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RHI will fail to attract support unless focus changes – OFTEC

The Government’s £2.9bn domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme due to be launched in spring 2014 is, as it stands, costly, impractical and unlikely to attract consumers unless the focus changes, OFTEC has said.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show the cost of installing renewable technologies will be prohibitive for all but a few, even with RHI payments.

Additionally, the cost savings from renewable heating systems do not justify the conversion costs even with RHI, which will only pay subsidies for seven years.

At present, the average cost to heat a three-bedroom home using the government’s favoured renewable technology, an air-source heat pump, is only £8 less expensive per annum than using a modern condensing oil boiler.

According to OFTEC, the cost, disruption and impracticability of installing heat pumps will also deter many consumers as, to work effectively, they either need new over-sized radiators to be fitted (although, in the majority of cases, there won’t be space for these), and/or underfloor heating.

These systems will impose considerable disruption on homeowners. Homes also need to be fully insulated and, as many rural properties that the government is targeting are old (pre-1914), cavity wall insulation is often not an option.

OFTEC director-general Jeremy Hawksley said: “Whilst we recognise the need to reduce CO2 emissions from heating and the potential benefit of the RHI policy, it is unlikely to attract the support it needs to make an impact on the UK’s carbon footprint.

“We suggest a more stepped transition to low carbon heat which would see hybrid, or bivalent, solutions with oil or bio-liquid condensing boilers working in tandem with heat pumps.

“This option is recognised in the RHI although only the renewable element of the heat will be grant aided and the high capital cost of the renewable equipment will deter the vast majority of homeowners.”

Readers' comments (4)

  • How is £8 per annum even a measurable quantity to use in a statement of cost comparison? Where do these numbers come from? One or two bad weeks of winter weather can see your bills fluctuate by a more meaningful sum that £8!!! Also why tar all Air Source Heat Pumps with the same brush - there are air to air and there are air to water systems - clearly in this report air to water is being discussed. Facts and figures - come on H&V News - make them tangible.

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  • I find this article and OFTEC's comments absolutely laughable.
    The way it has been plastered on every energy site on the internet is a clear attempt to try and put people off heat pumps.

    I have an Air Source Heat Pump and it replaced my Oil Boiler in 2010. Since then i have cut my bills from 2900 per annum to approx £1500 and that is with constant heating rather than just morning and evening.

    Hopefully most people are intelligent enough to realise that OFTEC are just bitter.

    Heat Pumps are the future and for those on Oil it is a no-brainer even without the RHI.

    I have a friend who installed a Ground Source and their savings are even bigger than mine.

    Providing you go with an MCS accredited company that get the design correct then it will never not make sense.

    OFTEC saying it would work better with Hybrid systems that still tap in to Oil - Of course they would say that - Perhaps they just dont understand what the R in RHI stands for. Idiots.

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  • The article above is drivel, clearly written by someone with an interest in oil and oil boilers. The case for heat pumps v.s oil has been made and proven time after time. Why would the H and V news print such rubbish. i can only assume next week we will see an articel for perpetual motion machines, im disapointed. Regards Graham

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  • Oh come on! This is up there with "those combustion engines will never catch on, the horse will always be with us!"

    How can a fuel at sub 100% burn efficiency and a cost per kWhr of 6pish come out at the same costs as a air source? Gas at 4.5p fine but not oil.

    If you want to see run costs try here and click on the Eco Link Demo.
    There is a hint of sense on the bi-valency comments but not quite a rescue.

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