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Green deal reports and renewable heat incentive: a personal journey

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 29 April 2014 at 1:07 pm

If you’re getting a green deal assessment for the purposes of claiming government incentives for your renewable heat system, make sure you have the minimum levels of insulation required first.

Unless you’re planning to use a green deal loan to fund the work, or hoping you might qualify for cashback towards it, not having the minimum levels of insulation in place could mean you end up paying for a second assessment once the work is done.

That was the first lesson I learnt – to my chagrin – when I had my green deal assessment this week.

I’m primarily getting the assessment so that I can claim the renewable heat incentive (RHI) for my air source heat pump. But I will also be interested to find out what else the resulting green deal report might recommend for my home.

In order to qualify for the renewable heat incentive (RHI), your home must have cavity wall insulation and 250mm of loft insulation, where possible. Unfortunately, due to some rather injudiciously placed storage boxes, my loft insulation has been squashed and is, in places, no longer at the required minimum level.

Since my assessor was a stickler – as of course they should all be – he said he could only record my loft as having 150mm of insulation. My green deal report would therefore recommend topping up of loft insulation and until that was done, I would not qualify for RHI.

Lucky for me, my assessor, who hails from the Green Deal Advisor Association, was an exceptionally reasonable chap, who offered to come back and inspect for free once I’d bumped up my loft insulation. But as he warned not all assessors would be so understanding.

And when you’re paying £150-£250 or more per assessment, it’s probably worth making sure you have everything in place first.

I will have to wait until I get my report to find out exactly what my home’s energy rating is and what the green deal recommends, but I’m not holding my breath: among the other things I Iearnt during the assessment was the fact that apparently the assessment procedure doesn’t really work that well for chalet bungalows – or so-called room-in-roof houses – such as mine.

The green deal report is generated when your green deal assessor inputs your home’s data – property type, property dimensions, evidence of insulation etc – into a standard programme. If your house is a standard model, the programme works very well but if your home has any anomalies – such as rooms in roofs, modern extensions, non-conventional heating systems – then it apparently struggles.

In other words it may generate recommendations inappropriate for your building, and not make recommendations which should seem obvious. See Cathy’s blog on her experience of her own room-in-roof property, as case in point.

I chose a green deal assessor who had many years of experience doing domestic energy assessments prior to the green deal in the hopes that his experience would help him navigate the blunt tool of the green deal assessment procedure in order to come up with the best, most appropriate set of recommendations for me. The extent to which he is able, or willing, to override the system in order to do this remains to be seen. Watch this space! 

More information

YouGen guide to the renewable heat incentive

YouGen guide to insulation

From the blog

RHI: your questions answered (April 2014)

How to choose a green deal advisor (August 2013)

How do I apply for the domestic RHI (April 2014)

How to read your green deal advice report (July 2013)

Guide to reading an energy performance certificate (EPC) (Aug 2011)

 

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

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Comments

4 comments - read them below or add one

Tasha Kosviner

Tasha KosvinerComment left on: 23 September 2014 at 2:41 pm

HI Maxy

In order to qualify for RHI, you need to install loft and cavity wall insulation only if it is recommended on your green deal advice report. Solid wall insulation is not a requirement of RHI, whether it is recommended on the report or not. 

However I would say two things:

1. RHI does require loft insulation is a minimum of 250mm. You may find that your RHI application is refused because of the 200mm figure on your report, despite the fact that topping it up is not recommended. In any case, even if your application is successful you could end up being audited. If this happens you will be found to be in breach of the RHI terms and conditions and may be asked to repay the money you have received. I suggest you make sure that your insulation is up to at least 250mm across your entire loft area and then contact your assessor and ask them to amend your report. 

2. Heat pumps only work really well in well-insulated properties. In a poorly insulated property your heat pump would need to work very hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and will therefore end up being very energy intensive and therefore expensive, to run. Therefore, although RHI does not require you to get solid wall insulation, you may decide that you'd like to get it. Of course, the green deal exists to enable you to borrow the money to get the insulation done - and repay it through the savings in your energy bills.

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maxy

maxyComment left on: 21 August 2014 at 2:50 pm

Hello,

I already have Solar water and Solar PV and to complete the picture I want air source heat pumps. I have even got planning permission for 2 units.

But I need some advice on this really grey area as well. My green deal assessment says it has measured 200mm of loft insulation. In fact 1/3 of my loft is boarded out and the insulation that was where the boards are now, which was about 500mm has been moved to other areas, so in some areas its about 1metre deep!

The assesor has NOT put loft insulation as a recommendation.

So my first question is: 1. To be eligible for RHI will I need to rip up all the boards and get all the insulation up to up to 250mm if the assessor hasn't recommened any more need for loft insulation??

Secondly I have solid walls. Yet the assessor HAS recommended "Internal or external wall insulation', i.e. not cavity wall but some insulation on the inside or outside of the solid walls which can cost way over £10,000 and can affect the ventilation.

My 2nd question is: 2. Would I have to get this solid wall insulation done before being eleigible for the RHI? If so I won't bother as the figures just don't add up.

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Tasha Kosviner

Tasha KosvinerComment left on: 23 June 2014 at 2:56 pm

Hi BlueMooner

I've just had to remove the boards from my loft to get the additional insulation installed too.

My view is that the RHI is a good scheme but the attempts to try and tie it in with the Green Deal, which is beset with so many problems of its own, has muddied the waters for everyone - DECC, OFGEM who are tasked with administering RHI and, most importantly, end users like us. 

Tasha - YouGen editor

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BlueMooner

BlueMoonerComment left on: 30 May 2014 at 3:53 pm

Thanks for this Tasha, it is worth "shopping around" when looking for your advisor, I have spoken to a couple as I have to get this done retrospectively (thanks Mr Davey) having installed the biomass boiler in 2013 when GDA was not required.  I too have queried the levels of insulation as, back in 2013 150mm was acceptable.  Now they have moved the goalposts again to 250mm.  My loft is mainly boarded out so that will pose a problem.  I truly believe that DECC haven't a clue what they are doing and whilst it is with good intentions they are just completely hapless. 

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