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How to write a brief for a renewable heat system

When you make the decision to install a renewable heating source in your home it is a good idea to write a brief for your project. In this brief you can set out your expectations and use it later as a means to measure the success of the project. This task may seem daunting and you may not know where to start. This blog gives you a guide to writing and structuring the report. This document will be very valuable throughout the course of your project and will ensure you stay on track.

Your brief will be a document that you use from the get-go of your project to install renewable heat in your home. It can be used to interact initially with installers who will give you recommendations and a quote. You can evaluate each quote you receive from various contractors and decide what is best for your home and your budget.

Before you start writing your brief you need to have a good idea about what you want to achieve in your home. The more detailed your report is, the better chance you will have of receiving an accurate quote and so on. When you are planning on spending a significant amount of money on a project, you want to know the end result is exactly what you want.

Outline on how to structure your renewable heat system brief:


Your summary should include general information on the project. You need to give typical information such as whether the project is domestic or commercial, a new build or retrofit. You need to explain the system that is being replaced, if any, and what you want to achieve with your new system. Are you looking to heat you home? When you have explained you aims, give an outline of how you use energy currently. Is your heat on all day long? This will help your installer to understand how best for you to use your new system more efficiently.

Financial plan:

You need to be aware of your budget before you start your project. Renewable systems can cost anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000, and knowing how much you want to spend and what your limit is, is very important. You may decide against sharing this information with the contractors you contact for a quote but you should be aware of how much your project should cost before you start asking.

Energy efficiency standards:

Each renewable heat system installed has to meet standards individual to your local planning authority. You need to contact your local authority and find out the standards you need to meet and include this in your brief. You do not want to go through the entire process only to find out you don’t meet a certain standard.

Planning permission/restrictions:

Your brief should make a note of any planning permission you need to complete your project such as living in a listed building. If you have already sought permission, you need to explain the process here and whether it has been approved or not.

Return on your investment:

There are many incentives for homeowners willing to make the investment to install a renewable heating system. There are some rules you need to follow to benefit from payments made to you under the Renewable heat Incentive:

  • Choose a MCS-approved installer
  • Your property must be adequately insulated
  • You have your home assessed by an assessor

You may want to discuss these regulations with your installer to ensure they are aware of the rulebook here. If they don’t, they probably aren’t going to be the company for you.

Possible restrictions:

You may be feeling very ambitious about your plans for your renewable heat system but many homes have to reassess this when they understand the requirements for each system:

  • Biomass boilers: require large shed for fuel storage and additional space for deliveries.
  • Ground source heat pumps: require you dig up land to install a ground loop connector.
  • Air source heat pumps: relatively low maintenance though louder than ground source.
  • Solar: You need at least five square metres of un-shaded south facing roof.

System control:

Do you want to control the temperature in each room in your home or do you want to set up different flow temperatures at different times of the day? You need to know this before you get started.

Have you recently written a brief for your renewable heat system? Did you add anything else?

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