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Selling heating systems online: the first step in the evolution from products to services

Buying a new heating appliance today typically involves finding and dealing with a local installer, as well as taking time off work to wait at home for a site survey and installation, all for a price which the customer generally does not know is competitive or not. Why not just buy online? With the internet giving customers more power and more information, is this trend finally coming to the very traditional heating sector?

New entrants like Thermondo are speeding up this slow and arduous process by doing the site survey remotely, either by asking the customer a few simple questions online or over the phone, having them upload photos of their heating system, or doing a video call. The first benefit for customers here is that they don’t have to wait very long at all to get a quotation, and they also don’t need to be at home waiting for an installer to come around and do it.

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The race to reinvent

I think I’ll get broad agreement in saying most energy companies are racing to re-invent themselves from supply to service; centralised to decentralised; volume to value. As such, new and innovative business models are emerging - challenging the very way in which transactions across the space are carried out, and revolutionising customers’ access to not only information but the range of products & services available to them. 

The need to provide customers with energy, reliably and economically, has not altered. But an ever-changing mix of drivers; from the rise of inexpensive, customer-facing technology, especially the internet and the smartphone, are at the beginning of transforming our industry forever.

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Will big utilities capture the energy storage market?

With one or two notable exceptions, energy companies have proven to excel at selling energy to customers, however they have struggled to adopt new technological oppportunities. The solar PV boom in Europe over the last decade or so has been missed by most utilities, with the market being mainly captured by installers, distributors and manufacturers. So can energy suppliers do for energy storage what they missed out on with solar PV?

Energy storage a ‘no brainer’ for energy suppliers?

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