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Information service YouGen advise on domestic RHI
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"The domestic renewable heat incentive (d-RHI) is different from the feed-in tariff," says YouGen founder Cathy Debenham. "The latter was designed to give a return on investment, while the d-RHI is a boiler replacement scheme.

The aim of the recently launched scheme is to enable renewable heating systems to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuel ones. The payments, which are made over seven years compensate the owner for the price difference between the two, including the cost of borrowing money to pay for installation.

It is calculated to help people who do not have access to mains gas to shift from oil, lpg or electric heating to renewables. In many cases the payments made over seven years will cover the cost of the installation. However, this is by no means guaranteed, so it's important to do the sums before deciding to move to renewable heat."

It's also very important that buyers make sure the heating system is suitable for their property:

"Not all renewable heating is appropriate for every property," adds Cathy Debenham. "Heat pumps run at much lower temperatures than a standard boiler, and so they are most suited to well insulated buildings, ideally with underfloor heating.

"Biomass boilers are significantly bigger than an oil boiler and will need more space, plus space to store the fuel, which must be kept dry. Solar thermal panels are not much use if you have electric showers, as most of the hot water they generate won't be used.

"For most retrofit situations none of the renewable heat technologies are perfect - they all require some compromises. People often find it difficult to work out which type of system suits their home best, so it's important to do some research before inviting installers to quote. Those on mains gas may find that renewable heat is not a cost effective option (the RHI isn't designed to encourage on-gas take up, although people on mains gas are eligible to apply).

"In all situations, it makes sense to increase the property's energy efficiency before installing a renewable heating system. (Those with un-insulated cavity walls or lofts must do so). This means that there is a lower heat demand, and so a smaller heating system is needed."

YouGen is an independent information source on renewable energy, primarily for homeowners. Our blog Domestic renewable heat incentive: your questions answered has had more than 12,000 page views since the final details of the RHI were announced in July 2013, and the comments below the blog give a good indication of the questions people are asking about it.

It also has guidance on how to choose an installer, and a directory of installers whose customers are encouraged to review the quality of their work.

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