buy recycled products, hybrid cars…the list goes on. I have never received a satisfactory answer to this question, and I don’t believe that I ever will.
In essence, the real reason people do as they are told with regards to the government’s masterplans (and let’s face it, they always work, don’t they?) is because they feel better about themselves having done something to help save the planet. Either that or because it’s the law, and the law is always right.
I get the feeling that, as suggested in a comment on my last blog, PR has a lot to do with the green movement. The amount of difference that we as consumers can make to the environment pales in significance to what the government should be doing in terms of tightening rules on big corporations pumping black smoke into the air. And yet we are the ones scaremongered into believing that the fate of the earth is in our hands.
And all the while the government looks as though they are doing something about the alleged crisis, playing the knight in shining armour role. I use the term alleged, because I recently discovered (amongst all the pre-apocalyptic climate disaster hype) that the Earth’s average temperature has risen less than 1 degree Farenheit (0.6 Celcius) in the last 150 years. Coupled with the fact that we’ve only been recording average temperatures for the last 150 years, and that the Earth has successfully completed many millions of laps around the sun in the past, I wonder if this fluctuation is really all that conclusive in the grand scheme of things.
Thousands of years ago, we knew the sun revolved around the Earth. A few hundred years ago, we knew the earth was flat. Some of you may remember claims in the 70’s of an impending ice age. Of course, the scientific community now distances itself from this theory. Now we know the planet is doomed because of greenhouse emissions; we are told every day by firms and mediums that stand to profit from delivering this news. The point I’m making is simple: sometimes even the world’s most intelligent and scholarly men can be wrong, and an admission of this would go a long way towards reassuring us that we’re not so reckless and evil as to have etched in stone the ugly demise of our home planet.
Could it be possible that maybe, just maybe, the tiniest bit of exaggeration and hysteria has been employed tactically in order to increase public spending and create more jobs within the public sector? Surely the world’s leaders wouldn’t be so underhand and unfair?
Because that’s the British way.
As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.