Replace that Inefficient Boiler

A new government-backed scheme is helping thousands of low-income families to replace their old, inefficient boilers with new models that consume less power. Known as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), this scheme requires the big six energy companies – British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power, SSE, E.ON and NPower – to provide grants to low-income consumers to help them heat their homes more efficiently.

Am I Eligible for a Free Boiler?

Part of the ECO scheme is the Affordable Warmth Obligation, which allows people in receipt of certain benefits to get help with the cost of upgrading their boiler. Owner-occupiers and private tenants are both welcome to apply for a grant, but social tenants are currently exempt.

Benefits that qualify people for help under the ECO include the following:
* Child tax credit
* Pension credit
* Income-based ESA or JSA (if you also have a child under 20 who is in full-time education)
* Disability premium
* Working tax credit (if you are over 60, have a disability, or have a child under 20 in full-time education)

What Kind of Boiler Can I Get?

The scheme applies to boilers that have an energy efficiency rating of G or worse, allowing them to be replaced with one with an A rating. Boilers that are more than ten years old are usually rated G or below, so they will qualify for the scheme.

Glow worm is a leading manufacturer of highly efficient boilers. Boilers produced by this company, which is the UK branch of leading global supplier Vaillant Group, have a strong reputation for being easy to install and use. Both combination and heat-only boilers are available, so you can replace your existing model with something that meets your needs.

How Much Will I Save?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing an old G-rated boiler in a house with three bedrooms with a new A-rated model will reduce energy bills by more than £300. The environment will also benefit, as an A-rated boiler produces approximately 1,200 kg less carbon dioxide per year than one with a G rating.

As new boilers are generally more reliable than those that have been working for decades, you are also likely save money on call-out and repair costs.

How Do I Apply?

Many installers throughout the UK are able to install boilers using ECO funding. You can begin by approaching one of these companies, or apply online through a service that puts customers in contact with approved installers. For impartial advice, you can also call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.

What if I Don’t Qualify for an ECO grant?

Even if your household income is too high for you to get a free boiler under the Energy Company Obligation, you do not have to give up on improving the efficiency of your heating system. The Green Deal is a scheme that is open to all households, regardless of income. Funding from this scheme can be used to upgrade yours.

The Green Deal initiative provides funding for a range of energy efficient home improvements, including boiler replacement. First, you must have a Green Deal assessment of your home, where an assessor comes to your home to see what improvements could reduce your energy usage. You can then use Green Deal funding to make the improvements that were recommended by the assessor. In households where the boiler is very old, replacing the boiler is often one of the recommended actions.

The advantage of the Green Deal is that it is open to everyone, but unlike ECO it does not provide free boilers – you have to repay any money received through your energy bills. However, the Green Deal assessment ensures that the savings achieved through your new energy efficient improvements are always greater than the amount you repay. You will therefore be better off overall.

How Many People Have Been Helped?

The Green Deal and ECO schemes have been running since early 2013. During the first quarter, more than 80,000 people took advantage of the Affordable Warmth portion of ECO, and more than 38,000 Green Deal assessments were carried out.

If your boiler is very old, consider using one of these two government-backed sources of funding to replace it with a new Glow Worm model. The savings you make will soon add up.

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