Consumers can get vouchers to install insulation, double glazing, smart controls and more
The Green Homes Grant can be used to install insulation in lofts, roofs, walls and elsewhere. Photograph: Andrew Aitchison/Alamy
Homeowners in England can now apply for vouchers worth between £5,000 and £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient under the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme.
From Wednesday, homeowners can apply for a government grant to fund energy efficient improvements.
In most cases it will pay two-thirds of the cost, up to a maximum of £5,000 a household – but if you’re on a low income and on certain benefits you can claim the entire cost up to £10,000.
The scheme, first announced in the summer, is primarily aimed at those living in hard to heat or hard to keep warm homes, but it’s open to others too. It is complicated to navigate, and one of the key components is that consumers must get a quote from an accredited installer before they can apply.
The government has said the work must completed by 31 March 2021, which may prove a testing timeframe. Consumers are reporting problems in getting quotes as there is a shortage of approved workers able to carry out the work, particularly in some rural areas.
To get the free money you have to commit to installing what the scheme calls a “primary” measure. This could be solid wall, cavity wall, underfloor, loft or roof insulation, or low-carbon heating, such as air-source or ground-source heat pumps, a biomass boiler or a solar thermal system. Experts predict more applications for heat-based measures, but it is early days.
Once that work is done you can also apply for vouchers to cover a number of “secondary” measures. These include double or triple glazing, energy efficient doors or to smart heating controls. mart controls look likely to be the most popular secondary measure, which also includes the installation of thermostatic radiator valves.
How does it work?
If you home needs cavity wall and floor insulation costing £6,000, you will would only pay £2,000, with the government vouchers contributing the remaining two-thirds. Agree to install an £10,000 air source heat pump and the government will contribute the first £5,000 – or the whole amount if you are on certain benefits.
Before you apply for funding, you are advised to check your eligibility using Simple Energy Advice checker which will show which measures your home is ready for. It will also show you accredited (MSC-approved) tradespeople in your area. Be aware that some measures, such as external wall insulation, may need planning permission before you can go ahead.
To apply you must have received at least one quote from a Green Homes Grant registered installer. If the price seems unreasonably high, the scheme administrator may request that you provide another quote.
If your application is successful, you’ll be sent a voucher to give to the tradesperson carrying out the work.
The grant can also be used for cavity wall insulation. Photograph: Andrew Aitchison/Alamy
Who can apply?
You can get the vouchers, you must own a home in England. Eligible properties include park homes, those on long-leaseholds and shared ownership. Landlords can also apply.
Check here if you’re eligible for the low income support scheme which pays up to £10,000. Qualifying benefits include working tax credit, child tax credit, universal credit and disability living allowance, plus others.
What are the most attractive options?
While some people will want to spend their money on better insulating their home, the replacement of old fossil-fuel boilers with an air source heat pump, looks set to grab most people, according to Matt Clemow, who runs Igloo Energy – an energy supplier and air source heat pump installer.
“An air source heat pump is a much more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to an older boiler. Using a small amount of electricity and the outside air, a heat pump can heat your home and your water using less energy than your oil or gas boiler – saving you money and helping you save the planet by using less energy.”
While it typically costs the average UK home £10,000-£12,000 to replace a standard gas boiler with an air source heat pump, households can use the £5,000 voucher above, in conjunction with the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive payments, which combined with the potential savings on your energy bill could cover the full cost of the new system.
Beware the fraudsters
While the scheme has built-in protections, to ensure that work can only be done by approved tradespeople who have registered with TrustMark, the problem is that when the government launches such high profile schemes, cowboys and scammers will try to cash in.
Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says scammers are sending emails about the scheme, and using a bogus weblinks to steal personal data. Homeowners have also reported being cold-called and sent texts from people claiming to be offering insulation as part of the scheme. Be on your guard, and only use reputable work people that you have checked out thoroughly, she warns.