Neil Henry, director, HLA services, explains why the heating and cooling industry needs more support to encourage consumers and businesses to switch to renewable energy

The industry has come a long way since I started out 33 years ago, in terms of sustainability. However, the current speed of change to renewables is nowhere near good enough, if the industry is to play its role in helping the UK reach net zero by 2050.

HLA welcomes all moves towards societal and business change in energy consumption from fossil fuels, to renewables. We are champions of the switch and desire it at a far quicker rate than current. The truth, is that all businesses, no matter the sector, depend upon the transformation of current infrastructure and business models, to support the future of our planet, in order to sustain profitability, long-term.

The barrier that heating and cooling businesses face, is not a lack of desire to shift towards renewables but the lack of current consumer demand. The ongoing battle between the shift to green energy and price, is one we cannot get past without more government incentives. When green technologies are so much more costly, it becomes a nice to do for those who have significant income. The reality, is that most people live to a budget and most businesses will not consider the shift until current machinery reaches the end of its life cycle, no matter if they are aware of long-term savings to be made by increasing efficiencies.

At HLA, we have taken internal steps towards negating emissions from our operations and continue to monitor for opportunities to increase this. We have gone paperless, removed inefficient electric heaters and replaced them with air source heat pumps at our premises. Additionally, we have installed vehicle trackers to notify us who is closest to a job, use Euro 6 engines and we have recently started to switch our management fleet over to electric vehicles, with the purchase of six fully electric cars and provision of charging points on site. We also only offer Inverter driven air conditioning to clients and automatically spec LED lighting.

It has always been a source of great disappointment that whilst those who work with gas need certification, air conditioning systems are installed with very little policing and unless state-of-the-art and designed correctly, as is the case at HLA, they can be a huge drain on energy. This is a low-hanging fruit that needs to be addressed and rectified.

We pride ourselves on being forward-thinking and taking proactive steps to sustainability because we constantly want to do more. However, our industry needs more support in terms of incentives for businesses and consumers, so we can help them make the energy switch.

If the 2025 goal to start to phase out the use of fossil fuels domestically is to be achieved, we need to see a shift in mindset, investment in new technologies and financial incentives. This will then trigger the momentum to address the urgent need to change business operations and energy consumption.