Missed Opportunities Of Gas Fires

Richard Beaman, commercial director for Valor and Robinson Willey, considers how looking ‘beyond the boiler’ could help drive business for thousands of registered gas installers.

‘‘looking beyond the boiler'" could help drive business for thousands of registered gas installers.There is no doubt that gas installers, like any trade, are having to work smarter and harder to win business. Many tradesmen are still reeling from the effects of the difficult economic climate we have experienced in recent years and despite signs of improvement it can still be a tough market, particularly for the self-employed.

The secret for any installer is to identify opportunities for growth. Understand the gas appliance market, look for ways to add value to your service and make sure you are putting yourself in a position to meet consumer demand.

That is exactly why gas fires, which are easy to fit and more efficient than ever, should be a staple area for any gas fitter. Unfortunately, it seems too many in the trade today rely solely on boilers and cookers. Of the 125,000 registered gas installers in the UK, only 65,000 are registered for fires, which shows that more than half are failing to take advantage of thriving new and replacement gas fire markets.

It’s a glaring omission which is sure to mean missed opportunities - especially when many installers will already be in the property to work on other gas appliances.

Bright future for gas fires

It’s safe to say that gas fires are not what they used to be. Those homeowners – and even installers – who think of bulky, dated and inefficient fires from British Gas showrooms of the 1980s could not be further from the truth. And although there has been a surge in demand for electric fires and solid fuel fires in recent years, gas fires remain a popular choice.

The latest models from leading manufacturers like Valor and Robinson Willey are more efficient than ever before, capable of delivering heat efficiencies of up to 89% and heat outputs of 4.8kW with stylish design and impressive flame pictures. This continued product development has opened up new markets, from social housing to stylish living.

One of the biggest advantages for the installer is that whether offering removal, replacement, installation or an annual service, gas fire jobs are often quick and easy to turn around. They can be natural add-ons to bigger, more lucrative jobs such as boiler installations in new-build properties or heating system replacements in refurbishment projects. Alternatively, they can be combined with similar sized jobs such as a boiler service or commissioning a cooker hob to drive additional income.

Whatever the requirement, with 20 million homes relying on gas for their central heating and hot water, it is inevitable that other gas appliances are in the property. But only those registered for gas fires will be able to take full advantage.

Breadth of opportunities

Another reason why every gas fitter should have fires listed on the back of their ID card is the sheer breadth of installation opportunities. More than 11 million homes in the UK still have a chimney and gas point, which represents a huge refurbishment and replacement market, but improvements in technology have also opened up the market to homes without a chimney too.

Balanced flue gas fires, such as the Valor Dream which offers 84% efficiency, simply require an outside wall for installation and can offer some of the most energy efficient models on the market.

These glass-fronted fires use natural convection to draw air from outside the building for combustion through a sophisticated flue, then expel it back to the outside through a separate compartment of the flue. They are amongst the safest gas fires available and also offer unrivalled flexibility, suitable for any external wall. It’s a lucrative message to promote to any homeowner – even if they have not had a gas fire in the property before. And with 84% of homes already heated by gas, it’s often a natural progression to install a gas fire.  

Affordable warmth

Another key point to consider is that gas fires are also proving a valuable weapon in the fight against fuel poverty. Natural gas is still the lowest cost fuel supplied for the same kW usage and with up to 2.4million people living in fuel poverty in the UK, today’s gas fires combine high heat efficiencies and low running costs to deliver affordable warmth and a comforting focal point in the home.

Valor and Robinson Willey’s range opens up Of the  125,000 registered gas installers in the UK, only 65,000 are registered for fires.a host of opportunities for installers in the social housing sector in particular, where the need to curb heating bills and minimise running costs is arguably greater than ever.

It goes without saying that any contractor working with housing providers must consider the benefits of gas fires - and the glowing reputation they have in the social housing sector - to make sure they are well placed to take advantage of installation opportunities. In fact, we are working with one City Council in the South West to reinstall gas fires across their whole housing portfolio in place of electric models.

The message is clear; be registered, be ready, be more than just boilers. And don’t miss out on the opportunities presented by gas fires.

 

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