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Everyone loves a freebie, whether it’s something small like a free pack of biscuits when you buy two or something a bit larger like a free boiler. But is it possible to get free insulation for your home?
Having good insulation in your home is essential. Without it, a significant amount of heat can be lost through the walls, floors and roof meaning you could be wasting energy and therefore paying more than you should be for gas or electricity. However, with sufficient loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and even floor insulation, you could see an increase in the efficiency of your home and a reduction in your monthly bills.
So with all of this in mind, what grants are available to discount the cost of insulation or even make it cost nothing at all?
In the UK, we’re lucky that there are a number of government grants available that can help us out with the cost of our utilities. For instance, the Renewable Heat Incentive rewards people who make use of renewable technology to heat their home, such as a heat pump system, and you can receive money each year for the hot water and heat that you generate.
Similarly, there are a couple of grants available that could cover the cost of your insulation altogether or discount it so you don’t have to pay as much.
The first is the ECO scheme. This is something that the government has put in place to check that energy companies are doing all they can to make sure people’s homes are efficient and that they’re not wasting too much energy. Under the ECO scheme, large energy providers should offer grants to improve the energy efficiency of households that are low performing or to families who are on a low income. With the scheme, you could receive free cavity wall insulation, free loft insulation or a brand new boiler at a subsidised rate. For a full list of providers who take part in the ECO scheme, see here.
The Green Homes Grant scheme commenced in September 2020 and allows homeowners on benefits to get up to £10,000 in vouchers for all kinds of home improvements, such as insulation, double glazing and more. The grant will cover the cost completely so you don’t need to pay a thing.
Even if you’re not on benefits, you could receive up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the cost of the work. So if, for example, new insulation cost £1,000, you could receive £666 back from the government. While this doesn’t mean the insulation is free, you could still save a lot of money.
To qualify for the schemes above, you must meet certain criteria.
It can be a difficult process to find out if you qualify for the ECO scheme. This is because eligibility depends on all sorts of factors, including where you live, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of your home, the amount of emissions that could be saved by completing the work and whether you receive any benefits. EDF Energy, for example, states that in order to get free loft insulation, the loft must be accessible, existing insulation must be less than 100mm thick and there should be no infestations or water damage. You should also own or rent your home and it must have an EPC rating of A to E. Other providers may have completely different criteria, so it’s worth doing your research to determine what each supplier can offer you.
Generally, E.ON states that the ECO scheme is available to any E.ON customer, however you need to apply for cavity wall insulation first and then request loft insulation afterwards. If you receive any kind of benefits, there is a way to fast track straight to loft insulation without needing cavity wall insulation. These rules also apply for Npower.
Through both EDF and SSE, you must be on certain benefits to apply, including Universal Credit, Tax Credits, or Attendance Allowance.
To find out if you’re eligible, simply go directly to your energy provider and ask them. They will be able to run through the criteria and advise you on next steps if you do qualify.
As with the ECO scheme, the Green Homes Grant also has certain restrictions that you must look into before applying. Both homeowners and landlords can apply for the scheme, and any homes with a leasehold will need permission from freeholders before going ahead with the changes. New builds that haven’t been inhabited yet aren’t eligible, and neither are commercial premises.
Even if you qualify for either of the schemes we’ve mentioned, there may still be some restrictions to be aware of. If you have already received a grant, you may not be able to apply for another. For instance, you cannot claim both a Green Homes Grant voucher and get an item for free on the ECO scheme. However, you can if both of these are for different things. For example, you may be getting subsidised loft insulation through the Green Homes scheme and cavity wall insulation through ECO - this is fine.
You can claim providing your installer has access to the schemes, both RHI and the Green Homes Grant for the installation of a renewable heating system. Please note that claims are made through the installer not the homeowner.
When it comes to the ECO scheme, you should also be aware that some improvements are only available to you if you pick certain others. Improvements are split into two categories: primary and secondary. You will need to pick at least one primary improvement in order to qualify for a secondary one.
Primary improvements include insulation (cavity wall, loft, underfloor, solid wall) and low-carbon heating (air source and ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers). Secondary improvements include draught-proofing, double glazing and energy efficient doors.
Luckily, insulation is included in the primary category, so if this is the only thing you want, you’ll be able to get it without needing to choose any other items.
Both grants mentioned in this article (ECO and Green Homes Grant) include cavity wall insulation. You will either get this product installed for free or the cost will be partially covered by you and partially by the government.