Boilers can be expensive pieces of kit, and their true cost often becomes surprisingly apparent when you’re dealing with a broken machine and struggling with no heating or hot water. In many scenarios, it’s often cheaper to replace the entire unit than to pay for repairs, but this can still be very costly. If you’re in no position to buy a new boiler, then the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme might be able to help.
Government Funded Boilers
Though the government won’t give you grant money directly for a free boiler, they do run the ECO initiative. This was developed to give people with lower incomes the chance to replace old boilers with modern machines. As these units are more efficient, utility costs are lower, allowing those struggling with their household bills to heat their home without worry.
Free boiler grants were first launched in January 2013 with the aim of reducing Britain’s overall energy consumption. ECO was developed to include three obligations; Affordable Warmth, Carbon Saving Obligation and the Carbon Saving and Community Obligation. As part of the Affordable Warmth group, the government pays several of the UK’s largest energy companies a total of around £1.3bn with which they can then help families on low incomes.
Here are some links to find information from the individual energy companies:
Government Boiler Grants Eligibility
Also called the Home Heat Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO), the Affordable Warmth Obligation ensures that energy companies provide free boilers and insulation grants to households across the UK. Though many forms of insulation, including loft and cavity wall insulation, are often free to anyone, due to the costly nature of installing a new boiler, applicants normally have to be receiving a means-tested benefit. As such, not only do you need to be a permanent resident of your home, but also be receiving one of the following:
- Employment and support allowance
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
- Pension credit
- Universal credit
- Jobseekers allowance
You will also have to show evidence that your total household income from all working-age residents is not more than £16,010. This figure was determined by the government to be the threshold at which, if you earn more, money would be better spent on other low income families.
Property and Boiler Criteria
It is not just your financial circumstances that are taken into account when energy firms are weighing up your application. As the project aims to reduce overall energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions, properties need to be large enough so that significant savings can be made. This means that, unfortunately, flats are not included in the funding.
In addition, your home’s current boiler will also affect whether you’re able to qualify for a free grant. To be eligible, boilers need to have an efficiency rating of between 65 and 80per cent. Compared to today’s standard of 90per cent efficiency, this is rather low. In general, boilers need to be at least 10 years old because replacing these will offer sufficient savings to warrant the initial expense.
Finding a Boiler Grant
Though once numerous, boiler grants have become harder to find because of government cuts. In autumn 2013, it was announced that the scheme would be cut because energy companies had agreed to roll out £50 reductions to their customers. It doesn’t mean that funding is no longer available, but it has made it harder to find a free boiler. And, for even those firms with money left available, companies may not cover the entire cost of the upgrade.
Replacing an Old Boiler Saves Money
In general, if you can afford to replace your old boiler, you should do so. As technology has advanced, the efficiencies of these machines have increased too, meaning you’ll not only have a unit that heats your home better, but does so for less money. In fact, boilers over 10 years old could be pushing your bills up by an average of £305 every year. Many traditional boilers require a vast amount of energy to attain heats of 180 degrees. Modern condensing boilers, however, release gas at just 55 degree Celsius, meaning they use less power.
So, if your family has a low household income and you receive benefits, it’s well worthwhile contacting your energy company to see if funding is available. If it is, then you should take advantage of the scheme to get a new boiler and look forward to the perks it brings.