Under the ECO (Energy Companies Obligation) scheme in the UK, low-income households may be entitled to upgrade to a more energy-efficient boiler for their home, either with a discount or completely free of charge depending on individual circumstances. With the average cost of boiler replacement at around £2,500, it’s definitely worth looking into all your options and exploring the possibility of getting a free boiler grant if your current boiler is getting old or on the blink. Along with help towards some or all of the cost of a new boiler, some households may also be eligible for other benefits that are designed to reduce heating and energy bills including loft insulation, solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, and heating controls. Read on to find out more about what’s needed to qualify for a free boiler grant and the steps that you need to take if you are eligible.
Top Things to Know About Getting a Free Boiler
If you’re not sure whether or not you are going to qualify for a free boiler under the ECO scheme, here are some things to be aware of that might help you better understand your options:
- You need to live in a certain type of property and be in receipt of certain benefits to be eligible for a free boiler grant.
- Not everybody who is eligible for a free boiler grant may actually get a free boiler. This is because each energy company has a limited number of free boilers to provide.
- Not all energy companies are participating in the scheme; however, the big companies such as Octopus Energy, EDF Energy, British Gas and Scottish Power are alongside others.
- If you are eligible for a free boiler grant, you do not have to go through the energy company that you are currently with – any of the participating companies can help.
- You may need to pay for the cost of installation if you are eligible for a free boiler.
Who is Eligible for a Free Boiler?
You can find out more about free boilers and who may be eligible for free boilers or help towards the cost of getting a boiler replacement at Next Energy. Next Energy works directly with utility companies to assist with meeting ECO obligations and provides help to eligible applicants when it comes to getting new boilers installed in their homes at little to no cost. You can use their online checker tool to instantly find out if you are eligible for a free boiler or money towards the cost of installing a new boiler in your home.
According to Ofgem, your living situation and if you receive any government benefits are the two main factors that affect your eligibility for a boiler grant. You must own your own home or live in council housing with an EPC rating of E, F, or G. If you are privately renting, then you must live in a property with an EPC rating of A-F or G, and you will need to get permission to make the improvements from the landlord.
Regardless of the property that you live in, you will only qualify for the grant if your property has a gas supply, and your current boiler is more than five years old. You should also receive Pension Credits, Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-related JSA, Income-related ESA, Working Tax Credits, or Child Tax Credits. Anybody receiving child tax credits or pension credits in homes where the annual income is lower than £16,010 and other property criteria are met will be eligible for a grant under the ECO.
If you receive benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, you will need to meet further requirements to be eligible for the grant. You may also be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of the boiler or the installation depending on your circumstances, even if you are eligible for a grant.
The condition of your current boiler will also impact the type of grant that you may be eligible for. For example, you may receive a new boiler free of charge if you meet the eligibility criteria and your current boiler is both faulty and more than five years old. However, if your boiler is not five years old or more, you may receive a repair grant rather than a replacement grant.
If you are living in social or council housing, you can qualify for both replacement boiler grants and insulation grants. If you are currently living in a council home or a housing association property, you do not need to be in receipt of any state benefits to be eligible for the grant. However, to be eligible for an insulation grant, your home needs to have an EPC rating of E, F, or G. You can check your home’s energy performance certificate to find out if you are eligible. You may be eligible for a free boiler grant if the property has not had a central heating system before. Free boiler grants are only available for properties that are entirely owned by the housing association and will not be available for shared ownership properties.
If you receive Pension Credit and are aged sixty or above, you may be eligible for a replacement boiler grant. A standard state pension does not automatically qualify you for a free boiler grant. However, if you are aged sixty and over and claim working tax credits, you may be eligible for the boiler grant scheme.
Will I Definitely Get a Free Boiler?
Unfortunately, simply being eligible for the scheme does not always guarantee that you are going to get a free boiler due to funding restrictions. Each energy company decides how much funding they are able to provide towards free boilers and insulations. Whether or not you get a free boiler may also depend on the company that you choose, as some companies offer free boilers while others offer other energy-saving solutions like insulation for your loft or cavity wall. Some providers offer boilers free of charge, while others only offer money towards the cost of your new boiler, leaving you to make up the difference. There are only certain energy companies that participate in the scheme, and a heating engineer needs to conduct a survey of your home to double-check that you are eligible, even if your energy provider believes that you are. The heating engineer also needs to determine whether or not your property is able to accommodate a new boiler. If you are unable to get a new or replacement boiler free of charge, it is still worth finding out if you can get a discount on a new boiler or grants towards other energy-saving improvements in your home.
Which Energy Companies Can Help?
If you think that you are eligible for help with a new boiler or other energy-saving improvements for your home, then you can go to the Ofgem website to see a list of companies that are currently participating in ECO. Bear in mind that you do not have to go through your current energy supplier and are free to request support from any energy supplier that is on the list of participating companies, regardless of whether you are or have been a customer.
If you need a new boiler, it’s always worth checking if you are eligible for support under the ECO scheme.