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Check you are eligible for RHI before installing renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2013 at 10:10 am

The renewable heat premium payments (RHPP) for biomass boilers and heat pumps are only available for properties that are off the mains gas network. Until the announcement on the full domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) is made this summer we won't know if this will also be the case for the full incentive. Yet it appears that some installers are quoting for installations, and not informing customers that they are not eligible for one or the other or both, as the story below from Martin Dell illustrates.

Our advice to consumers is buyer beware. If you are eligible for the RHPP, you are likely to be eligible for the RHI too. But there is an element of risk in going ahead before the final rules are made public. If you are on mains gas, and your installation is dependent on getting the RHI, then you definitely should wait and see.

Martin writes: 

We're about to refurbish our house and install a new heating system. We looked at air source heat pumps a while ago as an alternative to a gas boiler, but the savings were minimal, and the payback period was in the region of 20 years.

With the revamped RHI payments due to be announced this summer, we recently took another look at heat pumps. With 20 years of RHI payments crammed into 7 years, an air source heat pump appeared to offer a compelling payback period of under 5 years, plus fuel and CO2 savings. We received quotes from two MCS registered installers which confirmed this.

However, I noticed this statement on the Energy Savings Trust's website: "If you have recently removed a mains gas heating system or currently heat your home with mains gas, you are only eligible to apply for solar thermal"  I spoke with the Energy Savings Trust and with Parity Projects which carried out an energy assessment of our home. Both conformed that neither RHP nor RHI payments are applicable when a house is, or has recently been, on the mains gas network. Without these payments, an air source heat pump does not offer us compelling savings compared to installing a modern gas boiler.

My reason for contacting YouGen is that neither installer that we contacted mentioned this at all. They both happily quoted the current RHP payment of £1,300 and projected RHI payments of between £2,000 and £3,000 annually for 7 years. Neither installer mentioned that these payments would not apply to a house connected to the gas mains - or one recently disconnected from that supply. I suspect that many people are being misled by installers, and heat pumps are being installed because of this faulty payback calculation. I hope YouGen can help make people aware of this fraudulent selling technique.

More information about air source heat pumps on YouGen

The YouGen guide to heat pumps

The YouGen guide to the renewable heat incentive

Risks identified for buyers of heat pumps

Which is the best heat pump

Photo credit: Lari Saukkonen



If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one

Prescient Power Ltd

Prescient Power LtdComment left on: 11 July 2013 at 7:51 pm

Another great post Cathy.  The constant evolution in regulations and incentives does indeed take a big effort to keep on top of and installers have got to appreciate this is also part of their service, not just keeping up to date with technical regulations.  

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