Finding an installer
The Energy Saving Trust strongly recommends that you choose a certified system and a certified installer.
For advice on certified products and installers available in your area:
- call your nearest Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800 512 012
- find a certified installer at the MCS site
- look for an installer or supplier signed up to an industry code of practice
- speak to people in your area who have had systems installed and ask if they would recommend their installer.
Beware of heavy-handed sales techniques, such as pressure to sign on the day, high prices with large discounts for signing on the spot, or bogus monitoring scheme discounts. (All MCS-certified installers agree to a code of conduct that bans high-pressure selling techniques - the REAL Assurance Scheme .)
All installers or suppliers should be able to provide a detailed breakdown of the specification and costs of their proposed system. They should also be able to:
- explain how they have calculated the size of the system to be appropriate for your needs
- supply clear, easy to understand information and operating instructions
- explain what you will need to do to maintain your system
- provide an estimate of how much heat or electricity will be generated by any proposed systems, and what proportion this is of your current needs.
Get at least three installers to specify and cost some potential options for you. Use the checklist below to help you choose an installer:
Pick a supplier with experience. Ask them how long they have been in business, and how many years they have been installing systems for.
Choose local where possible. Ask for a list of references and local installations and check them.
Check any professional credentials being quoted. Many competent and experienced installers may not have any relevant professional qualifications, so ask if they are a member of a trade organisation - if so, find out from the association their membership criteria.
Get lots of information on system options and potential problems so you talk confidently to installers. Ask for:
- recent manuals and brochures
- any background information and test data.
Ask about what happens once the system is installed. Get details of:
- after-installation services offered
- warranties - all installers should provide a minimum one-year warranty on the installation
- what the warranties cover and over what time periods.
Do not compare installers on cost alone: the cheapest may not be the most appropriate.
Check quotations for detail. Ask about:
- government incentives – will the system be eligible for Feed-In Tariffs or Renewable Heat Incentive payments?
- payment options
- what is included – prices should cover safe removal and disposal of any existing equipment; is the price of any drilling or trenching included?
For heating systems, ask whether the cost of integration with your home's heating system - or a proposed heating system - is included.
For wood-fuelled heating, ask about:
- details on available options, for example, size, fuel type and availability of hot water storage
- appliance capacity and whether it will supply all your space and water heating needs
- fuel storage capacity and how often you will need deliveries in winter
- how much you will need to do to fuel and operate the system
- independent testing of appliances to verify any stated efficiencies
- applicable regulations, for example, smoke free zones, health and safety, ventilation guidelines and how they will address them
- whether they are also able to supply fuel or are able to recommend a supplier.
For heat pumps, ask:
- for details on available options e.g. size, pipe requirements and maintenance cycles
- about system efficiency of the installation (not the CoP of the heat pump) and how it has been calculated. Generally, the higher the figure, the better but only if correctly calculated
- if the company will project manage the whole job and coordinate the drilling/ trenching. This is very important indeed. It will make the process much easier for you but it will also help to deliver a properly matched and balanced system that will operate at a higher efficiency.
- if the company will liaise directly with the installers of any new heating system such as under floor heating. It is critically important that these two systems are designed with each other in mind
- for information on applicable regulations, including health and safety guidelines and how they will address them
- about independent testing of their system to verify any stated efficiencies. There is a recognised testing and certification system for heat pump technology. If these tests have been carried out ask for a copy of the full report.