According to new research commissioned by ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, installers and heating engineers might have a huge opportunity at their fingertips.

It seems that millions of homeowners across the UK are failing to maintain their central heating systems properly, resulting in not only a loss of efficiency but a reduced lifespan and an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat homes. Their research looked at more than 1300 homeowners across the UK, with only 55% of them confirming that they have their boiler serviced annually. One in 20 even said that they considered it an unneccesary expense!

ADEY also found that 45% of homeowners claim to have a boiler between 10 and 15 years old, with 25% who have lived in their current home for more than 15 years saying that they have never once had their boiler serviced. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) of homeowners have a problem with their central heating system, with one in 20 suffering from low heat levels. One in 10 people put up with noisy pipework in their homes – a common indicator of debris in the heating system – and 15% of people admitted they turn the thermostat up to try to fix their boiler, burning more fuel than necessary on a healthy heating system.

Consumer/environmental broadcaster Lucy Siegle said: "Boilers are the 'forgotten workhorses' of our homes. We expect them to carry on pumping away without any TLC, but homeowners need to understand that a well-maintained system costs less to run. This is where installers have a great opportunity to use their insider knowledge and help their customers counter rising energy bills by ensuring their heating systems work safely and efficiently."

ADEY’s commercial director Rebekah Howard added: "The results of our research suggest that many people don’t understand the benefits that having an annual boiler service will bring, and worryingly, just let their good old boiler in the corner keep chugging away without giving it any attention.

"The current climate presents installers with a timely opportunity to be telling customers how a well-maintained and efficient boiler can help save money on heating bills, reduce the risk of it breaking down when it’s cranked up to keep them warm, and ensure it’s safe to use. Installers can be assured that many of their customers will welcome this advice, as three quarters of homeowners surveyed wanted to know about the simple changes they can make to the central heating to reduce energy bills."

More findings from the search can be seen in the infographic below:

Via HVP Magazine

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By becoming a qualified heating engineer, you too will be able to seize this opportunity for work. Not only that, but the life of a qualified plumber/engineer is varied, challenging and pays extremely well. You'll find yourself not only with a skill you'll have for the rest of your life, but a career that's never short of new work. But before any of this can happen, you'll need that right training and qualifications. Offering plumbing and gas engineer courses as both separate and combined packages, Access Training Academies is dedicated to helping students attain their goal of becoming professionally qualified, taking those first steps toward a brand new career. To find out more about how our courses can help you, contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 and book your place today!

Organising a big home renovation project can be a really exciting thing, especially if you're already a DIY enthusiast. However it's also easy to get carried away and overestimate things, leaving you a bit stuck when it comes to actually carrying the work out. With that in mind, here is a selection of handy tips to avoid frustration and make sure you get it all right the first time.

Be realistic with your budget:

Before you start any of the work or gathering the tools and materials, it's wise to set an overall budget for your project. Try to account for everything as accurately as possible, that way you won't see that ballpark figure going up and up as the work goes on. One thing to always keep in mind is encountering unexpected issues along the way, so it might be a good idea to set aside some excess funds just in case of an emergency. Knowing your budget also makes sure you aren't getting in way too over your head either.

Don't skimp on the cost:

This might seem a little contradictory to the above, but the point here is to not settle for the cheapest materials on the market. Odds are these are the ones that won't stand the test of time, and you could find yourself having to do the work all over again sooner than you might think. Know the average price of the materials, what the best ones are to use and do a job that will be the best it possibly can.

Prepare the work properly:

For example, if you're painting a room, don't skip taping the surfaces you don't want to paint. Don't just assume you'll be 100% accurate the first time, because odds are you'll end up with paint splashes where you don't want them.

Make sure your measurements are accurate:

Avoid having unnecessary waste material, as not only is it a waste but it means you also may end up having to go out and buy more material when you didn't need it in the first place. There could even be worse repercussions to inaccurate measurements - imagine having custom kitchen cabinets made, only to find they're the wrong size when they arrive. Times like these the best advice is always "measure twice, cut once".

Use the right tools for the job:

If you're missing a tool needed for the job, don't try and improvise with a different, potentially unsuitable one. Either buy one or rent/borrow it, because not doing so goes hand in hand with our last bit of advice...

Safety ALWAYS comes first:

Even when keeping everything else in mind, this should always be your number one priority? Is your work really worth the risk of serious injury. Protection such as safety goggles, gloves and (in some cases) a hard hat should be a given, but if at ANY point you feel like you're out of your depth stop what you are doing and get a trained professional to complete the work. Even the best DIYers know their limits.

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If you have a home reburbishment in mind but lack to the skills to carry it out, or alternatively are looking into property development as a potential career path but lack the qualifications to make it happen - Access Training Academies are here to help! Offering training in various trades including electric, plumbing, gas, tiling, plastering, carpentry, brickwork and painting & decorating, you can attain the perfect skillset to cover any job properly. To find out more about our multi-skills courses and talk to one of our sales advisers, give Access a call on 0800 345 7492.

As a former All Black and Cardiff Blues rugby team captain, 36-year old Xavier Rush is someone sports fans have probably heard of. But after a successful sporting career at both domestic and international levels he’s finally hanging his boots up and moving on to the next stage of his life. Choosing to retrain to become a fully-fledged property developer, he approached Access Training Academies and recently completed our kitchen fitting course. Now he’s moving on toward even more qualifications to expand his trade resume and take on even more work.

We sat down with his to discuss his plans for the future and how he’s finding the change from a ball to a toolkit...

Now that you’ve retired, what’s next for Xavier Rush?

Now that I’ve finished my rugby career I knew I obviously needed to retrain in something. I’ve always enjoyed properties and doing them up so I’ve come here to get as many strings to my bow as possible. The more I can do the less people I’d need to get in for jobs and the less I’d need to pay out.

I first did carpentry when I was 18 and had just left school, but it’s great to have a facility so close to me and the speed at which you can build your skills up. I originally came to do kitchen fitting which I’ve completed, but there’s the Part P electrical component to it too which I’m doing now for the next two and a half weeks. After that I plan to crack on and do six weeks of plumbing as well!

How has the course been so far?

I’ve been really enjoying it and the tutors have been excellent. There’s always some things that you’re better at than others – some of the bends in the plumbing took some time to get my head around. But the more practice you have the better you get at it. You aren’t going to sail through every day – some days are worse than others but you often find once you’ve slept on it, you come back the next day and get it. It’s great to be learning new skills and really refreshing to have a change of career. A lot of people get a bit scared but I’m really looking forward to it – it’s life after rugby for me.

Will you miss the rugby life?

Of course there’s always aspects you will miss – the getting up for a big game like a Heineken Cup match, playing in front of a big crowd. I’ll miss those moments but there’s enough of them in the memory bank to call on every now and then. It’s nice to be on the other side of it now and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my career. I feel quite fortunate – it was a fairly long career and now I’m more excited about getting things started with my own business. It’s just time to move forward with life.

Look forward to more updates from Xavier Rush, who will be sharing his training experiences with us each week as he works towards his new qualifications. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about turning towards a brand new career, let us know on Twitter or Facebook and we'll pass the best ones onto him.

We could go on and on about why we feel Access Training is the best place to come for your trade qualifications, but our words don't mean anything unless the students we train can attest to the quality we aim to deliver. That's why we're going to start showcasing some of the positive feedback we've received about our range of intensive training courses, so that any of you reading that are on the fence can see that we really are dedicated to giving our candidates the best qualifications and practical trades training available. You can read more of the testimonials we've received in the past here.

After spending several years abroad, Mark Todd came home to kick start his new career on our Intensive Carpentry training course…

After leaving the Royal Marines around four years ago I got into working on maritime security on ships in East Africa. However after about 3 years I wanted to get a career back home, and I’ve always had an interest in carpentry. I’ve done a few little jobs here and there in the past but wanted to take it a bit further and get qualified.

I was originally going to go back to college but obviously that would have taken around two years to do. With Access Academies I’ve been able to come here and do the course in two months which has been so much better. I’ve come out of the course finishing on a Friday, then gone straight into a job the following Monday.

The eight weeks I’ve spent here have been excellent and I’ve really enjoyed my time. The tutors have been absolutely brilliant – I’ve learnt so much from them and they are always ready to give any advice you need. Not just with the work we do here, but if we’ve got anything else going on outside they’ll do the best they can to help which is really good of them to do off of their own backs. It really gets you raring to go – it got to the point in the last week where I just wanted to get out there and start working.

I’m about to start work with two carpenters doing some refurbishment in a nursing home. The work is ongoing, it’s local and I’ll be picking up experience from people who have been in the trade for 20 years each. Right now I still feel the need to carry on my learning. I plan to self-employed eventually but for the next six months to a year I’m just going to try and pick up as much experience as I can so I’ll be fully prepared.

- Mark Todd, Swansea

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Training Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

So you've got your qualifications and are ready to start your new life as a self-employed tradesperson. Being your own boss can mean great things like having full control over what jobs you do, what hours you work and when you can take your holidays - but there are some things you'll need to put some serious consideration toward. It's time for you to consider just how much you plan to charge for your services.

Many people will work it out from a simple calculation of hourly rate multiplied by 35 hour week multiplied by 52. However how do you come up with a reasonable hourly rate in the first place? Installer Online have come up with a list of 10 things you'll need to factor in to come up with the best price tag:

  1. Invoicing: Ask any self-employed person and they'll tell you this is a far more important part of the job than you might realise. Time spent invoicing or chasing up cash is definitely something to consider.
  2. Marketing: Word of mouth is only going to get you so far, you're going to need to come up with some sort of marketing plan. How extravagant you choose to be is entirely up to you, but either way it's going to cost money.
  3. Your skillset: So you've got the qualifications, but is that it? Will these need updating every so often? You might be alright as not many qualifications need regular top ups, but be sure to research this when starting up the business.
  4. Accounting & Tax: When you become self-employed you become responsible for paying your own tax. If book-keeping isn't your strong suit, have you thought about employing an accountant? This can prove quite costly, but there are also accounting services available which are tailored specifically to the contractor, freelancer and sole trader. They have low costs and simple online interfaces to allow you to process your own accounts. Many of these are available from a low monthly fee and not only save you time and money they can also relieve you of the stress of scribbling around to do your accounts at the last minute.
  5. Holidays: The downside of having the freedom to choose your own holidays is that you're no longer paid for that time. Including bank holidays most full time employees get around 6 weeks paid leave per year. This is the equivalent to a 12% increase in your hourly or daily rate.
  6. Insurance: Every business needs insurance. Not just that, but there's many different types you may need - public liability, business car insurance, contents insurances etc. Make sure you know exactly what you need and scout around for the best prices.
  7. Your toolkit: Again, these are going to cost money and inevitably need replacing somewhere down the line.
  8. Travel: Petrol costs are another thing you're going to have to keep in mind.
  9. Quotes: You will have to pitch and quote for work in order to generate new business. These take time and often a lot of effort and often you won’t get paid a penny unless you win the business. Although you can offset the cost of providing quotes by upping your hourly rate this will be one of the biggest areas that you will find you work on with no pay whatsoever.
  10. Premises: As your business grows, you may find that working in a spare room or out of your van simply doesn't cut it. Whether its for admin or storage purposes, any excess space you need may end up incurring additional costs.

So with those things in mind, does your initial estimate seem a little low? Installer Online advise raising it by around 30%, but you also need to be aware of just how much your customers are prepared to pay. But don't get discouraged! Although it's a lot to think about its true that tradespeople earn an impressive annual wage, and 70% of the self-employed workforce now earn over the national average of £26,093!

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

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