Thinking of Installing Renewable Heat Technology into your home – what should you consider?
Energy prices continue to rise inexorably, and we’re all feeling the pinch.
The introduction of the latest renewable energy tariff, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), is designed to help more of us move away from traditional fuels – and prove that we no longer have to rely on the burning of fossil fuels to generate heating and electricity.
Soon, we could see heat pumps and solar thermal tubes widely installed in people’s homes as renewables become part of our way of life.
In fact, many new developments are now not even connected to mains gas; they rely on heat pumps to supply all their heating and hot water.
What is the Domestic RHI?
Simply put, the domestic RHI rewards those who heat their homes and water with the help of renewable heat technologies. It will be paid quarterly to households for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable heat generated for a period of seven years and the payments vary according to the technology installed.
The RHI differs from Feed-In Tariffs (FITs). FITs pay households and communities for generating their own electricity and for any excess energy exported to the National Grid. Heat cannot be exported so the RHI does not include an equivalent to the export tariff within the FIT.
For those who are ahead of the game, there is a system of retrospective payments. These apply to owners of eligible systems installed on or after 15 July 2009, although so-called ‘legacy applications’ will only be accepted in the 12 months following the RHI’s introduction.
Installing Renewable Heat Technology
When installing renewable heat technology, always use a fully trained, MCS-accredited installer who can install an MSC-accredited product or you/future owners of your home won’t qualify for the RHI tariff.
Also, it’s advisable to ensure that your home is properly insulated. Renewable technologies such as heat pumps heat water to a lower temperature than gas-fired boilers and proper insulation is important to make your home feel cosy. You can apply for a Green Deal loan to help spread the cost and be assessed for potential renewable technology installation at the same time.
The inside track on renewable heat technologies
Solar thermal works well in large family homes where there is typically a steady demand for hot water – remembering that occupancy levels are more important than the size of the house when sizing a system. Ensure your installer factors-in any regular periods a property may be empty (say, between tenancies), to size it correctly, maximise your return on investment, and avoid potential problems with the system over-heating.
Heat pumps are increasingly popular for heating properties and are particularly suited to under-floor heating systems with relatively low flow and return temperatures. Sometimes this is supplemented with fan-coils. If radiators are to be used, they are typically “over-sized” to compensate for fact that water heated by heat pumps for space heating purposes will usually reach around 45 deg C.
Heat pumps and solar thermal systems can also be combined with other renewable technologies to great effect.
Biomass boilers are commonly specified for space heating and hot water, not least because they are an easy switch for rural properties with an oil boiler. But before installation, consider access and available storage space. If the property is in a remote setting, for example, it may be difficult to reach with the regular deliveries of pellets supplied by articulated lorry. Also a silo or hopper will be required for pellet storage, which may prove problematic if there isn’t sufficient space to site one nearby.
Thanks to our guest blogger, Simon Pattinson from Kingspan Environmental for this post.
Simon Pattison is Kingspan Environmental’s training manager, who oversees accredited renewable energy installer courses at the company’s nationwide network of dedicated training centres.
Simon is a qualified electrician and plumber who has worked in the building industry for 20 years.
He trained as a renewable energy installer in Germany, amassing more than 20 qualifications before going on to become a highly respected trainer.
Kingspan Environmental is a leading manufacturer of renewable heat technologies. Its expert team of in-house designers and engineers provide professional advice on choosing and designing systems to suit building projects.