The government's Green Deal, intended to help people finance the cost of energy-efficiency measures within the home, was withdrawn in mid-2015. However, a lesser-known scheme called the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) remains in place and is designed to help millions of people get free or subsidised loft and wall insulation, as well as repaired or replacement boilers. The ECO remains available until March 31, 2017.
ECO is funded by energy companies like British Gas
Why can I get free improvements?
As the name of the scheme suggests, the ECO is funded by energy companies like British Gas, with the level of funding they provide determined by their market share. These companies are obliged by the government to meet certain targets designed to reduce carbon emissions, as well as to promote measures that help the most vulnerable and low-income households heat their homes.
In practice, this means if you rent or own your home, you may be eligible to get free improvements made to it. Some measures depend on your income or if you receive particular benefits, whilst others just depend on whether your home would be more energy-efficient if the improvements were made.
How do I go about getting them?
To ensure you receive all improvements you may be entitled to under the ECO, you should call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, which provides free and impartial advice based on your individual circumstances.
If you know what improvements you're entitled to, you can apply directly with any of the major energy providers, who can then arrange for a free on-site survey before carrying out the work.
What could I save?
This depends on the work you have done, but for example, if your house is eligible for loft and cavity wall insulation, getting them installed for free rather than paying for it yourself will save around £700.
Typical fuel bill savings from having appropriate loft and cavity wall insulation are in excess of £200 a year.
Are other types of energy savings available?
As well as taking advantage of available energy-efficiency improvements, you should also ensure that you are on a competitively-priced energy tariff. The government estimates that UK consumers could typically save a further £200 per year just by ensuring they are on good-value energy deals. However, around 70 per cent of people never switch tariff and therefore pay too much.
Thanks to David Sheridan, founder of the money-saving service Onedox - a free service to help manage and monitor your energy and other household bills.
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