Are consumers being led up the garden path?

It’s funny how things work out! Whilst giving thought to possible topics for a blog for your weekly email, my doorbell rang. I opened the door to a reasonably dressed salesperson and whilst they did have a face mask on, my initial reaction was complete shock that in the midst of a global pandemic and our third (and arguably most severe) national lockdown, he felt that the right thing to do was go from door-to-door to flog his wares!

Pushy salesman – shock tactics

However what happened next shocked me even more, as he proceeded to tell me I haven’t claimed my grant for the cavity wall insulation that I was entitled to..!

The remainder of the conversation was perhaps more depressing than it was shocking, as it became abundantly clear that he had little idea about what the product was, how it would work, and what the implications were for the wall itself. I kindly pointed out that cavity wall insulation had been done many years ago prior to our ownership, and that the normal tell-tail signs were all over the property.

Undeterred by this, his solution (EPS insulation, not some radical new discovery) was far superior to the product that had been installed previously in my property, with little regard for why and how any carbon benefits would be lost by the removal of this perfectly good insulation. We didn’t get onto the wholistic approach to retrofit, consideration for unintended consequences, and provision for air exchange etc., we didn’t need to.

Are the lessons of the past being learnt when it comes to retrofit insulation?

Luckily I live in a sheltered location in semi-rural Cambridgeshire and my house is a long way from high risk, but what was clearly apparent during the conversation was that this poor salesperson would not have been able to determine between a high-risk and a low-risk property! This isn’t meant to be a blog knocking cavity wall insulation. I genuinely believe that there needs to be huge changes to our existing housing stock if we are to reach our carbon output goals. But what was depressing is that it would seem that lessons aren’t being learnt from the past.

Similar false promises keep coming…

I have received no end of leaflets through the post with similar promises of free boilers, cavity wall and loft insulation. This is an industry that is supposed to lead us to a greener future – yet the tactics being used to get people to buy into the products are (and should be left) firmly in the past.

However perhaps a more important point, and one I have raised before, is that we are all spending more time at home. It seems increasingly likely that for many of us this will continue for a considerable amount of time to come. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very sociable animal and miss the interaction of an office environment, but no-one can deny that the reduction in travel that as a result of the pandemic must be hugely beneficial for the planet!? We have all had to embrace technology and adapt to getting through these strange times and wouldn’t it be a shame if we all go back to the way things were before without learning any lessons?

Ensuring our homes are fit for purpose!

As I said, I believe we will all be spending more time at home so we need to ensure that these homes are fit for purpose – energy efficient and damp free.

It is for this reason that I feel that the revision to Approved Document F is a hugely important one. It is clear that the intention with that document is to prepare for greater amounts of retrofit insulation, and ensure that ventilation is not forgotten about and undertaken properly by appropriate competent people. The proposal isn’t without flaw – see my last blog, “Now things have got ridiculous!” – but hopefully it will encourage people to take ventilation in existing buildings seriously.

This blog may have been a little ranty but I guess that’s because at the PCA we have done a lot of work in the past few years to increase the understanding of retrofit insulation, and ensure that the consumer adopts the correct approach.

Our ‘knowledge hub’ can help you!

We have set up a ‘knowledge hub’ where professionals and homeowners can find out much more about the Government’s new initiative, the Green Homes Grant Scheme. For more information, click on the button below or contact us on 01480 400000.

Green Homes Grant Hub >>

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