To say that Halton Housing has embraced digital is a little like saying say Adele’s a bit of a singer. For the past five years this not for profit housing association has operated a digital policy that leaves many progressive companies in the shade. Much of this is thanks to its Chief Executive Officer, Nick Atkin, whose enthusiasm for digital technology has led to him being named one of the leading digital power players in UK housing in 2017. The introduction of mobile working, for example, ensures front line staff can access vital information in real time, allowing them to effectively deal with any issues that arise from home visits or customer feedback; all van stock is automatically re-ordered and stock condition surveys/block inspections completed electronically; the offices are paperless and everyone hot desks; flexible working is encouraged, which saves travelling time, improves employee satisfaction and retention rates; all staff have two devices to work from and communication is moving away from traditional email to Yammer, Skype and Facetime. But the digital drive doesn’t stop there, Halton Housing has also launched a multi-functional app so customers can more accurately access services and make appointments. Its long term target is to get 90% of its customers online by 2018. So far 85% are using the Internet compared with only 17% in 2014, which means that target’s clearly in view.
Intergas was right up their digital street
Last year, when Halton Housing’s Compliance Manager, Colin Knox, learned about the Intergas
Eco RF and its built-in Remote Management system, a system that enables the boiler to communicate wirelessly with the contractor, he realised this boiler was right up their digital street. You see, although it is a leading housing provider and owns and manages over 7,000 homes across the North West, it is also engaged in a new build programme and, as you would expect from this company, these new homes are anything but traditional. A proportion are smart houses: pre-built, pre-clad with windows and doors in situ and lowered into place. They are so well insulated, heating costs are minimal, but smart boilers are a must. And Knox was interested in using the Eco RF in the programme.
“This Eco RF combines everything Halton Housing is looking for in a boiler,” said Knox. “First, it’s incredibly robust and only has 12 components in total, so it’s going to be more reliable than some of the brands we’ve used in the past, and that will save us a lot of money in servicing and maintenance costs. As the hot water is served by a separate circuit, should the pump fail, the system will always deliver hot water too. But then it has this software built in to boiler that reports faults via email, provides usage reports, monitors boiler performance and provides an additional layer of care to the elderly. Now we can use live data to be more predictive, rather than reactive, and head off problems before they become one. I had to ask myself ‘what’s the catch?’ but there doesn’t appear to be one. I visited other housing providers where this system is already in operation, and decided to trial it in four of our new houses. Now the Intergas Eco RF will be one of the boilers we’ll be installing in our new build.”
But it’s not only new build. The boiler’s energy efficiency makes it the ideal choice for Halton Housing’s retrofits too. Unlike other condensing boilers in the UK, the Intergas boiler condenses 100% of the time in heating and hot water modes. And, because it only has one heat exchanger, it takes a shorter amount of time to reach the required temperature, typically reducing carbon emissions by 20% and shaving a further 5% off energy bills over other condensing boilers. Retrofits in Halton Housing’s existing housing stock currently amount to approximately 150-200 boilers a year but, as this digital relationship is built on delivering exceptional performance, both Halton Housing and Intergas are looking forward to a long-lasting one.