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Initially dubbed the ‘Clean Heat Grant’, the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme is set to replace the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) from April 2022.

What is the Boiler Upgrade Scheme?

In light of increasing concerns over climate change and carbon emissions, the government recognises that we need to change the way our homes are heated. Part of this plan is to phase out fossil fuel boilers in favour of low carbon alternatives, like heat pumps.

However, one of the current barriers to switching to a heat pump can be the higher upfront cost in comparison to installing a boiler. This is where the Boiler Upgrade Scheme comes in.

The new Boiler Upgrade Scheme offers:

Any remaining costs towards the installation are then paid by the homeowner.

The idea is that this new upfront incentive will encourage homeowners to make the switch to renewable energy, rather than simply replace their current fossil fuel boiler with a new one.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is just one of the ways in which the UK government is hoping to meet the net-zero emissions target by 2050.

What is the Boiler Upgrade Scheme

Who is eligible for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme?

The government has allocated £450 million to the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which will see around 90,000 households benefit over three years.

As the name suggests, the scheme is focused on encouraging existing properties to upgrade to a heat pump, instead of just installing another fossil fuel boiler.

The emphasis is on upgrading, however, domestic customer builds and light commercial schemes are also eligible.. So whether you’re renovating or building your own home, or living in a non-commercial property, you could apply for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant.

Here’s some more info on eligibility taken from a government document on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme:

“With the exception of custom-build properties, heat pumps will only be eligible where they replace existing fossil fuel systems or direct electric systems and must have a minimum SCOP of 2.8. This scheme will not support fossil fuel hybrid systems or systems used for process heating.”

In addition to this, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will only support systems where the heat pump provides all heating, as well as domestic hot water.

Will the Boiler Upgrade Scheme cover the whole cost?

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is designed to help reduce the total cost of installing a low carbon, renewable heating system. It can save you between £5000-£6000 when installing a heat pump but will not cover the complete cost.

You can expect an air source heat pump system to cost in the region of £10,000, and for a ground source heat pump £15,000-£20,000, depending on the groundworks required.

You can see that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is more appealing if you are looking to install an air source heat pump, covering around half of the cost.

Cost of renewable heating

Which renewable technologies are covered by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme?

As it stands, the renewable heat sources available on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme are air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers. Biomass boilers will only be supported in rural areas and where they replace existing fossil fuel systems, where that system is not fuelled by mains gas, or direct electric systems.

The new scheme covers fewer technologies than its predecessor, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which also provided payments for the installation of solar thermal systems.

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How does the Boiler Upgrade Scheme compare to the Renewable Heat Incentive?

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is different to its predecessor, the Renewable Heat Incentive, as it offers an upfront voucher to lower the cost of installing a heat pump.

The RHI, in comparison, was a tariff based scheme that provided quarterly payments over seven years based on the energy the system produces.

For many average sized homes looking to install an air source heat pump, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a strong incentive. You benefit from an upfront saving of £5000, rather than receiving a similar amount spread out over a seven-year period. It’s an instant saving that you benefit from immediately, which makes renewable heating more accessible.

For larger properties, and those looking to install a ground source heat pump, the return is likely to have been better with the RHI over time, but for many, the idea of an upfront lump sum offered by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is more appealing.
Boiler Upgrade Scheme vs Renewable Heat Incentive

Why should I switch to a renewable energy system?

Aside from the financial incentive offered from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, switching your fossil fuel boiler out for an air or ground source heat pump has lots of benefits.

The biggest of these is their positive impact on the environment. Ground and air source heat pumps are a low carbon heat source. They use electricity – not fossil fuels – to efficiently heat a home. You can save 4500kg of carbon each year by replacing an oil boiler with an air source heat pump, the equivalent of planting 180 trees, or 7 flights from London to New York!

When designed and installed correctly, heat pumps are also incredibly efficient – as much as 400% efficient, where a boiler is around 90%.

As well as being an environmentally friendly and efficient alternative to a fossil fuel boiler, air and ground source heat pumps are low maintenance once installed. A gas boiler tends to need replacing roughly every ten years, whereas the life space of a ground source heat pump is generally 20-30 years.

How can Nu-Heat help?

If you’re considering making the switch to a renewable energy system, then we can help. From ground to air source heat pumps, to underfloor heating and solar thermal – we specialise in low carbon heating and are an MCS accredited company.

If you’d like to learn more about one of our renewable heating systems, then please get in touch with us today, and one of our friendly experts will be more than happy to help.

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