Choosing renewable home heating and energy sources - the options

RiDC has carried out research into the accessibility of renewable home heating and energy sources, including heat pumps (air and ground source) and solar panels.

We investigated information about these sources and gathered operating and installation experiences through a survey, workshops and mystery shopping completed by members of our Consumer Panel.

Due to the rising cost of energy and the impact traditional energy sources have on the environment, you may be thinking about trying to reduce your energy costs longer term whilst also reducing your carbon footprint.  Below we tell you what to look out for if you are considering your options for renewable home heating or energy. This includes:

  • The renewable home heating and energy sources available and links to further information about these sources
  • How to find information on available funding options and the extent to which these are accessible
  • Points to consider when looking to install a renewable energy source with links to various energy supplier websites and support, with how to find the relevant webpages

Renewable energy and heating sources

Detailed, independent information about the various types of renewable energy sources is provided by the Energy Saving Trust:

The most common sources identified in our Consumer Panel research were:

  • Heat pumps (both ground and air source)
  • Solar Panels

On the Energy Savings Trust’s website, you can click on each of the sources to get more detailed information. For example, clicking ‘Heat Pumps’ provides key information about this source, including the different types.

Grant funding support

Our consumer research into the availability of funding found that this is a complex area that requires a lot of time spent on investigating your options. Grants are limited and eligibility varies according to your nation (Scotland and Wales have separate schemes to England), house and tenure type, as well as current boiler.

The Government website provides some information on how to minimise your energy usage. By clicking on ‘start now’, you will be taken to a short survey where you will be asked to respond to a few personalised questions. You may need to provide your postcode. This webpage will also direct those residing in either Scotland or Northern Ireland to a separate link.

The main grant option currently available is the Boiler upgrade scheme (BUS). This offers £5,000 off the installation cost of an air source heat pump and £6,000 off a ground source heat pump. The BUS grant is only available to homeowners. There are also criteria around energy performance for eligibility. New build properties are largely ineligible. 

Some support is also available for those who have installed solar panels in terms of generating energy and exporting it back to the grid. This is through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff.


In Scotland, the ‘Renewable Heat Scheme for homeowners’ promotes the uptake of renewable energy by providing financial support of sums reaching £13,500 (the website has further details of exact support available). This payment reaches £7,500 for the heating source itself. This scheme is unfortunately only available to those who own their property.


In Wales, the ‘Warm Home Nest Scheme’ provides independent guidance relating to energy consumption. However, depending on eligibility criteria, some financial support may be available.  

For detailed eligibility criteria, there is more on the website.

Northern Ireland

The ‘Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme’ information outlines potential funding available in NI:

Installation – what to look out for?

The installation of any alternative heating or energy source can take time. Our research found that prior to installation it is important for all disabled and older consumers to discuss with installers and be aware of:

  • How long the installation will take
  • How long their home will be without heating and / or energy
  • What the implications might be for charging any medical or mobility equipment and heating and hot water requirements they have.


There is independent advice from the Energy Savings Trust on potential ways to minimise energy expenditure over a period of time, whilst providing estimates of the expenses incurred and potential savings of making various changes. Please note these are general estimates and will differ depending on the home you live in.

Installer information

Information about installation is available on the following websites:

British Gas

There is additional information about air source heat pumps.

Details include:

  1. The science behind the functioning of air source heat pumps
  2. The efficiency of this type of heat source
  3. Potential sources of financial support.


When you visit the EON website and click on ‘heating’ at the top of the page, you will find information on both air source heat pumps as well as potential funding options available

Scottish Power

When you visit the Scottish Power website and click on ‘Smart Living’ you will have access to information about various renewable energy options

EDF Energy

When you visit the EDF Energy website and click on ‘Boilers and heating’ you will find information about various renewable energy options. You can find information on various schemes available by clicking on ‘energy efficiency’


When you visit the Ofgem website and click on ‘Information for consumers’ you will find not limited to but including, information on potential funding options and on support when looking into the Priority Services Register.

The Energy Savings Trust

By clicking on ‘Energy at home’ you will find information on potential funding options as well as detailed information about renewable energy.

Other considerations - size of the renewable energy source

It is important to be mindful of the size of the renewable energy source you are planning to install to consider whether there is enough space for it in your home or garden and if so, whether it could become a trip hazard.

If you need information on size estimates of various energy sources depending on the type of building you live in this is an excellent resource.

This work was funded through the Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme administered by the Energy Savings Trust.