To encourage the conversion of heating systems to renewable heat technologies, the government launched the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in April 2014.
This is an incentive administered by the energy regulator Ofgem E-Serve which provides financial assistance, helping people to make their homes more energy efficient . The RHI goes some way towards reaching the government’s target of producing 12% of the UK’s heating from renewable sources by 2020.
Renewable heat sources use naturally replenished energy rather than fossil fuels to generate heat.
Renewable heat technologies applicable to the scheme are air source and ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal technologies. Properties reliant on the live gas grid are likely to save the most on fuel bills.
Renewable heating technologies are much more effective in well insulated buildings.
Therefore, to qualify for the incentive, the property must first have a Green Deal Assessment carried out and any insulation recommended by the assessor will need to be installed.
The scheme is mainly used for single homes and can be taken up by homeowners, social and private landlords but is not available to new build properties other than self-build projects.
Payments for the hot water and heat generated are index-linked for inflation and made to the applicant quarterly for seven years. The amount received depends on the type of system installed and the size of the property.
However it can be up to 8.5p/kWh. A payment calculator developed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Scottish Government and the Energy Saving Trust can be used to work out how much is likely to be paid.
In the first seven weeks of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive opening, 1,000 installations were accredited onto the scheme. Although advertising to the general public appears to be lacking.
Most people in the best position to take up the incentive don’t seem to be aware of its existence. It is only when other work is already being carried out on a property that the architect may mention this scheme.
Is it a missed opportunity to really improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock?
Or could it be that limited funds mean that the government can only make a token effort?