The Renewable Heat Incentive, or RHI, is a scheme which issues quarterly payments to people who have, or who choose to install, certain types of renewable heating system. Under the scheme, homeowners and businesses that are eligible for payments will receive quarterly cash payouts.

The UK government has been given targets for reducing the carbon footprint of the country as a whole, and one significant way of doing this is by reducing the energy consumption of homeowners and small business owners, as well as larger companies, and by encouraging the use of more renewable sources, and fewer fossil fuels. The RHI is a simple way of doing this.

There are two versions of the scheme. The domestic version was launched in 2014, and is aimed at homeowners in England, Scotland and Wales. There is also a non-domestic version of the scheme. The regulations were updated in May 2018, and it is always worth those who are interested in taking part in the scheme confirming the current status and eligibility criteria before they spend money on a renewable heating system. Full details of the schemes can be found on the Ofgem website.

About The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive

The Domestic RHI is a scheme that the government has launched in order to encourage homeowners to use renewable heat sources. The idea behind the system is that homeowners will help to reduce the total carbon emissions of the UK, and support the UK in reaching its renewable energy targets.

To qualify for the scheme, homeowners must have a green, renewable heat source, and stick to the rules of the scheme long-term. If they do this, then they will be given payouts based on the estimated output of their renewable heating system. There are already thousands of homeowners taking part in the scheme.

If you want to join the Domestic RHI then you will need to sign up online, providing a copy of your home’s EPC, as well as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme number. You will also need to provide information of the cost of the installation. This information is requested for statistics only, and will not affect your eligibility for payouts. The payments are based on the output of the system, not how much you spent to have it fitted.

About The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive

The Non-Domestic RHI is similar to the domestic version but is aimed at commercial properties. Any business, public sector organization or nonprofit can apply, as long as their equipment was installed on, or later than, 15 July 2009.

There are strict requirements for the type of renewable heat system, and for how it is monitored. The non-domestic RHI is for both large and small businesses, and would also apply to a business with a district heating system which serves more than one home.

In cases where a renewable heating system serves only on property, and that property is eligible for the domestic EPC, then you would apply for the domestic version of the RHI scheme. The domestic EPC is treated as proof that the property is a domestic dwelling. A property that does not have a domestic EPC would not be eligible for the domestic RHI and would need to apply for the non-domestic version of the scheme.

Technologies Applicable for Claiming RHI support

  • Biomass (wood fuelled) boilers
  • Biomass pellet stoves with integrated boilers providing space heating
  • Ground to water heat pumps
  • Air to water heat pumps
  • Solar thermal panels (flat plate or evacuated tube only) providing hot water for your home
  • Air to air heat pumps, all log stoves, pellet stoves without back boilers and hybrid PVT are not supported by RHI.
  • Water source heat pumps can potentially be eligible for the Domestic RHI.
  • Certain cooker stoves and certain high temperature heat pumps may also be eligible.

How Payouts are Sent

Depending on the type of system you have, and whether or not you need to be metered, you will be paid based on the performance (or estimated performance) of your heating system. You will be asked for bank details when you apply, and the payment will be sent off to those bank details. Once your renewable heat system has been approved, you should find that the process of getting payouts is hassle-free, as long as you continue to comply with the regulations. This is a nice ongoing bonus that can help renewable heating systems to ‘pay for themselves’.

Businesses in Northern Ireland

The Non-Domestic RHI is aimed at people who run businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. If you are based in Northern Ireland then you will need to look at their version of the scheme. At the time of writing, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment had put the RHI for businesses in Northern Ireland on hold. Anyone who had already joined the scheme would continue to get payments for the duration of their eligibility, but new applications are not currently being accepted.

The RHI is just one ‘green’ incentive scheme. There are other tariff and payment options for other green improvements, so it is worth asking your local authority for information about incentives that you may be eligible for.

Note that you can apply only for the Domestic or the Non-Domestic RHI. A property cannot be signed up to both at the same time. Seek advice if you are not sure which scheme you are eligible for.