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Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 4: consumer confidence

Posted by on 13 August 2010 at 9:26 am

Anyone investing in microgeneration will need between £4,000 and £25,000 to get set up. This is significant expenditure for any household and the homeowner wants peace of mind that they are opting for the right technology at the right scale and the right people to install it.

Our survey confirmed our perception that people find it difficult to access detailed, informative, impartial and reliable information on microgeneration.

Homeowners find it hard to understand which technology they will benefit from most, because they don’t necessarily know how a home uses, conserves and wastes heat and power. They’re also concerned that the most detailed and useful information comes from microgeneration installers that they could not view as impartial because they are selling a product.

As companies in this industry establish their brands and certifying bodies such as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) become more recognisable, the information they provide should be more trusted by homeowners.

Consumer Confidence

Closely linked to the access of information about microgeneration is the confidence - or lack of confidence - consumers have in microgeneration in relation to the products and the installers.

Accreditation of products and installation companies is essential and is being delivered through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). While the value of this accreditation process is understood and appreciated within the industry, it will take time for consumers to develop the requisite trust and understanding for the MCS to deliver widespread consumer confidence in microgeneration.

A concern that we have noted is the cost of the accreditation process for both installers and products. These costs present obstacles for start-up companies and some homeowners believe the cost of accreditation is reflected in the price they pay.

This causes some consumers to opt for non-accredited products and installers. This directly contravenes what the MCS should be achieving and is pushing some homeowners away instead of towards accredited products and services. This may result in some homeowners paying for bad products, badly installed.

This is not what we want to see.

While it is likely that the MCS will help to safeguard most homeowners, the costs of accreditation must be kept to a minimum to ensure fairness for new microgeneration market entrants and affordability for homeowners.

Conclusion

This series has looked at the barriers to independent renewable energy generation and made some suggestions for how they can be resolved. Please let us know what you think too. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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