With the rise in homeowner demand for smart controls, is it beneficial for heating installers to offer this service and if so how? Peter Northwood, director at HomeServe Alliance, the company behind SmartInstallers.co.uk, explains why it has now become essential for installers to offer this service, if they are to achieve both immediate and future revenue growth.
Having a smart home is becoming as popular as owning a smart phone. The transformation of domestic controls, has meant they have become aspirational products in their own right, and a part of people’s lifestyles. People’s awareness of smart heating controls has increased rapidly of late, especially due to the increasing number of TV and radio advertising campaigns to promote smart heating controls.
Research from smartinstallers.co.uk, HomeServe’s installer hub for smart thermostats, has uncovered that one in three Brits agree smart thermostats are the future. Consumers recognise that having an ‘intelligent’ home allows them to reduce energy consumption, save money (1 in 3 believe smart thermostats are the best option for managing heating bills), and in time will ensure that their home becomes smarter, allowing them to take control back in the home. Smart thermostats even have technology that recognises when the homeowner is leaving the house, and is able to adjust the heating accordingly, saving the homeowner significant amounts of money.
So cost savings for consumers, but how does the installer benefit? By responding to this customer demand, not only are Installers giving customers what they want (recent figures show that 24% of people didn’t know who to ask or where to go to get a smart thermostat installed, despite wanting one), they are also providing themselves with an additional, solid revenue stream and are more likely to convert boiler quotes into installations.
Smart Installers ran a four month trial with a group of installers to see whether the smart controls were easy to sell and whether there was an interest from customers. During the trial, an impressive 60% of customers who bought a new boiler also wanted a smart thermostat installed. This surpassed expectations and showed that there was a clear demand for the product. When you consider the low cost investment, rapid payback and the no-mess convenience of a quick and simple wireless installation, it’s a real win for registered gas engineers as well as customers.
So what is stopping Installers from offering this service? Many are positive about smart homes and enthusiastic to capitalise on this growing market, having been approached by their customers about ‘smart’ and remote controlled technologies. However, as an independent heating installer, the lack of information on smart thermostat technology and the best products to offer customers can be a stumbling block.
It is in response to this consumer demand, and installer hesitation, that initiatives such as The Smart Installer Club have been launched. By providing independent installers with access to sales support, discounted products, and expert training they are able to sell the smart technology effectively to their customers. Highlighting the benefits to customers is key; ease of use, remote control functionality, the insight into energy consumption and up to a 31% saving on household energy bills.
The industry has changed a great deal over the last 40 years and smart thermostats are bringing heating into the technologically advanced world we live in today. The possibilities in the home are endless with the development of apps that allow you to do simple everyday tasks remotely. Putting the kettle on without getting out of bed, recording TV via your phone or managing your remotely controlling your lighting. Consumers expect the availability of apps for everyday activities and the heating industry is no different.
It has never been more important for installers to keep up with this change, and capitalise while the market is still young. Heating is no longer a standalone system, it can now form part of the connected home. As one installer said ‘this industry has just been pipes and boilers for the past 40 years; this brings us into the 21st century.’ And with more than 150,000 units already installed by some of the national operators, it is not surprising that many local independent installers are eager for the tools and training they need to take advantage of this growing opportunity.
After all, it won’t be long before those who can’t offer it are unable to compete.