There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s evening than the warm glow of a wood burner in the corner of the room. Wood burners are very environmentally friendly, and a recent survey suggests that heating a home using a wood burner costs just 2.5p per megawatt hour, compared with 4p for the same quantity of gas, and 11p for electricity.
They’re also fashionable and practical, and there are several government initiatives which make the installation of wood burners in homes a more affordable option for consumers.
Renewable Heat Incentive
Although not aimed directly at wood burners, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) covers other related products such as biomass stoves, or burners designed to run on both wood and other materials such as pellets. This government scheme is currently in the consultation stage, and will replace the current scheme called the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme.
Under the RHPP, homeowners or landlords who decide to switch their heating to a renewable source can claim vouchers from the government to help offset the cost. The scheme applies throughout the UK apart from Northern Ireland, and the vouchers on offer are substantial. Currently, homeowners can claim £2,000 towards the cost of installing a biomass boiler £600 towards solar hot water heating and there are also vouchers for air to water heat pumps and ground source heat pump technology.
There are various criteria to be met in terms of insulation and gaining any planning permissions first, but the voucher system is generous enough to pay the cost of the new boiler or pump, leaving homeowner to cover just the installation costs.
The Green Deal is also a more general scheme which is aimed at making British properties and businesses more energy efficient. Green Deal differs from other environmental programmes in that it is a loan rather than a grant. Cashback is paid to homeowners or businesses which undertake work such as insulating their loft space, switching to a more renewable form of heating, or getting windows double glazed.
There are a few rules for Green Deal, and homes and businesses have to have an assessment to quantify projected savings before the work starts. Work has to be carried out through a company which has been awarded Provider or Installer status by the Green Deal organisation, and the money for the improvements is paid off monthly or quarterly through electricity bills.
Community Sustainable Energy Programme (CSEP)
It’s not just homes and businesses which have been hit by rising fuel bills in a recession, as there are a huge number of charities who are finding it almost impossible to heat offices, community centres, youth clubs and other similar projects. The Community Sustainable Energy Programme was setup to try to address these issues and is run in conjunction with the National Lottery. Grants were available through the CSEP for the installation of wood burners and wood fuelled boilers, as well as other environmental measures such as cavity wall insulation or solar panels.
Unfortunately this has now closed, which leads me on to talking about defunct schemes.
The problem with researching what grants may be available for installing wood burners is that schemes open and then close with amazing speed. Governments and priorities change, and the money available can be withdraw almost overnight.
Schemes such as the Low Carbon Building Programme, which gave grants to builders to provide efficient housing have come and gone, as has the Boiler Scrappage Scheme which allowed homeowners to claim against the cost of replacing a very old, inefficient boiler with a more modern one.
The situation also differs across the UK, with different schemes operating in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and some which cover the whole country. Before committing to buying and installing a wood burner on the strength of receiving a government grant or rebate, check and double check the terms and conditions to ensure you or your business qualify for funding. Often the best people to speak to are the wood burning stove retailers, as it is their business to stay up to date with the current legislation and to know what grants are on offer to consumers.