The summer is here, let’s play cricket

5th Jun 2017


It’s June, summer has officially begun, so time to talk about cricket. I love my cricket; played it until recently; an avid listener to TMS and I follow matches across the globe. And believe it or not, the home energy industry and cricket can be linked.

For like-minded readers, “typical English wickets” – a feature of our climate, suggests the best bowling attack will be seamers. Spinners may have their use, but seam bowlers are the best suited for the conditions. “Sub-continent or dry conditions” suit the spin bowler and the seamers will struggle to be effective. These “rules” have applied for generations and the heating industry gets this, but some policy makers are yet to understand the need to select the right type of bowler (or heating appliance) to suit the pitch (or house).

 We’ve done some work on the condition of housing stock in the UK (to stretch the analogy, what type of cricket pitches we have). There are over seven million homes with solid walls that will require insulation for them to become effective at conserving energy. Without the insulation, low temperature heating systems like heat pumps cease to be effective – playing a spin bowler on a seam friendly pitch.

So we looked at the economics of solid wall insulation. Our friends at the Energy Savings Trust reckon solid wall insulation can reduce bills by around 15% per annum but the weighted average cost of installing the insulation is around £17,500. Now putting to one side the desirability to reduce bills and carbon, how does the economics work? 

For someone using oil, the typical savings will be around £68 a year – suggesting a payback period of 219 years; for solid fuel a payback period of 200 years; mains gas 189 years; for LPG 123 years – even the most expensive fuel, electricity, has a payback of 75 years. As a comparison, cavity wall payback for electric is less than five years. How can I put this, “who in their right mind is going to pay for solid wall insulation”?

Back to cricket. Forcing homes to fit heat pumps, when the conditions are simply not suited and it’s too expensive to alter, is like only having seam bowlers on a spin-friendly wicket. It is going to be prohibitively expensive; wasteful frankly given the cost of the insulation they need. It simply isn’t cricket.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO