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Energy Efficiency Measures: Grants and Subsidies

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.

What is available depends on the country of the UK you live in.

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

1. Country Schemes - Grants for Energy Efficiency

England

Support is available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Wales

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

Scotland

In Scotland, help is available through the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) and Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Affordable Warmth Scheme offers grants to help improve energy efficiency in households considered to be most at risk of fuel poverty where the total gross annual household income if less than £20,000. It is only available in some areas.

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 through the Housing Executive.

Eligibility for country schemes

You need to check the details of each scheme for eligibility rules as these vary.

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'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.

What help do the schemes provide?

A technical survey of the work proposed is needed to confirm if you qualify for financial assistance. If your home needs to be made warmer, this assistance could cover things like insulation or a new A-rated boiler. This work is carried out by approved installers, is fully guaranteed and under most schemes you don't need to source a suitably qualified installer once you have agreed to the nature and scope of the work proposed.

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

How to claim

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

England: Energy Saving Advice Service
Wales: Nest Wales
Scotland: Home Energy Scotland
Northern Ireland: Energy Efficiency Grants NI

Your local Citizens Advice bureau may also be able to advise further. You can find your local one by using our Find an Adviser tool or by looking at the information for the country of the UK that you live in on the Citizens Advice website:

Local councils

You may be able to apply to your local council for help towards energy efficiency.

2. Energy Company Obligation (England, Scotland and Wales)

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) was in introduced alongside the Green Deal (no longer open to new applications). 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

England and Wales: Information on ECO is available on the Energy Saving Trust website and Gov.UK website.

Scotland: Information on ECO is available on the Energy Savings Trust Scotland website.

3. The Green Deal (England, Scotland and Wales) - now closed to new applications

The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund closed to new applications on 23 July 2015. This is because the Government stopped funding the scheme.

The information below gives you an overview of what the scheme was and how it worked.

Please read the section on Changes to the Green Deal to find out how this affects you if you had Green Deal improvements made to your property before 23 July 2015 or if you are moving into a property where a Green Deal grant has been given.

What was the Green Deal?

The Green Deal, available in England, Scotland and Wales, was a way to make energy efficiency improvements to your home without having to pay 'up front'. Instead, you paid 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 were agreed at the start and the loan stays with the property after the bill payer moves on. The loan can also be paid early.

The scheme was designed to ensure that you wouldn'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.

For more information on how the Green Deal worked, please see the information on the Green Deal on the Gov.UK website.

Changes to the Green Deal July 2015

In July 2015, the Government decided to stop funding the Green Deal. As a result, from 23 July 2015 the scheme was closed to new applications. Companies can no longer sell products under the Green Deal. However, in some parts of the country the accreditations that formed part of the scheme may still be relevant.

If you already have a Green Deal loan in place or were in the process of doing so before 23 July 2015, the Gov.UK website information on the Green Deal states:

"You are not affected if your Green Deal improvements have already been made and you're making repayments through your electricity bill. Your Green Deal provider will still be responsible for any warranties or maintenance specified in your contract with them.

"Contact your provider (Green Deal Provider Search) if you are in the process of arranging energy efficient improvements to your property through the Green Deal.

"If you have a voucher through the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), make sure you get the work done (see Gov.UK information on Getting the work done) and redeem your voucher before it expires."

Future house sales and tenancy agreements

As the repayments for Green Deal improvements are paid through the electricity bill and are linked to the property rather than the person, this will affect future house sales and tenancy agreements where a Green Deal grant has been made.

The consumer charity Which? website's Frequently Asked Questions on the Green Deal states:

"The Green Deal is attached to your property's electricity supply and not to you as an individual, so if you sell your home then your Green Deal arrangement will transfer over to the new owner.

"The existence of the Green Deal must be disclosed to the buyer. If the buyer of your home does not feel comfortable taking over the Green Deal loan, they might want to renegotiate the terms of sale or you could consider repaying the Green Deal off early as part of your conveyance."

4. Feed-in Tariffs (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 subsidy (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. 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.

Martin Lewis's Money Saving Expert website has information on solar panels.

5. 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? 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 include:

  • 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.

From 5 February 2015, there have been changes to the eligibility criteria to make the following eligible for the RHI scheme. However, there is a short amount of time to apply for the RHI scheme for these items:

  • 'Cooker stoves' (biomass stoves with a back boiler that are predominantly designed for space and hot water heating but can also be used for cooking).

  • High Temperature Heat Pumps (a development of existing air source heat pump technology).

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

See the Department for Energy & Climate Change Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive: Changes to Eligibility guidance for more information

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: 0300 003 0744

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has its own Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

For more information, see the NI Direct website information on Renewable Heat Funding.

Updated May 2016

6. 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 where you live in.

England

Registered charity FILT (Foundations Independent Living Trust) works with the local home improvement agencies to help vulnerable and disadvantaged households remain in their own homes warm, safe and secure. The agencies can access funds from FILT on behalf of vulnerable people.

You can find the details of your local home improvement agency using the Foundations website's post code search 

Care and Repair England website can signpost you to home improvements and local home improvement agencies.

Northern Ireland

Home improvement agencies can be accessed via the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Northern Ireland.

Scotland

There are several home improvement agencies in Scotland. See the Care and Repair Scotland website for more information.

Wales

Care and Repair Cymru provides home improvement agency services for people living in Wales.

7. npower Health Through Warmth Scheme (England and Wales)

npower Health Through Warmth (HTW) scheme 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  local council.

8. Energy Efficiency: Useful resources

The Energy Saving Trust website has information about energy and energy efficiency if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland, see the Energy Saving Trust Scotland website.

Citizens Advice Consumer Service can advise you on all matters relating to energy supply, including debt advice and access to cheaper deals. If you live in Northern Ireland, the service is Consumerline.

National Energy Action is a national charity which aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor and vulnerable. There is useful advice about keeping your home warm and paying fuel bills on its website. If you live in Scotland, see the Energy Action Scotland website

Turn2us Energy schemes information provides information about how you can reduce the cost of energy bills.

Acknowledgement

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

Last updated: 23 June 2016

Reviewed by Foundations July 2016 but no changes made.