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Government UK parliament
18 Sep 2020

What is the Renewable Heat Incentive?

By Oliver
  • Read time: 4 minutes
RHI is a UK government-funded financial incentive aimed at encouraging the use of renewable heat technologies or renewable heating system by giving financial support to users of such technologies.

What is it for?

Renewable Heat Incentive UK is targeting the domestic and non-domestic sectors. The domestic sector comprises householders while the non-domestic sector is of community organisations, public sector, industrial and commercial. This program currently runs in England, Scotland, and Wales. This mighty government scheme is intended to help achieve the United Kingdom’s legally binding target of zero emissions by the year 2050. The main target is off the gas grid households, but it is not limited to this.

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive eligibility

As long as you are a private landlord, social landlord, or homeowner, you are eligible for renewable heat incentive UK:

  • When your renewable heating system is issued with a valid MCS certificate by the installer, such a certificate can only be issued on systems which use MCS certified product. This is an indication that the system conforms with the relevant EN standards. Engage the installer thoroughly to make sure you get the right document.

  • The biomass product models installed after scheme launch bearing an RHI Emission certificate showing that they are in par with the required air quality standards.

However, to fully qualify for RHI, you will have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to prove your property is deemed domestic.

Non-domestic RHI eligibility

To qualify for the non-domestic RHI scheme, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You should be the owner of the installation. Where there are joint or multiple owners, you ought to prove that you have the right or permission to act on behalf of your fellow owners.

  • The system must have been during the time of installation and most importantly must have been commissioned not earlier than 15th July 2009.

  • The only time grants can be used to fund part, or the entire installation is if it has been fully repaid.

  • The installed system must either use steam or liquid as the heat delivery medium. Also, the system must supply heat for one or more eligible heat use.

RHI technologies

Various technologies qualify for RHI payment. Such technologies will save you a massive deal of installation costs as well as running costs.

Air source heat pumps
Options such as solar panels and wood-burning stoves are alternatives to generate your energy. But air source pumps serve as the best alternatives to heat your home and most especially if you are looking forward to saving more money on energy bills while generating more heat. Air source heat pumps are ideal in saving you heating bills if you are replacing a coal system, electric system, oil, or LPG (liquefied Petroleum Gas). But keep in mind that your home is to be well insulated; otherwise, the heat pump is easily producing escapes.

Air source heat pumps take two forms: Air-to-water heat pumps and Air-to-air heat pumps

ASHP long life

Air-to-water heat pumps
This type of air source heat pumps takes heat from outside environment air and fuel into the moist central heating system. The heat manufactured is cooler compared to that of a conventional boiler. To get the most out of it, you might consider installing underfloor heating or large radiators in your home.

These kinds of ASHPs (air source heating pumps) are best suited in new build properties. You incur less cost if the heat pump is built as part of the building stipulations as opposed to retrofitting the underfloor heating later.

Air-to-air heat pumps
Such pumps garner heat from the outside air and feed the heat into your home via fans. It is a type of heat system that cannot produce hot water.

One major significance of air-to-air heat pumps is they can operate in reverse during summer. This means that you can utilise it as an air conditioner to provide cooling for your home. The Mitsubishi ecodan or Daikin heat pumps are good examples.

The bright side of air source heat pumps

  • Unlike ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps are less disruptive during installation as they do not require digging in your garden

  • They are highly energy-efficient as they are designed to generate a considerable deal of less carbon dioxide, unlike conventional heating systems.

  • Air source heat pumps are RHI approved.


  • Some of ASHPs condenser units tend to produce a noisy sound. Install it far from frequent dwellings/chills.

  • The pump requires electricity to drive. This does not guarantee zero-carbon emission unless a renewable source of power like solar power or a wind turbine is used.


Biomass heating systems

Biomass heating systems are also known as wood heating systems. Such systems burn organic materials like wood logs, chips or pellets in a wood-burning boiler or stove to provide heat as well as hot water.

Stoves are usually used as solo room heaters for a room at a time, but they can be interestingly incorporated with or connected to a boiler. By so doing, the stove’s energy will be trapped to produce heat and hot liquid (water) around the house.

To maximise on the heat, you ought to get a wet stove, in that, an integral boiler will be built into the firebox, or even retrofit the biomass boiler to the stove by use of a clip.

On the most significant feature of biomass heating systems is; if you have the stove installed in the same room as a thermostat, the central heating turns off as soon as the stove heats the room. This is a significant cost saver.

Ground source heat pump

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) system garners natural heat in the underground through pumping water via it in pipes.

The heat pump works by increasing temperature. The heat harnessed is used in the provision of home heating and hot water as per the homeowner’s preferences.

As much as they need electricity to run, the bright side of it is that they utilize less electrical energy compared to the heat they produce. Energy-efficiency is the end goal.

The pump is designed to perform as a boiler does, but unlike a boiler which burns fuel to generate heat, the pump utilizes ambient heat from the ground.

Bottom line

Net zero-emissions is the target for RHI. Let’s embrace a greener world by utilising the above technologies, and RHI laid down processes.


Written by Oliver

Oliver is a Content Specialist for 50five UK