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Avoiding the solar cowboys.

WITH DIY superstores now stocking low cost solar heating panel installation kits, homeowners trying to cope with the prevailing high levels of energy prices are bound to be tempted.

Installing solar heating kits bought from a DIY outlet or builders merchant will be beyond the expertise of all but a minority of highly competent DIYers. So the temptation will be the 'BIY' route - buy from the superstore and get in a local tradesman to fit them.

But the Heating Helpline, a consumer advice service backed by the HVCA, the government recognised trade association for heating and ventilating engineers, warns homeowners that this can end in disaster - with too many 'rip off' rogue solar heating installers operating in the UK.

Bob Towse, technical consultant to the Heating Helpline, said: "With low cost solar heating kits now available from DIY multiples, coupled with the huge rises in household energy bills over the last two years, more and more homeowners will want to convert what has so far been purely an interest into actual action by getting solar heating installed in the home.

"But we urge homeowners to be cautious about how they go about this. Consumer Direct, the government funded advice service, has received hundreds of complaints from homeowners about their solar heating installations.

"It's clear that rogue traders are fully exploiting the rising demand for solar heating but homeowners should only use reputable, reliable tradesmen for such installations and steer well clear of the cowboy installers."

He added: "It's also worth bearing in mind that there are government grants to help with the costs of installing solar water heating technologies. But to be eligible for a grant, a homeowner should use a competent installer and certified products."

The Heating Helpline provides consumers with free, impartial advice on every aspect of home heating.

On the website, homeowners can enter their postcode to produce a list of reputable heating engineers in their chosen area. For more information visit www.heatinghelpline.

org.uk or call 0800 840 4069.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 7, 2010
Words:334
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