13th April 2012
No one should have been too surprised by the government’s plan to force householders to fully insulate their house before going ahead with other home improvements – such as conservatories and extensions. But there is no reason why a conservatory manufacturer or installer, or for that matter the industry as a whole, needs to roll over and play dead.
This is the third body blow the conservatory industry has received in the last few years. The second was the subsidised feed in tariff, which boosted demand for PV solar panel installations. The cost of these roof top power stations was in the region of £12,000 – similar to the cost of a mid range conservatory. The energy improvement ruling, while not exactly stealing the conservatory installer’s lunch, is another case of the government giving the renewable energy sector pole position in the queue at the home improvement buffet bar. The first body blow of course was the credit crunch, since when householders have struggled to obtain funding for home improvements.
Perhaps there is a degree of cynicism attached to punch number three. Annual sales of conservatories have halved over recent years with the market reaching saturation point. If the government was going to favour one industry over another which one would it choose: the shrinking conservatory industry of the booming renewable sector. Which one looks sexier? Which one plays better to the media? It is obvious conservatory installers are migrating across into the solar panel and loft insulation sector – what is wrong with giving the process a legislative prod?
Obviously one thing that is wrong is the damage to the conservatory industry, the loss of investment made in capital equipment and the erasing of a significant skill base. As anyone who has been following my blog for the last year will know, I believe there is an alternative. Conservatory companies have got to start looking like green energy companies. This can be done. As I write this our conservatory based energy system is pulling air into the house at 40° C, will capture enough heat to keep the house warm overnight - and has acted as a complete replacement for the central heating system over the last month. During the winter it cut fuel bills by 30%. What os more most of the technology employed is easily accessible to conservatory and secondary glazing companies.
This is a classic case of turning a problem into an opportunity and, most of all, staying relevant in a changing market. And I would be quite happy to sit down with any one of you and explain how this can be done.
Stay cosy, maintain a clear view and have a good weekend.