FreeHeating Blog - 17th July 2020
The Green Homes Grant Scheme announced last week by the UK Government is set to cover a range of energy efficient upgrades in homes throughout England, but will boilers and central heating systems be included?
The short answer is that no-one knows at this stage because full details have yet to be released. It has been confirmed that vouchers to cover two thirds of the cost of improvements up to the value of £5,000 will be made available to all homeowners. Those on lower incomes will be able to claim a voucher covering the entire cost, up to a maximum value of £10,000.
The Government also stated that the grant will pay for loft insulation, wall insulation, floor insulation and glazing which makes sense because installing these products prevents a large amount of heat escaping from the property. But inefficient boilers and heating systems powered by fuels such as electricity or coal also contribute to global carbon emissions not to mention higher energy bills for consumers.
The main boiler and heating grant scheme currently in operation is the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO). This was established in 2013 to provide funding for low income families. If anyone in a household receives a qualifying income/disability related benefit or tax credit, they are entitled to a grant towards the cost of a new boiler. Central heating can also be funded where there has been no system in place. The benefit criteria is an attempt at identifying households who are likely to be living in fuel poverty but it is not entirely accurate.
Since 2013, ECO funding has been reduced to the point where private tenants no longer qualify for a boiler grant. Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, it may be possible for landlords to claim vouchers as they own the property. Another issue with ECO is that the amount of funding allocated depends on the size and efficiency of the property. Larger properties that are not energy efficient tend to receive more money than smaller, efficient properties. This leads to some applicants having to pay contributions towards the cost that they may not be able to afford.
Those who do not receive a qualifying benefit but have a low income or other hardship such as health problems can sometimes apply to their local authority under the ECO Flex scheme. The criteria is set by each Council so it can vary greatly from one area to another. Anyone who falls outside the ECO or ECO Flex criteria does not currently qualify for any assistance.
If the Green Homes Grant extends to covering boiler replacements and new central heating systems, it will address some of the shortcomings listed above. Tenants could be eligible, contributions may no longer be required from people in receipt of benefits and all other householders could be entitled to some help with the cost.
It may be the case that the qualifying products must be recommended on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property. This was part of the criteria for previous grant schemes such as the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. All homes that are sold or rented out must now have an EPC dated within the last 10 years so it may be worth checking your certificate to see if there are any heating measures recommended. Try searching online for EPC register. As an example, the EPC may recommend replacing your boiler with a new condensing boiler and will give an indication of potential energy bill savings.
The Green Homes Grant is due to open for online applications in September 2020 and we can only wait to see whether grants for new boilers and central heating systems are included. Having these measures in the scheme would be greatly welcomed by both householders and installers whilst helping the Government to meet their climate change targets. To see if you could be entitled to a current ECO Boiler or heating grant, click here to see if you qualify.