Reader question: As a homeowner in France but a non-resident would I be entitled to government help with a new heat pump?
There is an increasing amount of aid available for energy-saving home renovations, however, the type of aid available can depend on whether the property is a main or a secondary residence.
Be aware though that it is not the status of residency as such that affects eligibility but how the property is used, that is to say whether it is a main home or second home – even French residents cannot apply for certain aids for French second homes.
Heat Pumps (pompe à chaleur, or PAC) are seen as an ecological alternative for heating houses and so can be eligible for a number of schemes where government aid may be given.
There are three main types of heat pumps: air-to-air heat pumps, air-to-water heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps.
The cost can be between €5,000 (the lower end of the scale for air-to-air heat pumps) and €20,000 (for top-range geothermal heat pumps) and aid can differ depending on the heat pump you install.
The main scheme you will be eligible for as a second-home owner is the ‘Energy Savings Certificate bonus’ (Prime des Certificats d’Économies d’Énergie, or Prime CEE).
We have already discussed the Prime CEE in our recent article on solar panels, and the bonus is similar for heat pumps – it is a one-off payment of up to €5,000 paid to you when you make certain eco-friendly renovations to your property.
It relates to a system whereby energy companies have to help people make energy savings, and by doing so they obtain certificates to show the government.
CEE aid for installing an air-to-air heat pump can reach up to around €5,000.
Your home has to be more than two years old to be eligible and you will only receive the grant if the installation of the heat pump is carried out by a firm that has an RGE (Reconnue Garant de l'Environnement) certification.
You can use online tools to check your eligibility for the aid, such as this one from Effy, a company specialised in helping people with energy renovation projects.
Effy states you should send off your claim no later than 15 days after signing your contract with your installer, and send your invoice within 30 days of the work being completed.
Second-home owners can also benefit from a VAT reduction to 5.5% (down from the usual 20%) when installing heat pumps, which is not based on house income but applicable to everybody. Like the Prime CEE however, the home has to be more than two years old.
Local aid may also be available depending on where your property is located – you can always check on local council sites to see which aid may apply.
For example, a scheme in Brittany offers up to €4,000 in aid for installing heat pumps for homes on the Ponant Islands, and is eligible for second homes.
In some areas, eco-friendly work on the home can also give eligibility to a temporary partial or total reduction of taxe foncière property owners’ tax so it would also be worth checking this on local council sites (or directly with your mairie).
Other ecological aids are only available for main homes, such as the MaPrimeRénov’ and the interest-free eco-loan.