French grants covered 30% costs to replace my old oil-fired boiler

A French resident describes how she got €5,300 worth of subsidies to upgrade her home’s heating system

A Connexion reader says it was fairly straightforward to get grants to cover part of the cost of installing a new heating system
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A French resident has described her experience of applying for grants to help fund the replacement of the oil-fired boiler in her home with new, more efficient systems, saying it was ‘fairly straightforward’.

Catherine, a retiree who lives in Gard with her husband, received four grants worth a total of €5,300 to fund work that cost just under €16,000.

She replaced the oil-fired boiler with an air to water heat pump (pompes à chaleur air/eau) and a thermodynamic water heater (chauffe-eau thermodynamique).

“We moved here in early 2020 about a week before the first lockdown. The house is 50 years old and had a very old oil-fired boiler (chaudière au fioul) that we wanted to get rid of,” Catherine told The Connexion.

“We asked a sub-contractor that we knew from installing solar panels to give us a quote for a heat pump, and he suggested one for heat and separate one for hot water, so that the one for heat could be turned off completely in the summer months.”

In total, Catherine and her husband were eligible to apply for four grants, two for each of the two different systems.

The grants came from the Ma Prime Rénov’ and the Certificat d'économie d'énergie (CEE) schemes.

Read our guide to applying for home renovation grants in France here: Explained: How to apply for a renovation grant for your French home

Read more: CEE: France’s home renovation grant for main and second homes

Ma Prime Rénov’ and CEE breakdown

Catherine and her husband fell into the violet category for the Ma Prime Rénov’ grant based on their combined income. This is the second highest category and covers couples who earn up to a total of €42,848 per year.

It should be noted that couples who earn more than this amount and fall into the pink category are not eligible for a Ma Prime Rénov’ grant for air to water heat pumps and thermodynamic water heater, but they can still get CEE grants.

For the pompes à chaleur air/eau, which cost around €13,000 in total to buy and install, they received €2,000 from the Ma Prime Rénov’ scheme and €2,800 from the CEE scheme.

For the chauffe-eau thermodynamique, which cost around €2,750 to buy and install, they got €400 from the Ma Prime Rénov’ scheme and €100 from the CEE scheme.

This combines to a total of €5,500 in grants, about 30% of the total cost.

For more information on the Ma Prime Rénov’ grant scheme, see here (in French).

Applying for the grants

CEE grants

Catherine said that the sub-contractor they hired took care of the CEE grants completely and that she did not have to do anything to get them.

The scheme obliges energy suppliers (EDF, Engie, TotalEnergies, etc.) to obtain 'CEE' energy certificates (and thus avoid financial penalties) by funding renovation works aimed at improving the energy efficiency of households.

She said that the money the sub-contractor got from the CEE grants was taken off the final price he charged Catherine and her husband.

Ma Prime Rénov’ grants

It was a little bit more complicated for the Ma Prime Rénov’ grants.

Catherine said she had to send the sub-contractor her and her husband’s recent tax returns and a receipt of their taxe foncière payment.

The sub-contractor then went on the Ma Prime Rénov’ website to get an estimate for what grants they were eligible for. Catherine said he gave them an estimation that was “accurate to the last centime”.

She said that she then had to go on Ma Prime Rénov’ herself and set up an account, after which their grants were approved in principle.

They then had to wait several months between October and February 2021 for the work to start as there was a shortage of heat pumps at the time.

The work was carried out between February 9 - 11, 2022. After this, the tradespersons gave them paperwork to show that the work was finished and said that they should now apply for the Ma Prime Rénov’ grants.

“Once we paid for the work, the sub-contractor applied for the Ma Prime Rénov’ grant for us in early March and an inspector phoned late March to say he would come on April 1 to check the work had been done,” Catherine said.

“We then received another email from Ma Prime Rénov’ approving everything and the money was in our account around April 18. So that part was all pretty straight forward.”

Tips and advice

Catherine said one top tip was that when setting up an account on Ma Prime Rénov’, choose a password that you do not normally use as you may want to share account access with your contractor, which is what she did.

She said that setting up the Ma Prime Rénov’ account was relatively simple and the contractor helped with the parts she did not understand.

Equally, she claimed that it definitely helped that she was able to speak French as she was able to deal with the Ma Prime Rénov’ inspector’s call, which came out of the blue.

She said that otherwise a neighbour or friend would be able to help with other language elements. Her sub-contractor also spoke a little English.

Finally, she said that if anyone else is having an oil-fired boiler removed, then they should know that there is another Ma Prime Rénov’ grant, worth up to €400 for people in the violet category, to get the oil storage tank removed.

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