Renewable Heat Incentive for domestic customers
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was suspended on 29 February 2016. It will stay open for existing participants until its natural close. The scheme is managed by the Department for the Economy (DfE)
Note about this guidance
This guidance is to help you understand the Domestic RHI Regulations for the Domestic RHI Scheme. It does not cover everything and you should also read the regulations - it is not a substitute for them.
If you have any questions or want advice on any part of the Domestic RHI Scheme, contact the Domestic RHI team at DfE:
- phone: 028 9052 9219
- email: email@example.com
Understand your obligations
If you take part in the Domestic RHI Scheme it is your responsibility to make sure you understand and follow the ongoing obligations of the scheme. Serious or repeated failure to keep to the ongoing obligations may result in the accreditation of your renewable technology to the scheme being revoked.
Two parts to RHI payments
Domestic RHI payments have two parts - an upfront payment made when you are accepted onto the scheme and an annual incentive payment.
The upfront payment is a set amount based on your renewable technology.
The annual incentive payment will vary and is dependent on technology type and the information given on your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate.
Some who take part in the scheme and who have a biomass boiler or a heat pump will have to install meters. Their annual incentive payment will be dependent on the kilowatt hours (kWh) generated by their technology.
|Type of heating||Payment|
|Air source heat pump||£1,700|
|Ground source heat pump||£3,500|
If you got support under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment, you will only be eligible to get the annual incentive payment.
Annual declarations and annual incentive payments
Incentive payments are made annually and in arrears. Each year DfE will send an annual declaration for you to complete and return.
The annual declaration is for you to confirm that you have kept to the scheme’s ongoing obligations in the past year. This must be done before DfE can decide if you are eligible to get an incentive payment.
Tariff rates from 1 April 2021 in pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) are as follows:
|Technology||Tariff (rounded to two decimal places)|
|Air source heat pump||4.08 p/kWh|
|Ground source heat pump||9.55 p/kWh|
|Solar thermal||15.73 p/kWh|
Tariffs are reviewed and adjusted annually in line with the Retail Price Index.
How your payments are worked out depends on whether your renewable heating system needs metered. See the section on metering below for more details.
Annual incentive payments are worked out using the estimated annual generation figure shown on the MCS certificate. The estimated annual generation figure will have been calculated by your MCS certified installer.
- annual payment = estimated annual generation figure X tariff
Solar installations will never need metered.
Biomass, air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps
Non-metered payments - deemed heat demand
Heating systems that don’t need to be metered for payment will get payments based on ‘deemed’ heat. This is the amount of heat your accredited domestic plant is deemed to generate every 12 months and is calculated using the potential heating and potential hot water costs detailed in the EPC for your property.
The EPC data gives an estimate of a property's heat needs should all reasonable energy efficiency measures be carried out. This figure is used, rather than actual or current heat demand, to encourage home owners to become more energy efficient.
Also, heat pump annual incentive payments use information from the MCS certificate for the property.
The MCS certificate has information on the design efficiency of your pump, known as the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) and this is factored into the annual heat generation element of the calculation. Where the SPF is not detailed, the default minimum of 2.5 is used.
- annual payment = deemed annual heat generation X tariff
Where a property has heat usage metered, the payments to a participant are based on meter readings. Payment will be capped at either the 'deemed level' or £2,500 per year - whichever is less.
DfE will ask you for a yearly meter reading in order to work out the payment you may be due.
If your biomass boiler or heat pump is metered, the payment is worked out by multiplying the relevant tariff with the number of kilowatt hours used by your plant during the payment period.
- annual payment = metered annual heat output x relevant tariff
Cap on payments
The maximum annual incentive payment a participant on the Domestic RHI Scheme can receive is £2,500.
Your ongoing obligations
You must keep to the rules of the Domestic RHI Scheme in order to stay on the scheme and be considered eligible for annual incentive payments. These rules are called ‘ongoing obligations’ and every participant on the scheme must keep to them.
Failure to keep to the ongoing obligations could lead to your renewable technology's accreditation to the scheme being revoked.
Your general responsibilities include:
- if you have a biomass boiler or stove, you must, if asked, give evidence confirming the type of fuel you purchased and used in that heating system - keep your fuel receipts for the full length of the scheme
- you must not make use of public grant funding for buying or installing the renewable heat technology installed in your property after accreditation, other than any grant notified to DfE when the accreditation application was made
- you must make sure that your renewable heating system continues to meet the eligibility criteria
- you must keep to any conditions attached to your renewable technology's accreditation
- the renewable heating system must be kept in good working order
- if there is a change of ownership of the renewable heat installation you must tell DfE within 28 days.
- you must not move an accredited heating system to a new property
- if you are told of a site visit, you must allow the inspector access to the property and co-operate with the inspection
- if you do not live in the property, you must have agreement from the occupants that they will allow access and cooperate if there's an inspection
- you must keep to any requirements necessary for scheme review and evaluation, which can include a decision by DfE to install a meter
- you must not seek accreditation under the Non-Domestic RHI Scheme for the same renewable heating system or for different heating systems at the same domestic property
Obligations if meters are installed
If you have meters installed your ongoing obligations also include:
- you must make sure your electricity meter(s) are installed and record the electricity your renewable technology uses to generate heat, as well as electricity supplied to any external/boost or immersion heaters controlled by the heat pump’s controls
- you must make sure the heat generated by your renewable technology is metered for time of your participation in the scheme
- meters must be installed as per ‘Installer Metering Questions’ given at application stage or given when the meters were installed if this was after accreditation
- you must give meter readings when asked to do so by DfE to allow payments to be worked out
- you must give meter readings in the format asked for within the set timescale
- you must keep each meter in good working order
- you must not repair a broken meter or replace the meter without telling DfE as this will be treated as a failure to keep to your ongoing obligations and could lead to revocation of your renewable technology's accreditation
- you must give DfE any further information asked for about the metered RHI installation by the date set by DfE
Your responsibilities if your circumstances change
You must tell DfE of any change in circumstances which could affect your RHI payments within 28 days of the change occurring.
Do not wait until your annual declaration is received to tell DfE of a change in circumstances. By getting this information to DfE as soon as possible you’ll allow DfE to issue the right payments and avoid any need for you to repay any money.
Failure to tell DfE within 28 days of the change occurring could result in your renewable technology's revocation from the Domestic RHI Scheme.
If you are unsure if the change in your circumstances affects your payments contact the Domestic RHI team.
A summary of the changes which you must tell DfE about are:
- if any of the information given in support of your application was incorrect
- if your renewable technology stops generating heat for the property
- if any other heating system or product is installed to heat the property
- if the property becomes occupied for less than 183 days in any 12 month period after the date you applied to the scheme, unless the property has a meter fitted
- if your renewable technology stops providing heat for an eligible purpose
- if you have been unable or will be unable to keep to an ongoing obligation
- if you have transferred ownership or are going to transfer ownership of all or part of the renewable technology within 28 days
- if there is a change in circumstance which may mean that you will no longer be eligible to receive Domestic RHI payments
- if any meter installed stops working, is moved, is replaced, is reset, stops being in good working order, stops being eligible, or any meters are added or removed
You can read the full text of your ongoing obligations at:
Most people who have joined the Domestic RHI Scheme won’t need to install meters to get payments. This is because they live in the RHI property all year round and the renewable heating system is the only heating system that supplies heat to the property.
However, your renewable technology needs to be metered if:
- your RHI property is occupied for less than 183 days in any 12 month period
- your RHI property has a secondary heating system which generates heat to more than one room - for example oil, gas, open fire or stove with a back boiler
- your biomass technology doesn’t supply heat to the entire RHI property
- your RHI property is under a tenancy agreement
Some people will always have had their heat metered because at least one of these circumstances existed when they joined the scheme. Others will need meter(s) to be installed at some point in the scheme's lifetime because their circumstances have changed since making an application to the scheme.
You do not need a meter if:
- you have a solar thermal system only
- your secondary heating system is designed and installed to heat only one room - for example a standalone electric heater or an open fire or wood burning stove with no back boiler
Once your renewable technology is metered, it will stay metered for your time on the scheme or until the scheme ends, even if the reasons for needing a meter no longer exist.
If you think your heat should be metered
If you change the heating arrangements in your property you must contact the Domestic RHI team to tell them of the change. They will confirm if a meter needs to be installed and explain the impact this may have on any payments. You must tell the team within 28 days of the change occurring.
All meters must only be installed by a MCS certified installer. MCS certified installers can be found at the following link:
Using a non-MCS certified installer will invalidate your renewable technology’s accreditation. If you need information about MCS certified installers go to the MCS website or contact the Domestic RHI Team.
What your MCS certified installer should do
Your MCS certified installer should label the meter clearly and show you how to take meter readings. Remember, there could be more than one meter and more than one type, for example heat, electricity, gas or oil.
Your installer should take the first reading which you must send to DfE. After that you will have to give annual readings as part of your annual declaration. DfE may ask for readings more often but you will be told if this is the case.
Your installer will be responsible for giving the answers in the Installer Metering Questionnaire (IMQ). They’ll complete a paper copy of the IMQ and give it to you. You will need to send this to DfE.
- Installer metering questions - heat pump installation
- Alternative metering arrangements template - heat pumps
- Installer metering questions - biomass installations
- Alternative metering arrangements template - biomass
Change of circumstances
You must tell DfE as soon as there is a change of circumstances which may affect your payments, such as:
- selling the property which has the renewable heating system installed
- not living in your property for 183 days or more in any 12 month period
- if your renewable technology no longer supplies heat to the entire property
- if you install a back-up heating system, for example oil, gas, open fire or stove with a back boiler
- if your property which has the renewable heating system comes under a tenancy agreement
Telling DfE of changes in your circumstances is part of the ongoing obligations which you've agreed to as a participant on the Domestic RHI Scheme. You must tell DfE within 28 days of any change.
Failure to tell DfE of any changes which could affect your payments may be seen as a serious failure to keep to these obligations and the accreditation for your renewable technology could be revoked. You may also need to repay any money received for which you were not entitled to claim as a result of your failure to tell DfE about the change.
Change of ownership – moving house
If you plan to sell your property and the renewable technology is included in the sale it’s important that you tell DfE as it may affect your eligibility to stay on the scheme. You can do this by phone, email or letter.
You’ll need to contact DfE within 28 days of the sale going through - although the sooner the better.
DfE will ask you to send written correspondence from your solicitor confirming the sale and the legal date of transfer of ownership of the property.
Getting this information to DfE as soon as possible allows payments to calculated correctly and will avoid any need for you to repay any money.
Failure to tell DfE will also cause delays for the new owner if they plan to join the scheme.
Any remaining payments will be paid up until the day before the legal transfer of the property is complete.
Taking over Domestic RHI payments from a previous owner
When you move into an RHI property and you want to take over the Domestic RHI payments from the previous owner, you can get in touch with DfE from the date of buying.
You must get in touch within 12 months from the legal date of transfer of the property and give the information asked by DfE to be considered eligible for the scheme. DfE will tell you of the date that your eligibility for payments will start – this may not be the same date as the legal transfer of the property to you. If this is the case, this will be explained.
As the scheme is suspended new plants cannot be accredited to the scheme. This includes replacement plants for existing participants.
If you want or need to replace your renewable technology contact the Domestic RHI team who will explain how this will affect your participation on the scheme.
Your renewable heating technology will be inspected by DfE during the lifetime of the scheme. DfE will arrange a time suitable to you on a weekday between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm.
Should you refuse to cooperate with this request and it is deemed unreasonable to do so, DfE may decide to withhold payments.
Withholding RHI payments due to non-compliance
If DfE has reason to believe that you are failing to keep to an ongoing obligation or that your renewable technology was accredited to the scheme due to the incorrect information given, payments may be withheld whilst the situation is investigated. You will be advised that payments have been suspended.
As soon as DfE finishes the investigation, you will be told of the outcome, the proposed action to be taken and your right of review. Should it be decided that there has been no break of the ongoing obligations or the information given for accreditation was right, payments will resume and any payments withheld will be paid. However, should it be decided that you have failed to keep to the scheme’s ongoing obligations, accreditation to the scheme may be revoked.
In circumstances where you have been overpaid due to an administrative error, DfE may recover any payment(s) made to you, either by offsetting against future payments or requiring that you repay the overpayment in full.
DfE may take court action to recover the payments if you don’t repay within the timeframe set by DfE.
If DfE is satisfied that there has been a serious or repeated failure to keep to any of the scheme’s ongoing obligations or that the domestic plant has been given accreditation as a result of wrong information, they may revoke the accreditation of the renewable heat technology to the Domestic RHI Scheme.
You will be told of the reason for revocation and the consequences of the revocation. This may mean you have to repay some or all of the payments that have been made to you. You have the right to have a revocation decision reviewed. This will be explained in the letter that is sent to you.
Voluntary withdrawal from the scheme
If you no longer want to take part in the Domestic RHI Scheme, you can ask to withdraw.
In order to withdraw from the scheme you should first tell DfE by completing the following form:
Based on the information in the form, DfE will decide whether a site inspection is needed. If an inspection is needed, they will arrange a suitable date and time with you.
DfE will also work out if your RHI payments have been overpaid or underpaid. If there has been an overpayment made to you, they will write to you advising of the amount and how you can make a repayment.
Overpayments must be repaid. If you have been underpaid, DfE will tell you how much you are owed and arrange payment.
Once your withdrawal has been approved:
- you will no longer be able to make a claim to any future Domestic RHI payments
- the renewable technology installed at your property will no longer be accredited on the Domestic RHI Scheme
- as the renewable technology is no longer accredited, a transfer of ownership cannot take place
- you are no longer bound by the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014
DfE has an ongoing obligation to safeguard public resources against the risk of fraud. A zero-tolerance approach is taken with cases of fraud reported to the police. DfE will take suitable steps to recover monies lost as a result of fraud carried out against DfE.
If at any point in the lifetime of the Domestic RHI Scheme DfE suspects that a participant has knowingly given incorrect information and has done so in order to pursue financial gain, it will take action to recover all monies due and will, where suitable, report the incident to the police.
Right of review
If you are unhappy with a decision made by DfE whilst administering the Domestic RHI Scheme you have the right to have the decision reviewed.
The application for review must:
- be in writing
- be received within 28 days of you being told of the decision
- specify the decision which you want reviewed
- specify the grounds on which you want the decision reviewed
An independent panel, not involved in making the decision, will review the decision and will either affirm, revoke or vary the decision.
You will be told of the outcome of the review within 21 days of the panel making its decision.
If you are still unhappy you may then appeal to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman. Details of how to do this will be given to you when you receive the outcome of the review.
During the lifetime of the scheme, DfE may:
- ask for information to allow the proper administration of the scheme
- ask to inspect the property where the renewable heat system is installed
- install a meter to collect data and remove the meter as necessary
- make your renewable technology's accreditation keep to any condition it considers suitable
Privacy and use of your information
You can find out how any personal information you have given to the DfE about the Domestic RHI Scheme will be handled by viewing the privacy notice:
For all general queries about the Northern Ireland Domestic RHI Scheme, contact the Department for the Economy:
- phone: 028 9052 9219
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org