Renewable Heat Incentive for domestic customers

The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme closed to new applications on 29 February 2016.

Domestic RHI payments

Domestic RHI payments have two elements - an upfront payment paid when you are accepted into the scheme and an ongoing incentive payment paid annually. The upfront payment is a set amount based on your technology and the ongoing payment varies depending on your heat requirements and use.

For most scheme members, payments are made on an estimation of your heating system’s annual heat use.

For biomass and heat pump systems, the heat load figure on your EPC is used.

For solar thermal, a figure calculated from information on your MCS certificate is used.

Some people (for instance those with rented properties or those with a back-up heating system such as an oil boiler, or with a property which is a second home) will have to install meters and send regular readings.

Upfront payments

Type of heating Payment
Biomass £2,500
Air source heat pump £1,700
Ground source heat pump £3,500
Solar thermal £320

If you have already received support under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment, you will receive the ongoing payment only.

Ongoing payments

The ongoing payments are calculated by multiplying a tariff with the heat demand or use in your home.

Tariff rates from 1 April 2016 in pence per kilo watt hour (p/kWh) are as follows:

Type of heating Tariff
Biomass 5.8p/kWh
Air source heat pump 3.6p/kWh
Ground source heat pump 8.4p/kWh
Solar thermal 13.9p/kWh

Tariffs are reviewed annually according to the Retail Price Index.

Calculating payments

Solar thermal

Annual incentive payments are calculated using the estimated annual generation figure shown on the MSC certificate. The estimated annual generation figure will have been calculated by your MSC installer.

Annual payment = estimated annual generation figure X tariff

You can use the online calculator to estimate what annual incentive payment you would receive:

Biomass, air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps

Biomass annual incentive payments are calculated using the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provided for the property. Air source heat pump and ground source heat pump annual incentive payments are calculated using the EPC and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate for the property.

The EPC data provides an estimate of a property's heat requirements 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 efficient.

The MCS provides the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) for the property. Where the SPF is not detailed, the default minimum of 2.5 is used.

Annual payment = potential annual heat demand X tariff

You can use the online calculators to estimate what annual incentive payment you would receive:

Payments for installations that are metered

Where a property has required metering, the payments will be made based on the heat meter readings but capped at the 'deemed level' or £2,500 per year; whichever is less. The ‘deemed level’ is the RHI annual payment, calculated using the potential yearly heating and hot water costs from your EPC.

Cap on payments

No property will receive more than £2,500 per year for the ongoing incentive payments.

Your responsibilities

The scheme is run by the Department for the Economy. You have to agree to keep to the scheme rules. These include:

  • keeping the heating system and metering equipment (if you have it) in good working order
  • telling the Department for the Economy if the equipment breaks down and isn’t working while you’re waiting for repairs
  • telling the Department for the Economy if you sell your house (with the heating system in it), in which case, payments to you will stop and switch to the new owner if they apply to the scheme and satisfy certain other conditions
  • telling the Department for the Economy if you make any changes to your heating system, for example if you replace part of it
  • telling the Department for the Economy if there are changes that mean your property needs to be metered, for example, if you buy a second home
  • telling the Department for the Economy if there is any change in circumstances that may affect your eligibility to receive payments

Audit checks

Every year you will have to complete a declaration confirming that you’ve kept to the rules. These will be audited.

Metering

Most people who have joined the Northern Ireland Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive won’t need to install meters to receive payments. However, if you don’t live in your property permanently, if you have back-up heating systems, or if you have a heating system that doesn’t supply the entire property, you will.

Will I need metering?

Your installer must fulfil a number of detailed requirements. They should know a lot about metering already, but make sure they are aware of MCS requirements and that they provide you with a metering handover pack.

Solar thermal for heating domestic hot water never has to be metered. 

Why most RHI installations won’t need metering

Most people joining the scheme live in the same home all year round and have one renewable heating system that supplies the whole property. Payments will be based on the property’s estimated annual heat use. It’s straightforward and makes the scheme more efficient.

For biomass, this figure will come from your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It’s the same for heat pumps, although the pump’s design efficiency (Seasonal Performance Factor) is factored in to calculate payments. For solar thermal, the figure will come from the MCS certificate, which is based on a calculation by your installer.

Why some do need metering

Some people won’t live in their properties permanently. Others have back-up heating systems installed. Some have a heating system that doesn’t supply the entire property.

In these cases and some others, the equipment is likely to be generating less heat than specified on the EPC. It means these properties will have to be metered and you will need to send regular readings so payments can be allocated appropriately.

What does need metering?

You need metering if you have back-up heating

Your system must be metered if:

Back-up heating that doesn’t count

You don’t need metering if your back-up heating is only designed and installed to heat a single room, such as an open fire or a plug-in electric heater. In the same way, immersion heaters and extra electric heaters (that some heat pumps have) don’t count. There are some other exemptions.

You need metering if your home is only partly occupied

Homes that are occupied for less than half the year must be metered.

You need metering if the property is the subject of a tenancy agreement

Where the heating system is installed in a domestic property which is rented under a tenancy agreement, it will need to be metered. Rented homes, whilst occupied for the majority of the year, may be empty for large periods of time (for example, student accommodation). Therefore, the deeming methodology (estimation of the heating system's annual heat use) may not be the best option.

You need metering if your biomass boiler or stove doesn’t heat your entire property

If your biomass boiler is not sized to meet all of your heating needs, then you will not get the same amount as if it did and your heating system must be metered. Check with your installer to see if this applies to you.

What your installer should do

  • tell you if metering is required
  • label the meter clearly (there could be more than one meter and more than one type – heat, electricity, gas or oil) and teach you how to take meter readings
  • take the initial reading which you can submit if you apply to the scheme within two weeks, if not you’ll have to take a new reading and submit it when you apply - after that you’ll submit readings quarterly
  • your installer will be responsible for providing the answers to the metering questions that you submit as part of your application - they’ll complete a paper copy of these and hand it to you when they design your renewable heating system
  • Installer search on the MCS website

Contact 

For all general queries about the Northern Ireland domestic RHI scheme, contact the Department for the Economy:

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