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YouGen press release

Homeowners should be wary when investing in renewable heat warns YouGen founder

Posted on 19 July 2013 at 10:38 am

People wanting to take advantage of the renewable heat incentive to upgrade their heating systems should proceed with caution according to the founder of award-winning renewable energy website YouGen.

“While I'm a big fan of renewable heat technologies,” said Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen, “they are not for everyone. They work well if they are properly installed in suitable buildings by and experienced professional. But it's vital that people realise that it’s a long term investment, not a something to buy on a whim that gives an instant return.

“I'm delighted that detail of the domestic renewable heat incentive scheme has finally been announced, and that the rates make it an attractive proposition for appropriate homes. However, installing a biomass boiler or a heat pump isn't as simple as replacing a condensing boiler, and there are risks associated with being an early adopter. Before going ahead, homeowners should do their homework (on YouGen and other reputable sources of information) so that they have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and knowledge of the potential pitfalls as well as the benefits."

YouGen has put together eight points to help homeowners to focus their minds when considering whether renewable heat is suitable for them:

8 points to consider before switching to renewable heat

1. Renewable heat is not suitable for all properties. For example, solar water heating requires a roof that faces between south east and south west, heat pumps work best in well-insulated buildings, and biomass boilers need plenty of space.

2. Unlike the feed-in tariff for solar pv, the renewable heat incentive is NOT designed to give a return on investment. It is designed as a boiler replacement scheme, with rates that put renewable heat on a level playing field with choosing a condensing boiler.

3. The scheme is aimed at rural, off-gas properties. The tariffs have been set based on the costs of heating with oil and LPG, so renewable heat is unlikely to make financial sense for people with access to the gas network. (There may, of course, be other worthy motivations for installing).

4. With the exception of solar thermal, the domestic market for these products is young. There is a shortage of expertise, and plenty of horror stories. Ask to talk to previous customers before choosing an installer, preferably those who have had their system at least a year. Ask how often they install the product you want, and whether they have been trained by, and are supported by, the manufacturer.

5. There's a danger of being mis-sold. There are some sharks and charlatans who actively mislead, and others who just get the figures wrong. Do your research and look for a recommended installer local to you. Avoid any company that cold calls you.

6. Make sure your installer is MCS accredited and a signed up to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code. No MCS means no RHI. But note that MCS is a standard that all installers must achieve, and not a mark of the quality of their installations or advice.

7. You must have a green deal assessment before you claim your renewable heat incentive, but it makes most sense to have it before you make the decision about what to install, as it may give you useful information that will help inform your decision.

8. Look for installers that cover a range of renewable heat technologies so that they can look at your property and recommend the technology most suitable. Otherwise there's a danger of being sold something that isn't the most appropriate for your circumstances.

Notes for editors

For more relevant information on YouGen, click the following links:

YouGen guide to the domestic renewable heat incentive with FAQs

YouGen guide to heat pumps

YouGen guide to biomass boilers

YouGen guide to solar hot water

Which is the best heat pump?

What the domestic RHI means for heat pumps

How to choose your biomass boiler installer

Details of the domestic renewable heat incentive were published on 12/7/2013 by DECC.

YouGen is an award-winning website, which aims to equip people with the knowledge to make informed decisions about the best means of making their home or business more energy efficient, whatever their motivation.

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