Can I Get a Heat Pump for Free?

This May the energy regulators Ofgem updated the Renewable Heat Incentive, making some important changes to make solar thermal, heat pumps, and biomass boilers available to a lot more people. There is even an opportunity for free heat pumps.

Heat Pumps

Based on similar technology to air conditioners and freezers, heat pumps use the heat found in air, water or the ground and compress it using electricity. This compression causes the extracted warmth to heat up further and then used for either water or space heating.

Heat pumps are considered a renewable form of heating because, for every unit of electricity they use, they produce multiple units of useable heat. This number fluctuates between types of heat pump, as well as between individual makes, models, and installation setups.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps use pipes running deep into the ground to pick up the residual heat there and convert it to useable warmth for your home. They require a substantial amount of work to install and can be very expensive – we’re talking tens of thousands of pounds – however once installed they work better than any other heat pump during the winter months.

Water source heat pumps also fall under the ‘ground source heat pump’ umbrella as far as the RHI legislation is concerned. These are somewhat less invasive to install, but require a large body of water and are more susceptible to changes in the weather and seasons.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps work in a similar way, but they use the warmth in the air. No matter what the weather, there will always be a certain level of heat it can use, though obviously in winter months this is significantly lower. That means that an air source heat pump is significantly worse at heating in the winter month, which is less than ideal. That said, many people do find them worthwhile investments, and they’re a fraction of the cost of ground or water source heat pumps.

How to Get A Heat Pump For Free

We’ve often complained that the RHI is a system that only rewards the wealthy, since a substantial amount of disposable income is necessary for the original outlay. With the right property and heating system, the RHI quarterly payments in addition to potential fuel savings, it enough to make these technologies a very desirable investment, however for those without thousands of pounds sitting around in their banks, it’s not been an option.

The update to the RHI which helps those with lower incomes to get initial funding for heat pumps, solar thermal, and biomass boilers, is called an assignment of rights. Assignment of rights is essentially when a nominated party agrees to pay for the installation of the technology (meaning you get the heat pump for free), and in return, they receive all of the RHI payments.

So you get a free heat pump, but don’t get any RHI payments on it. It’s a lot like the free solar panel schemes that everyone went wild for a few years ago with the Feed-in Tariff.

To get a free heat pump, you have to find a registered investor willing to pay. To be a Domestic RHI Registered Investor, they must be on either The Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) or the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES). If Ofgem has any reason to think that the company is anything less than completely trustworthy and above board then the application won’t go through.

It’s really important that you understand the process completely if you’re attempting to go forward with an assignment of rights in order to get a free heat pump. The official Ofgem guide can be found here.

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