What Boiler grants are available?
Before we talk about what boiler grants are available in the ECO energy suppliers scheme it might be worth understanding what types of boilers exist, after all if you are after a free boiler you might as well get the best new boiler for your individual circumstances.
Types of Boilers
There are heat only boilers, which are sometimes called traditional or conventional boiler, because they only provide heat and do not produce any hot water for use in the home, they are generally limited to providing the heat source for your internal central heating system or radiators.
Combination boilers are some of the most popular used in the United Kingdom, the newer variations of this boiler type is often an energy efficient boiler which provides both central heating and hot water for usage in the house, without the hot water storage tank. A great space saving innovation you often find this type of boiler used in smaller homes where space is limited and the likelihood of multiple occupants having hot showers simultaneously is zero.
System boilers are used for larger homes and are directly connected to the mains water supply which is used to store the water used for heating. This type of boiler can support multiple bathrooms and simultaneous usage of hot water in different rooms.
The fuel source for boilers are also varied, and include:
Gas boilers use natural gas and achieve up to 90% efficiency, they require connections to the central gas network and it is crucial that any works on a gas boiler, whether installation, repair or replacement boiler are done by a certified professional.
Electrical power is used to create the heat in this type, which is often smaller than regular ones, making them a more space-efficient choice for smaller properties.
Biomass boilers are powered by burning biological matter, which has had the water content reduced to almost nothing, and can include wood pellets, chips or logs. Usually these materials are fed automatically, making this the boiler of choice for remote locations that are off-the-grid in terms of both electricity and gas.
Wood Stove Boilers
Wood burning stove boilers are another popular choice for off the grid properties, these look like regular fire-places but transfer some of the heat from the fire to a central heating system that can be used to heat a home or provide hot water. Unlike most of the other types of boilers, these require no electricity at all
How do Free Boiler Grants fit into the Energy Company Obligation ECO Scheme?
All of us have noticed the increasing prices of day-to-day living. Many debate the causes of this rampant inflation but the fact is it is affecting the whole economy. When increases in income do not keep up with inflation it makes things more difficult to afford, and nowhere is this more true than energy costs. Whilst companies like Centrica make record, billion pound profits, the rest of us have to live in the reality shaped by these forces.
The energy company obligation or ECO scheme was devised to create a way for energy suppliers or energy companies to finance increased efficiency for lower income households who are at risk of fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is generally defined as a situation where the cost of fuel to heat the home (ie. the cost to run your boiler) would push the household under the poverty line when subtracted from residual income. By increasing the energy efficiency of the home, energy bills should come down and this money can be reallocated to other vital living costs.
Generally, the ECO scheme is open to those who are in receipt of benefits, up to date details of these benefits can be found on OFGEM's website. It is important to only source your information on these schemes from official government websites or the websites of regulators in order to ensure you are getting it straight from the horse's mouth.
When it comes to your individual situation there are some things you should consider about the ECO scheme. The UK Government has a website that might help you understand your individual situation when it comes to all the different government schemes and grants available for energy efficiency, so you might want to try the Energy Grants calculator.
Firstly, the scheme's eligibility is based primarily on the occupant of the property not the owner, sometimes these are different, particularly if you are living in social housing or renting from a private landlord.
The second thing to consider is your home's EPC rating, the good news is that the EPC ratings register is open to the public and available from the UK Government website, you can find the direct link by clicking here. Generally, ECO scheme eligibility, including for a free boiler grant, is open only to properties which are EPC rated D or lower. If your home does not have an EPC rating it might be worth getting one, it only costs from around £30 to £60 depending on where you live.
Another way to improve your energy efficiency is to ensure that any air conditioning installed in your home is maintained properly, using a reputable air conditioning maintenance company.
Efficient Boilers Might Not Qualify for a Free Replacement
So, if you are eligible and in receipt of one of the government benefits such as disability living allowance, income support, working tax credits, support allowance, child tax credits, universal credit or any of the other benefits which allow you to qualify for the ECO scheme, you need to understand the efficiency rating of your current boiler. Whether you qualify for a boiler or not will generally be determined by how many years old it is, the energy source it uses for heating and the method of installation. Basically, the more inefficient boiler you have the more likely you are to qualify for a free boiler scheme. The new boiler will most likely be an energy efficient boiler.
If you only have electric heaters, sometimes called panel heaters, such as the one pictured, then it is very likely that you can benefit from the ECO scheme for a new heating system. In areas where there is no gas, the new heating system installed will provide affordable warmth and reduce energy bills massively. This is because when it comes to electric heating for low income households, especially if on the economy 7 or economy 10 tariff, because the new electric storage heaters charge with electricity at night when the cost is off-peak, and use this stored energy to heat your home during the day.