Nothing is more frustrating than spending large amounts of money on a new TV, freezer or even boiler, only to have it break down a year or two after buying it, and usually when the warranty period has just expired!
In July 2021 the government introduced the ‘Right to Repair’, which will ensure that manufacturers will produce spare parts for up to 10 years after a product has been discontinued. At the moment this legislation only applies to washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fridges and TV’s, but it is only a matter of time before it is extended to other products, including boilers, and I believe that this will be a good thing.
The boiler industry should take the advance warning of this current Right to Repair, to really rethink how it does things. Manufacturers need to start redesigning their boilers to enable repairs to be done easily and efficiently. I have always taken that approach into my designs.
For manufacturers the big challenge will be supplying the parts for up to 10 years from the end of manufacture of a model. Keeping a warehouse of old parts for 10 years will come with a massive cost implication and my fear is that the cost will be passed onto the customers and will result in more boilers being ripped out for being ‘uneconomic to repair’, all for the sake of a small part. This would basically undermine the whole idea to extend the lifetime of a product! However, it may actually force boiler makers to think smarter and really consider the quality of parts used.
I have always believed that the efficiency of a boiler is just a small part of being sustainable and reducing our carbon footprint. When the boiler industry, not just oil, has been designing boilers to a low price point, the result is cheap, low quality parts are used and need frequent replacement.
Cheap parts cost the earth – they use up resources. I’ve always ensured our boilers use high quality parts because I believe passionately that my customers understand the benefits of a longer lasting product. For manufacturers, using high quality parts could solve the problem of storing parts for 10 years, as longer lasting means fewer parts to be replaced. The Right to Repair may actually bring about a completely new way of working for many oil boiler manufacturers and that will be a good thing.
If the oil boiler industry can really rise to this challenge, and if HVO comes to be adopted as the replacement fuel for kerosene, then the oil heating industry will have a great low carbon footprint future for many years to come.