Brits unaware of renewable heating options ahead of RHI launch

A new report claims that homeowners are unaware of renewable heating options despite 78% of domestic energy use in the UK being spent on heating.

The Renewable Heat Report, published by renewable heating company Innasol and analyst group Frost & Sullivan, reveals that the British public are generally unaware of what options are available to them for generating renewable heat.

In addition, those surveyed who were aware of renewable heating options expressed suspicion over the costs that would be involved in switching to renewable heating solutions.  

The paper estimates that the average UK household spends £816 on their annual heating bill, after facing an average energy bill rise of 17% per year for the last decade. With 38% of the UK’s total carbon emissions derived from heating homes and businesses, the need for renewable heat remains imperative if the UK is to drastically cut its emissions.

To that end, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is preparing to launch the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Spring this year – the world’s first incentive programme for renewable heat.    

The report estimates that the introduction of the RHI could help homeowners cut their annual heating bill by more than 45% by installing measures supported under the scheme such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal.  

Silvio Spiess, CEO of Innasol remained upbeat about the potential of the upcoming RHI, stating: “The UK is poised for a heating revolution. Increasing fuel bills are tightening the home purse strings even further, sometimes to the point where many cannot afford to heat their homes adequately. Through the introduction of RHI, the government is encouraging us to escape this strangle hold.”

However, Spiess warned: “According to the report’s survey, the main reason UK residents are missing out on these renewable heating financial incentives is due to a lack of awareness of the technologies available and a lack of understanding of their benefits. By taking action and switching your heating to renewable sources, you will save yourself money – upwards of 45% – and become far more efficient and significantly reduce your carbon footprint, becoming more environmentally responsible.”

Jonathan Robinson from Frost & Sullivan added: “Renewable heating is the fastest growing area within the already large UK renewable energy industry. In 2010/11 it was worth £12.5 billion, growing at eight times the rate of the UK’s economy. DECC recently estimated that an additional 750,000 renewable heating systems need to be installed by 2020 to help the UK meet its 2020 carbon targets. The existing renewable heat incentive for businesses and the new incentive for home owners due to be launched in the spring should help, although this report shows much more needs to be done to raise the awareness of renewable heating solutions so the economic and environmental benefits are fully understood by homeowners and businesses alike.”

David Rae, a contributor to the report, warned that there was still a substantial between governmental rhetoric and actual delivery, he said: “The government needs to put its money where its mouth is. They say they are committed to converting to renewable heating solutions but have only put enough funds aside for a tiny number of UK homes within the upcoming RHI.

“What’s really disappointing is that the market leading renewable heat technology across Europe is biomass and the new incentive supports less than 5,000 of these installations, Innasol converted more than 650 properties to biomass last year alone. The UK government still has a tremendous amount to learn when it comes to what really are the cost effective and convenient renewable heat technologies available today.”

The introduction of the domestic RHI and the opportunity it presents renewable installers will be discussed in the upcoming Solar Energy UK roadshows, which will visit six locations across the UK in February.

Full details and booking information can be found on the Solar Energy UK roadshows website.