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Grants and schemes to help with energy efficiency

Key information

If you need help with energy efficiency improvements in your privately-owned or rented home, there are a number of schemes that may be able to help - from the Government, energy suppliers, local councils and other sources.

Applies to: What is available depends on what country you live in.

Some schemes are only available to people on low incomes or certain benefits.

Taxable: No

Administered by: Depends on the scheme

 

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links: 

Country schemes

England

Support is available through the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal.

Wales

In Wales, support is available through the Nest Programme, Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).

Scotland

In Scotland, help is available through the Home Energy Scotland programmes, Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Warm Homes Scheme offers grants to help improve energy efficiency.

If you are a home owner, your income is less than £40,000 and your boiler is over 15 years old, you can apply for the Boiler Replacement Scheme (link opens in a new window) through the Housing Executive.

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Eligibility

For some schemes, you need to be getting certain means-tested or income-related benefits to qualify for a grant. For example, you may qualify if you are getting one or more of the following benefits and depending on where you live:

You may also get help if you're getting Tax Credits and your income is below a certain level.

You'll need to contact the scheme provider in the country where you live to find out how much help you can get. This is because some benefits may not entitle you to receive the full package of energy efficiency improvements.

The organisations listed in the Getting energy advice section would also be able to advise you further about the schemes you might be eligible for.

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What help do the schemes provide?

A technical survey of the work is needed for the existing heating system in your property to find out if you qualify for a grant. If your home needs to be made warmer, the grant could cover things like insulation or a replacement boiler. The work is carried out by recommended installers. You don't arrange for it to be done.

All the schemes offer free energy saving advice to everyone, even if you don't qualify for a grant to make your home warmer. You may also be able to get a free benefits check to make sure you're not missing out on other money.

The technical survey identifies the value of the work that needs to be done.

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How to claim

You can get more information about how to apply for money for home energy efficiency schemes as follows:

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Energy Companies Obligation (England, Scotland and Wales)

The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) has been introduced alongside the Green Deal. It aims to save carbon and get efficient boilers and insulation into the homes of vulnerable people across Great Britain. 

ECO is split into three elements:

  • Affordable Warmth - which may provide free energy saving measures to low-income and vulnerable households (Please note: You can't get this help if you are a social housing tenant)
  • Carbon Saving Obligation - to provide funding to insulate solid-walled properties (internal and external wall insulation) and those with 'hard to treat' cavity walls.
  • Carbon Saving Communities - to provide free insulation and glazing measures to people living in the bottom 15% of the UK's most deprived areas. It is expected that this part of ECO will particularly benefit people in social housing. You have to be on a low income and live in certain areas where the population size is below 10,000.

Please note that it does not have to be the bill payer's circumstances that qualify a property for support from ECO. Anyone who resides at an address can meet the criteria for the property to benefit.

The scheme runs until 2017. The energy regulator, Ofgem, monitors the scheme.

More information on ECO

England and Wales: Information on ECO is available on the Energy Saving Trust website (link opens in a new window) and Gov.UK website (link opens in a new window)

Scotland: Information on ECO is available on the Energy Savings Trust Scotland website (link opens in a new window).

The Green Deal (England, Scotland and Wales)

The Green Deal, available in England, Scotland and Wales, is a way to make energy efficiency improvements to your home without having to pay 'up front'. Instead, you pay for it for it by instalments on your electricity bill, for a period of up to 25 years. Paying through your bill is like a loan – but for your property, not the person. The payments are agreed at the start and the loan stays with the property after the bill payer moves on. The loan can also be paid early, but penalty charges apply.

The Green Deal is designed to ensure that you won't pay back more than you are saving on your energy bill. This is called the Golden Rule. However, this is not a guarantee. The actual costs may exceed the estimated savings. For example, if your energy use increases or there is a fall in energy prices.

The Green Deal is not means tested.

What steps are involved?

  • Ring the Energy Saving Advice Service for your country. See Getting energy advice. They will advise on what you may be eligible for and put you into the system for an assessment to be carried out.
  • Assessment: A Green Deal assessor or advisor assesses your home and recommends energy saving improvements through a Green Deal advice report. This may not be free of charge. The Energy Saving Advice Service will let you know if this is the case.
  • Finance: A Green Deal provider gives you a quote for a Green Deal plan to pay for the improvements based on the Green Deal advice report. The will estimate the likely savings on your energy bills as a result of having the measures installed, and the likely period over which these savings will be made to ensure you are not paying back more than you are saving on your energy bills. You are free to shop around for price of work but must use a registered green deal installer.
  • Installation: A Green Deal installer makes the improvements agreed under your Green Deal plan. Repayment: You pay for these improvements through instalments on your electricity bill.

See the information on the Green Deal on the Gov.UK website (link opens in a new window).

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has an online Find a Green Deal Company tool (link opens in a new window).

It is important to consider the pros and cons of the Green Deal before deciding to use it. The consumer charity Which? has information on the Green Deal and ECO (link opens in a new window) including information about their investigation into the Green Deal.

Green Deal incentive schemes

Government 'cash back' incentive schemes are available to reward households that take early action to improve the energy efficiency of their home through the Green Deal.

For more information, see:

Northern Ireland

The Green Deal and ECO are not available in Northern Ireland and we do not know if these schemes will be available there at a later date.

NI Direct website has information on energy saving grants for people living in Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window).

Other sources of help

Feed-in Tariffs scheme (FITs)

If you install electricity generating technology from a renewable or low carbon source (e.g. wind turbines or solar PV, you may be able to get money from your energy supplier through the UK Government's Feed-In Tariffs scheme (FITs).

Through FITs, you can be paid for electricity you generate (even if you use it yourself) and any surplus electricity you export to the national grid (the network that connects power stations in the UK). You also save money on your electricity bill because you are using your own electricity.

See the Energy Saving Trust website for more information on the Feed-in Tariffs scheme (link opens in a new window)

Martin Lewis's Money Saving Expert website has information on solar panels (link opens in a new window).

Home improvement agencies

Home improvement agencies (HIAs) assist vulnerable homeowners and private sector tenants who are older, disabled or on a low income to repair, improve, maintain or adapt their homes. The help they provide may include suggesting and organising improvements to help with energy efficiency; advising on any funding sources (national and local) that may be available to you; and helping you fill in application forms for this support.

They are generally local, not-for-profit organisations.

What is available and how you access help depends on the country of the UK you live in.

England

Care and Repair England website (link opens in a new window) can advise on home improvements and local home improvement agencies.

Foundations (link opens in a new window), the national organisation in England for home improvement agency and handyperson services, administers a fund from the energy company npower to help vulnerable people on low incomes to replace or renew their boilers or repair their heating.

They also have a Foundations Independence Living Trust (FILT)  (link opens in a new window) which helps older and vulnerable people live with dignity in their own homes. The Trust gives funds to enable local home improvement agencies to provide a range of support including repairs and improvements to people’s homes.

You can also find the details of your local home improvement agency (including local Care and Repair organisations)  through a postcode search tool on the Foundations website. home page.

Northern Ireland

Home improvement agencies can be accessed via the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window).

Scotland

There are several home improvement agencies in Scotland. See the Care and Repair Scotland website (link opens in a new window) for more information.

Wales

Care and Repair Cymru (link opens in a new window) provides home improvement agency services for people living in Wales.

Local councils

You may also be able to apply to your local council (link opens in a new window) for help towards energy efficiency.

npower Health Through Warmth Scheme (England and Wales only)

  • npower Health Through Warmth (HTW) scheme (link opens in a new window) was set up in 2000, working together with National Energy Action (NEA), the national fuel poverty charity, and the NHS. HTW aims to improve levels of warmth, comfort and quality of life for vulnerable people who have cold-related illnesses and need help with the installation of heating and insulation measures or repairs to existing systems or appliances which they can’t afford themselves. HTW is available across England and Wales to vulnerable people who meet the eligibility criteria. You don't have to be or become an npower customer to receive help from HTW - the scheme can consider helping you as long as you have a long term health condition, own the home and have low income/savings.
  • You may be able to find out more about local energy efficiency schemes from your your local council (link opens in a new window).

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

England, Scotland and Wales

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a Government financial scheme to promote the use of renewable heating, which can help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and the country's effects on climate change. 

There are two schemes:

  • Domestic RHI scheme: The renewable heating system has to heat only one property which has or is capable of getting a domestic Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to prove the property has been assessed as a domestic dwelling.
  • Non-domestic RHI scheme: This scheme is for renewable heating systems in commercial, public or industrial premises where one heating system might serve multiple places - such as hospitals, schools and businesses.

These are both managed by the energy regulator Ofgem but they have separate tariffs, joining conditions, rules and application processes.

You can only join one scheme.

If your property set-up is complicated

If you don't know which scheme your property fits into or the situation does not quite fit the descriptions above, see the Ofgem fact sheet: The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): Domestic or Non-domestic? (link opens in a new window) for more information.

How does the scheme work?

People who join the scheme and stick to its rules receive quarterly payments for seven years for the amount of clean, green renewable heat their heating system produces.

Who is eligible?

The scheme is open to any household that meets the eligibility criteria - whether they are off or on the gas grid.

If you are off mains gas, you have the most chance to save on your fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions through this scheme.

What is renewable heating?

The technologies currently covered by the scheme are:

  • Biomass heating systems, which burn fuel such as wood pellets, chips or logs to provide central heating and hot water in a home. Biomass-only boilers are designed to provide heating using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water. Pellet stoves with integrated boilers are designed to burn only wood pellets and can heat the room they are in directly, as well as provide heat to the rest of the home using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water.
  • Ground or water source heat pumps, which extract heat from the ground or water. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home.
  • Air to water heat pumps, which absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home.
  • Solar thermal panels, which collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. The two types of panels that are eligible are evacuated tube panels and liquid-filled flat plate panels.

Only one space heating system is allowed per property but homeowners can apply for solar thermal for hot water and a space heating system.

Renewable Heat Incentive: more information and applications

To find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive or to apply, see:

If you can't apply online,  contact Ofgem on telephone: 0845 200 2122).

You can also apply

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has its own Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. For more information, see the NI Direct website information on Renewable Heat Funding (link opens in a new window).

Useful resources

  • The Energy Saving Trust (link opens in a new window) has information about energy and energy efficiency. Please make sure you are looking at the information relevant to the country of the UK you live in.
  • Home Heat Helpline (link opens in a new window) is a free service available to people living in England, Scotland and Wales that advises people worried about paying their fuel bills and keeping warm during the winter. It also gives advice to low-income households in urgent need of heating help and advice. Call them on 0800 33 66 99 (Minicom: 0800 027 2122).

Acknowledgement

Turn2us would like to thank Alistair Wilcox of Motherwell Citizens Advice Bureau and the representatives of Energy Action Scotland, Foundations and Nest for reviewing this information page.

Last updated: 10 April 2014

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