New renewable heating incentive scheme should boost take up of green energies

Almost four years after the initiative was originally announced the Government has launched the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, offering homeowners payments to offset the cost of installing low carbon systems in their properties. In simple terms it will pay people for the green heat they generate for their homes. The scheme will apply to systems fitted since 2009, which means around 18,000 households should already qualify for the payments.

The Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES) who operate the free consumer advice service the Heating Helpline ( say that it is open to everyone: homeowners, social and private landlords, people who build their own homes and households both on and off the gas grid; and that there is much to commend the scheme. Commenting, Roderick Pettigrew, chief executive of B&ES, said,

“This is especially good news for the near 4 million homes in the UK that are “off gas”, that is, not connected to the mains gas grid. They are reliant on alternative energy sources for heating and hot water, such as electric, oil, LPG or sold fuel, and even with the price rises of the last few years these are typically more expensive than mains gas. By switching to renewable heating and taking advantage of the payments under the new scheme many off gas homes will make significant savings on their fuel bills and reduce emissions. Although it will be available for all households we expect that most people taking part in the RHI scheme will be off the gas grid.”

The technologies currently covered by the new scheme are:

  • Biomass heating systems
  • Ground or water source heat pumps
  • Air to water heat pumps
  • Solar thermal panels

Payments to householders have now been fixed at:

  • 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps;
  • 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers;
  • 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps;
  • 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal water heating systems.

The guaranteed payments are made quarterly over seven years for households in England, Wales and Scotland (Northern Ireland has its own RHI scheme).

To qualify for payments the equipment must be installed by a company registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The MCS is an industry-led and internationally recognised quality assurance scheme – all members are closely vetted to ensure high quality installations and good business practice.

For more information about the domestic RHI scheme call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales) or Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 (Scotland) or visit