British Gas launch boiler support assisted by Google

7 December 2019, 14:47   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Energy customers can use Google voice devices to access Boiler Support system to help resolve common boiler issues.

Boiler Support will help customers troubleshoot from the comfort of their own home, reducing the need for engineer call outs.

The system has been designed in conjunction with engineers to ensure the advice given is safe, clear and accurate.

Anybody experiencing boiler issues can use Boiler Support through their Google devices - they don't have to be a British Gas customer.

google home mini
Credit: Fabian Strauch/


Under the new support system, customers with a Google Home or Google Nest device can say, "Ok Google, talk to Boiler Support". This will start a dialogue with the troubleshooting system.

Customers who have the Google Assistant app on their smartphone can use that to access the service.

The Boiler Support voice system will then help customers narrow down their boiler problems and guide them through common fixes to solve the problem quickly.

British Gas say they receive 1.3 million call outs are received to boiler issues every winter and are hopeful the new system could resolve these without the need for an engineer.

Safety concerns

Boilers are complex pieces of equipment which can be extremely dangerous, so the first question asked of this technology is whether it's safe.

British Gas stress that customers will only be guided through straightforward instructions that won't damage the boiler.

They say British Gas engineers have taken the lead in developing the system, working to ensure the guidance given is safe, clear and accurate.

They also concede that there will still be occasions where a Gas Safe registered engineer will be required to come out to a customer's home to resolve the problem.

While this could easily be viewed as a cost cutting exercise by British Gas, it's worth remembering that many heating and hot water issues are straightforward to resolve and take engineers very little time once they're onsite at a customer's property.

For customers, waiting in for an engineer appointment can be inconvenient, and boiler issues in winter are especially problematic if an appointment isn't as rapid as they would like.

So, enabling customers to address small problems themselves is a positive step, although only time will tell whether customers are happy with the advice given and whether it saves British Gas time and money on unnecessary call outs.

It's also likely many of the most vulnerable energy customers will not access these services as many are elderly or don't use the internet.

Voice future

Boiler Support from British Gas is the latest innovation using voice activated technology, marking a step forward in how the technology is used.

Earlier this year, Octopus Energy announced a partnership with Amazon which allowed customers on their Agile Octopus tariff to access real time pricing information via Alexa.

In the banking sector, NatWest launched trials with Google Home in August to offer voice banking basic queries such as balance enquiries. It didn't include anything transactional such as payments and transfers.

However, security remains an issue whenever voice activated technology or, indeed, smart home technology more generally is discussed.

A consultation was announced by the Digital Minister in May on proposals to introduce a new labelling scheme for smart home technology amid concerns about security vulnerabilities within homes using smart items like Google Home or Amazon Echo.

The consultation ran until June but the results are not yet known.

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