So, you’ve heard about a free boiler and it sounds too good to be true?
Who qualifies for a grant boiler?
If you receive the correct combination of income-related benefits, including tax credits, income support, ESA or JSA, then you could have your old boiler replaced with a brand new A-rated boiler for little, to no cost.
As well as receiving the correct combination of benefits, your current gas, oil or LPG boiler must be at least over 5 years old. If it is less than 5 years old, the scheme makes an assumption that is is more cost effective to repair your old boiler, than it is to have it replaced on the scheme.
Some of the benefits mean that you will qualify for a boiler grant automatically, with no other requirements. With some others, you may need to have an extra qualifying component such as being responsible for a child under 16, be of a certain age etc.
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- Working Tax Credits
- Pension Credits
- Income-Related ESA
- Income-Related JSA
- Universal Credit
- Child credit
UK Grant boiler scheme – do I qualify and what do I need to do?
The ECO scheme history
Since April 2013 there have been various schemes offered by the government to help reduce carbon emissions and make heating more affordable for homes across the UK. There have been lots of different names for the schemes, but currently all schemes are known as an Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. The latest changes to the scheme started in 2017 and apply to heating systems installed from 1 April 2017. The latest version of the scheme is called ECO2t and is expected to continue until 30th September 2018.
It has been announced that ECO3 will run from 1st October 2018 to 30th March 2022, giving even more opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the home. The aim is to focus ECO3 on those who are financially vulnerable and cannot afford the cost of installing new heating measures. There will also be a focus on insulation and improving the energy efficiency of homes.
Why does it exist?
There are several reasons why the government wants to improve the heating of homes and create an end to what is called ‘fuel poverty’. Some of these reasons include:
- To meet carbon emission targets the energy efficiency of all homes in Britain needs to be improved. Heating systems make a big impact in this.
- Heating bills are rising, and many people cannot afford to heat their homes effectively. This is a social issue which needs addressing across the UK and will improve the health of the country, life expectancy, and general well-being.
- Older, inefficient boilers which are over 10 years old will be burning more fuel than they need to. Boilers installed over 10 years ago are likely to be running at 60-70% efficiency, meaning that a lot of fuel is wasted. A new boiler should be running at 90% efficiency.
- The scheme is funded by the big energy suppliers which means it is not being covered by the taxpayer.
Who can apply?
Under ECO2t there is a list of those who qualify for a heavily reduced cost heating system and in many cases, the heating system will be completely free. You will qualify if you receive at least one of the following benefits and satisfy the relevant income requirements, where applicable:
- Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
- Income support
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
Local authorities are also able to refer residents in their areas to obligated energy suppliers so that they can be offered support under the scheme. In order to benefit from ECO, you must own your own home or have the permission of your landlord.
If you are not on the list of benefits listed, then you will not be able to apply for the scheme. Those who are tenants or not listed as the homeowner need to get permission from the homeowner. This can be difficult if, for example, the owner is in care and there is no power of attorney issued. If in doubt, check with land registry who the home is listed as belonging to and get this amended if their information is incorrect.
You cannot get ECO if you live in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. It only applies to those living in England, Scotland and Wales.
Under ECO3 it has been proposed that the list is increased to include those who receive child benefits, Ministry of Defence administered benefits and some forms of disability benefit, increasing the number those who qualify by roughly 6.5 million.
What can be replaced?
Under ECO2t pretty much any boiler can be replaced, no matter the fuel type. Most of the UK (over 80% of homes) are on the mains gas grid and would have a combi or regular boiler with hot water cylinder. Those homes off the grid are likely to have an oil, coal or electric boiler and all of these can be replaced under the scheme.
Boilers which can be replaced are being limited under ECO3. It has been proposed that to help reach carbon emission targets that any oil or coal boilers will not be replaced under the scheme, so essentially ECO3 will only apply to those homes on mains gas or using electric boilers. Renewable solutions such as Air/Ground source heat pumps do not qualify under this scheme but do get other subsidies under the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Other important things to note
You can benefit from ECO regardless of who you purchase your energy from. You don’t need to buy energy from a specific supplier to qualify. Some suppliers may be able to help you arrange for a new boiler or heating system under the scheme, but there are several independent companies who can offer the same service.
You may be contacted directly by an installer claiming to be working under the ECO scheme. In such circumstances please check the credentials of installers operating under the scheme. There are some companies out there who will claim to get you a free or discounted boiler and then you are left with a large bill at the end of it because they are not registered to provide the service.
It is important to note that if you do qualify for ECO2t or ECO3 this does not necessarily mean that an energy supplier or installer will decide to install an energy efficiency measure in your home. Once an initial survey has been completed it might be decided that there is a better solution for your needs or that the heating system cannot be replaced.
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