How do I get help?
If your household is in receipt of Universal Credit and you either own your property or you get the green light from your landlord, management company or social housing provider, then you could be chosen to receive help to upgrade your heating system or insulation. The bigger energy companies in Britain have an obligation to help a set number of people to improve their energy efficiency as part of the government’s plans to lower carbon emissions and end fuel poverty.
How many people each company helps is decided based on their share of the domestic energy market in Britain, and the help they can offer varies based on the company and the installers they use. This is why it is always a good idea to shop around to find the best potential deal for you.
There is no guarantee that a particular energy company will supply the heating or insulation upgrades that you need but there are many to try. Best of all, you don’t have to be an existing company to apply for help. You can find a list of what are known as ‘obligated companies’ on the Ofgem website. Ofgem administers the scheme that this financial help forms part of on behalf of the government department called the Department Energy, Business & Industrial Strategy.
Is this too good to be true?
Getting something for nothing from an energy company? You may think that this sounds too good to be true. In fact, there are no hidden catches if your household receives Universal Credit and the applicant satisfies the eligibility criteria. This is because the whole idea forms part of the government’s ECO scheme.
ECO, formally known as the Energy Company Obligation, is an energy efficiency scheme set up by the government in April 2013. Since then, it has undergone several updates, but the latest feature is what is known as the HHCRO or Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation.
The HHCRO requires that obligated suppliers mainly promote measures to improve how people heat their homes if they are experiencing fuel poverty, are on a low income or are classed as living in a vulnerable household. The idea is to focus on promoting and enabling heating savings. This could include upgrading an inefficient heating system or replacing one that has broken. Obligated suppliers may also work with installers to improve your property’s insulation. This could include the addition of loft insulation, solid wall insulation or cavity wall insulation.
If your household is eligible for help, then your neighbour may be too, even if their household doesn’t meet the criteria. This is due to an in-fill mechanism that comes into play if 66 per cent of eligible homes are helped out by the measures.
What type of boiler can qualify for a free ECO central heating grant?
As well as the applicant, the boiler that requires replacing must qualify as well, for a home to receive a free central heating grant via the ECO scheme.
In order to answer the established criteria, the boiler that needs replacing must be operating with an efficiency level no greater than 86 percent of its top capacity. Boilers that are operating with this standard of efficiency are typically rated from C to G, with the most efficient boiler carrying an A rating. Boilers that are around five years old or more are commonly found in this category and will meet the set criteria.
If boilers are confirmed to be damaged beyond viable repair expenses, they are also eligible for a grant as well as those with faults in functionality. Common faults in older models of boiler that could see them qualify include constantly requiring repressurising, pilot lights that won’t stay lit, models that leak water and produce considerable noise or those that are not able to provide basic central heating and hot water.
Even if a boiler has none of these issues, if it is C rated or lower for efficiency or is five years or older, it should be eligible to be replaced for free.