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Energy Efficiency

Support with efficiency improvements in your owned or rented home October 2021: This guide is currently under review and may be subject to updates in the near future.

1. UK Schemes - Grants for Energy Efficiency

England

Support is available through Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Wales

Support is available through Nest Programme and Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Scotland

Support is available through Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) and Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Northern Ireland

Energy efficiency measures are available including Affordable Warmth and Boiler Replacement schemes

See the Energy Savings Trust website (Northern Ireland section) 

See the NI Direct Energy Saving Schemes section

Eligibility for UK 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 Trust and Simple Energy Advice
Wales: Nest Wales
Scotland: Home Energy Scotland
Northern Ireland: NI Energy Advice

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.

Reviewed: October 2021

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

Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is the main scheme for supporting energy efficiency improvements including insulation and some heating improvements in low income and vulnerable households.

Since it was set up in 2013, the ECO policy has been updated several times. The latest policy, ECO3, commenced on 3 December 2018, and applies to measures completed from 1 October 2018. It is expected to run until March 2022.

Suppliers have one obligation, the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO). Under HHCRO, obligated suppliers must mainly promote measures which improve the ability of low income, fuel poor and vulnerable households to heat their homes. This includes actions that result in heating savings, such as the replacement of a broken heating system or the upgrade of an inefficient heating system.

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 energy regulator, Ofgem, monitors the scheme.

More information

England and Wales: Information on ECO is available on the Simple Energy Advice website

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

Updated: October 2021

3. Green Homes Scheme - England

If you’re a homeowner or residential landlord in England, you can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to your home.

Improvements could include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide your home produces.

How much is it worth?

Vouchers will cover two-thirds of the cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum government contribution of £5,000.

If you, or someone in your household, receive certain benefits, you may be eligible for a voucher covering 100% of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is £10,000. Landlords cannot apply for this low income part of the scheme.

You must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2021.

Who is eligible?

Home owners and landlords in England.

You can check your eligibility for the Green Homes Scheme on the Gov.UK website.

See the Gov.UK website page on the Green Homes Schemes (linked to in How do I apply below) for details of what the voucher can be used to pay for. It also explains the rules around the scheme and other energy efficiency schemes.

How do I apply?

For more information on the scheme and how to apply, see the Gov.UK Green Homes Scheme guidance

The Simple Energy Advice website has information on the Green Homes Grant.

4. 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. It reopened again 

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/have moved 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."

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
  • Helping you fill in application forms for energy grants.

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 

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.

Last updated: January 2021

7. Energy Efficiency: Useful resources

You can use the Gov.UK website's energy grants finder tool to see what might be available to you, depending on where you live and your circumstances.

The energy regulator Ofgem's website has information and support for consumers.

Citizens Advice has information to help you get the best energy deals, apply for energy-related grants and discounts, make energy efficient improvements and much more. Make sure you look at the information relevant to the country of the UK you live in:

If you live in Northern Ireland, see the NI Direct 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.

The Energy Saving Trust website has detailed information on how to save energy at home.  Select the UK country you live in from the dropdown menu on the right-hand side of the home page.

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. 

Independent Age has the following guides:

Turn2us information

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 guide.

Last updated: November 2020