NAPIT’s Chief Operating Officer, David Cowburn, reflects on the launch of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, exploring what this means for installers and consumers and outlining how to get involved.
According to the Climate Change Committee, there are 29 million existing homes that need to be upgraded to low carbon heating systems by 2050 to reach the Government’s net zero target. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which has been introduced as a replacement for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, aims to encourage the use of low-carbon heating and the replacement of fossil fuel boilers by lowering the upfront cost of installing a heat pump or biomass boiler.
Eligible low carbon heating systems that are commissioned on or after the 1st of April 2022 can access support under the scheme, and grants can be applied for retrospectively. Installers have been able to open an account for the scheme with Ofgem since the 11th of April to prepare for grant applications and payments opening on the 23rd of May. With the rising cost of energy being experienced by many across the UK, this scheme is well placed to assist those who are looking to make energy efficiency improvements within their homes.
The £450 million allocated to the scheme over 3 years will provide £5,000 towards the installation of an air source heat pump and £6,000 towards the installation of ground source heat pumps for on and off-gas grid properties. Additionally, grants of £5,000 are available to install biomass boilers in off-gas grid properties in rural locations. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, when combined with the Chancellor’s recent announcement in his Spring Statement of 0% VAT for 5 years on the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers, is a promising step forward in England and Wales’s journey to decarbonise heat in buildings.
The scheme is installer-led, and householders who live in England or Wales and own a property, whether a home or a small non-domestic property, will be eligible. The scheme is not available to people living in social housing or new builds; however, some self-builds may be eligible. To qualify for the grant a property will need to have a heat demand no greater than 45kWth, as well as a valid Energy Performance Certification (EPC) with no outstanding recommendations for loft or cavity wall insulation, unless there is an insulation exemption, such as the property being a listed building.
Installers must be MCS certified, and they will apply for vouchers on behalf of homeowners through their BUS account. After the installation is completed, vouchers are directly paid to the installer and the value of the voucher is removed from the invoice issued to the customer.
Ofgem has been appointed as the administrative body for this scheme and in our response to their consultation on how to proceed within this role, we called for various steps to be taken to ensure the installers’ role of applying for the voucher was as simple as possible. For example, the installer-led two stage voucher application process has now been simplified and makes use of a lot of pre-existing information such as energy performance certificates (EPCs) and relies on the homeowner providing or seconding information and consenting to the installer making the application on their behalf. This has not only simplified the process but also removed concerns about installers’ liability when relying on information provided by the customer.
Despite the delays to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme’s introduction, the policy is a welcome step towards increasing the uptake of heat pumps in homes in England and Wales and it is pleasing to witness Ofgem’s engagement with industry to enhance the accessibility and simplicity of the application process.
For more information on Ofgem’s administrative role in the Scheme visit here.
Interested in registering for an account with Ofgem, MCS accredited installers, click here.
Looking to become an MCS registered installer, click here.