How to apply for RHI
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) provides payments to people who use renewable energy to heat their homes. Our guide explains how to work out whether you're eligible, the application process and what you need to do to ensure you don't miss out on payments.
We've also put together an easy-to-follow checklist to help make sure you don't miss out on any of the steps you need to follow. Click to download:
Are you eligible for RHI?
To be eligible for the domestic RHI scheme, you must own a renewable technology and own or occupy the property it's in. So applicants need to be either:
- an owner occupier
- a social landlord
- a private landlord; or
- a self-builder.
Unless a new-build property is custom-built, it is not currently eligible for RHI payments. Custom-built homes must be built by you (or the first owner), owned only by individuals (not companies), and not occupied until after the renewable heating system is commissioned.
The domestic RHI scheme is for heating systems for single properties only. If there is a renewable heating system supporting more than one home, such as a block of flats, then residents or landlords may be able to apply for the non-domestic RHI scheme. There are some exceptions to this, however.
Some systems that provide heat to multiple buildings are eligible for the domestic RHI. This includes if you have a dwelling plus a:
- swimming pool in an annexe
- commercially used building (eg an office or stables).
Although the scheme was designed to help households that are off the gas grid (whose heating bills are typically higher), you also qualify if you have a gas-fired heating system and want to start producing renewable heat for your home.
The RHI scheme in Northern Ireland was closed to new applicants in 2016 but is still running for existing applicants.
How to apply for RHI in five easy steps
Here are the five steps you need to take before installing a renewable heating system and applying for RHI.
1. Will RHI save you money?
Spend time researching renewable heating systems and equipment now, to help avoid costly mistakes or payment problems later.
2. Do you have a valid EPC?
Before you can install any renewable heat technology and before you can claim RHI, you must have a valid (EPC) that is no more than two years old and accurately reflects your home. So if you’ve had building work done, you may need a new EPC that’s up to date.
If your EPC recommends loft and cavity wall insulation, you must install it and get a new EPC before you can apply for RHI payments. There are some exceptions, however.
3. Know the RHI scheme rules
To receive RHI payments for the maximum seven years, you’ll need to comply with the rules of the scheme throughout. These include making sure your chosen heating system is Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified and installed by an MCS installer (see below), meets EN (European) standards and fits the criteria specific to the relevant heating type (eg there are rules on emissions for biomass).
4. Find an installer
Take time in choosing your installer, and make sure they visit your home to give an accurate estimate of future RHI payments from your renewable heat system. Look for firms selling renewable heat systems that are part of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC).
The installer has to be MCS certified for that particular renewable heat technology, and will need to supply you with an MCS certificate number for your system to prove it is quality assured.
5. Apply for RHI
You should fill out the RHI application form and submit it to the energy regulator, Ofgem.
The application is free to submit, so make sure you only apply through the rather than through an application-management organisation that will charge a fee. If you can't apply online, phone Ofgem on 0300 003 0744 to complete the application over the phone with an adviser.
You previously had to apply to Ofgem within 12 months of your renewable system being commissioned to qualify for RHI payments, but this has been relaxed due to the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. If your installation was commissioned on or after 1 March 2019, you now have until 31 March 2022 to apply.
As there are a lot of stages you need to remember to qualify for payments, we've pulled together all this information for you to download and keep. Click to download:
Eligible renewable heating technologies for RHI
Here are the types of heat technology that are eligible for RHI:
- (air-to-water, but not air-to-air)
- High-temperature heat pumps
- (must use solid biomass fuel and be predominantly for space and water heating)
- Biomass cooker stoves (biomass stoves with a back boiler predominantly designed for space and hot water heating)
- (flat plate and evacuated tube)
If you have previously installed a renewable heating system in your home, or before you choose which technology to install, make sure you check the to ensure your system is authorised to receive RHI payments.
If you want to install a heat pump, carefully check on the Product Search section of the that the heat pump you're getting is MCS certified and complies with the new Energy-related Product Directive (ErP). If it doesn’t, it won’t qualify for RHI payments.
Solar photovoltaic panels are not eligible for RHI, as it’s specifically designed for renewable technologies that heat buildings. The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) pays households that generate their own electricity from renewable sources, such as solar electricity (PV) panels or wind turbines.
Your renewable heating system: will it need a meter?
Your renewable heating system will need to be metered if you:
- install a biomass boiler but still have an oil boiler as a back-up heater
- have a hybrid technology combining a heat pump and oil or gas boiler
- have more than one renewable technology to heat your home
- your biomass system only heats part of your home; or
- your property is occupied for less than half the year.
Your installer will advise you on this and on how to get the meter fitted. You must use anMCS-certified installer to install all meters.
It has been a requirement since May 2018 for pumps to have an electricity meter installed.
RHI payments to a third-party investor (Assignment of Rights agreement)
You may come across companies that will help fund your renewable heating system in exchange for receiving your RHI payments. This could make renewable heating an option for you if you can’t afford the upfront costs of installing it. But there are specific rules around these types of agreements that you should know before you apply.
An Assignment of Rights (AoR) agreement allows an investor to help fund buying and/or installing a renewable heating system and receive the RHI payments for it in return.
It was launched in June 2018 to stop other third-party financing models using the RHI, Ofgem said. So if you’re tempted, make sure the agreement you’re considering meets the rules. These include that:
- the investor must contribute to some of the costs of the system, although you can partially fund it yourself.
- the investor is not allowed to own your heating system, nor repossess it.
The RHI application process is largely the same as if you were going to receive the payments yourself (see above). However, you must specify that you wish to apply under Assignment of Rights and nominate your ‘registered investor’ (the company you agree will receive the RHI payments).
Before you can apply, your investor must be registered with Ofgem, otherwise it will not be able to receive the payments. Ofgem pays RHI directly to the investor company. You should never receive the payments yourself and pass them on.
In your application you’ll need to provide the following to Ofgem:
- the investor’s Unique Registered Investor Reference (URIR)
- the investor’s contract ID
- the contract between you and the investor.
You must complete the form to apply for RHI yourself. The investor is not permitted to do this for you.
Once you've submitted your RHI application
Once you have submitted your application, Ofgem aims to respond within 10 working days to update you on its progress. Applications can be delayed if documents are missing or if Ofgem needs to confirm any details.
You’ll be sent a ‘statement of eligibility’ when your application is successful. This contains information about your payment dates and what you need to do to keep receiving them, such as keeping your system in good working order and telling Ofgem about any changes in ownership.
Some applications are reviewed in more detail by Ofgem. If this is the case, it will email you to confirm whether your application has been granted or accepted. Sometimes approval may come with specific conditions you must meet to get your payments.
RHI is attached to the property, not the inhabitants. So if you move home, the new occupiers will have to take over maintenance of the system and will receive the RHI payments.