The Benefits of Consumer Protection Schemes In The Home Improvement Sectors

Faisal Hussain, Chief Executive of HIES Consumer Code, talks to Anna Scothern, Chief Executive of the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) about the value of consumer protection schemes for renewables and home improvements as part of their #NetZeroForNothing podcast.

In recent years, partly due to the publicity from the Government to achieve net zero by 2050, consumers have become more aware of the need to contribute to reducing carbon emissions. One way of doing this is by installing energy efficient products into the home, but with so much choice, and often representing a significant investment, who do consumers choose to spend with?

HIES is a Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved Consumer Code that not only provides protection mechanisms for consumers, but also for our members. We have a robust system for vetting potential members with a significant rejection rate, which means consumers can trust in the fact their HIES-approved supplier has been vetted. And if anything goes wrong, and in life that can happen, they know they are protected and dispute resolution is available if it’s needed.

Regulations, regulations, regulations

Our members get support from the beginning, right through to an annual business health check to ensure they are compliant with all the latest code of practice. Things are always changing and in the home energy sector; you are talking about a wide range of products from solar roof tiles to heat pumps and more. We always have to be on top of the latest advice so our members can operate within the requirements and ensure they have the correct processes in place.

We have relationships with a range of stakeholders, like the NHIC, so we can find the right information and tap into resources, but the key to the process is to find things that people are not yet talking about so we can stay ahead of the game. In some cases, achieving net zero involves very new technology which will not have any consumer protection attached to it, and it is our job to write that into our code from scratch. For example, in the future it might be that if you produce your own domestic electricity, you can sell it or even give it to your neighbours. That’s an entirely new concept and a body like HIES would be involved in ensuring there are systems and processes in place that protect all parties. It’s a challenge but it means HIES members are reassured that they have a knowledge resource centre behind them, and consumers can trust in their supplier.

Anna Scothern, Chief Executive at the NHIC commented: “A fundamental way to incentivise the uptake of energy focussed home upgrades, is to ensure that wherever new technologies are installed, they are done so by competent persons and that the technologies and tradespeople have consumer protection built in. We need systems in place which support innovation but not at the cost of protection, and that is why we are proud to have members such as HIES who are going the extra mile to support and educate consumers about the best way to upgrade their home and save energy.” 

If we are to all take personal responsibility in contributing to achieving Net Zero, consumer protection schemes like HIES are key to the smooth running of the process. Improving the home improvements sector has a positive impact on climate change, and there are all things we can do to contribute. Personal and habitual changes are as important as any guidance the Government produces. The smallest changes have big impacts over time.

Listen to the full podcast here