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Interest in renewable heat is high - but price expectations are not realistic

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 April 2011 at 11:25 am

If their boiler broke down tomorrow, 85 per cent of people would consider a renewable alternative, according to our new survey by YouGen. However, the amount they are prepared to pay falls short of what most renewable heat systems actually cost.

We ran the survey following the recent announcement that the renewable heat incentive for domestic properties has been delayed until 2012. We found that while most people (82 per cent) had heard about the scheme, understanding of it varied enormously. Almost a third of respondents said they were a bit vague. Just over a quarter ‘think they understand’, and 8 per cent were totally confused. A surprising 15 per cent said they clearly understand the scheme.

Asked what would encourage them to consider a renewable energy solution to heating their home, 73 per cent ticked grants and also a desire to pay lower energy bills. Nearly as popular was ‘a guaranteed return on your investment’. Concern about increasing gas and oil prices, and a desire to reduce personal carbon emissions were also significant for two thirds of people, with half citing climate change and energy security. A lower rate of council tax would attract 59 per cent; while affordable loans was only of interest to a quarter of respondents.

The main reasons given for not considering a renewable heat option are that it is too expensive and too disruptive to install.

It's really encouraging that so many people said they would consider renewable heat options. Interest was spread quite evenly across the technologies, with solar hot water, and air source heat pumps the most popular (45 per cent, and 35 per cent would consider them, respectively). This makes sense, as they are the most affordable technologies at the moment.

I was also surprised how many people had heard about the renewable heat incentive, even though there’s work to be done in increasing people’s understanding of it.

The top two things that would encourage people to install are grants and the desire to pay lower energy bills (both 73%). This makes me wonder whether, with all the complications of measuring heat demand in domestic properties, a generous grant scheme wouldn't be a better way of incentivising heat in this sector - especially as price looks likely to be one of the main stumbling blocks to mass take up:

The 21 percent of respondents who are prepared to pay up to £2,500 will not be able to find any renewable heat system at that price. The choice is likely to be limited to solar hot water and air source heat pumps for the 30 percent prepared to pay between £2,501 and £5,000.

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jtec-energy-performance-nn46da

JTec Energy PerformanceComment left on: 11 April 2011 at 9:37 pm

"all the complications of measuring heat demand in domestic properties" - sorry Cathy, it's not complicated, you just need to get an EPC done - and the EPC will give you information about other improvements you could make at the same time - sounds good to me ;-)

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