Households will be able to apply for substantial grants towards the cost of renewable heating systems, worth up to £1,250 for the biggest installations, starting from August 1.
Biomass boilers burning wood pellets, solar thermal panels for hot water heating, and both air and ground source heat pumps can all be installed with the grants, taking the form of government vouchers. The £15m scheme is part of the ministers’ renewable heat support plans, and will provide funding for up to 25,000 households.
The households to be targeted are the 4m in England, Wales and Scotland not already heated by mains gas, and who therefore tend to use heating oil or electric fires to heat their homes, both of which tend to be more expensive and can lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions. However, Northern Ireland – where 70% of households use heating oil – is not included in the plans.
The grants will be set at £1,250 for a ground source heat pump; £950 for a biomass boiler; £850 for an air source heat pump; and £300 for solar thermal water heaters. On average, this should work out at about 10% of the total cost of the equipment and installation.
Greg Barker, climate change minister, said: “We’re making it more economical for people to go green by providing discounts on the cost of eco heaters. This should be great news for people who are reliant on expensive oil or electric heating as the premium payment scheme is really aimed at them. Getting money off an eco heater will not just cut carbon emissions, it will also help create a market in developing, selling and installing kit like solar thermal panels or heat pumps.”
Landlords will also be encouraged to access the grants to improve their housing stock, with £3m of the £15m on offer set aside for them.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said research undertaken by the organisation had shown people valued having renewable heating installed. He said: “When people have the kit in their homes they really see the benefit. The main barrier that prevents people from taking the plunge is the up-front capital cost. This is a great start in overcoming this obstacle.”
Once households have installed the renewable heating equipment, they may also receive further subsidy payments through the £860m renewable heat incentive when it is introduced next October, though this will depend on the detail of the scheme.