Your Guide to the Government Boiler Scheme – Grants for Boilers

Is your old boiler on its last legs?

It’s not only a worry that it could stop working, it could be costing you a substantial amount of money in heating your home. Of our annual energy bills, 60% is spent on heating.

The Energy Saving Trust says a new, energy-efficient boiler could save you up to £350 on your heating bills every year, depending on the size of your home and your existing boiler type. Find out how much you could save here.

There is also a compelling health reason to replace your old boiler – the potential threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent and deadly killer. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches and dizziness, but there have been cases where deaths have occurred without any symptoms.

As appliances age, the risk of CO leakage increases.

It’s vital that boilers are checked and serviced annually, and that you have a working CO detector to minimise the risks. Find out what warning signs to look out for here.

Of course, older appliances can also be a greater risk of a gas leak – with all the potential hazards that creates.

The average cost of boiler replacement with a new gas boiler and new thermostatic radiator values is around £2,300.

However, a government scheme, ECO, allows some people to claim a free or subsidised boiler replacement.

The EU has set the UK tough targets for reducing the carbon footprint of our housing stock. Our energy bills contribute to ECO (the Energy Company Obligation), the so-called Green Tax.

The government now obliges the big six energy companies to fund the boiler replacement and installation scheme which provides grants for those on benefits and low incomes. The amount they contribute is based on their share of the energy market.

The ECO obligations include promoting measures to improve the ability of low-income householders to heat their homes, and low-cost insulation for areas where there are low incomes.

The ECO scheme began in 2013 and was initially expected to run until 2015. It has been extended to 31st March 2017, but the pot of money is limited. If you qualify for a free or low-cost boiler, it’s important to act fast as, when the money runs out, the grants will no longer be available.

A new rule is that condensing boilers which are broken beyond repair can also now be replaced.

Statistics from energy watchdog Ofgem show that more than 93,000 free or low-cost replacement boilers have been installed under the scheme in the past few years.

Who qualifies for ECO?

The ECO scheme was set up to benefit low-income households – making improvements to their heating systems to reduce the cost of their bills and their carbon footprint.

To qualify you must own your own home or rent it privately and have the owner’s permission to make the improvements. Your boiler must also be more than five years old.

You must also get one of these benefits:

  • Pension credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Child tax credit with an income of £16,010 or less
  • Working tax credit with an income of £16,010 or less
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit, provided you earned £1,250 or less in any assessment period in the past year

There are also extra conditions for some benefits like getting the pensioner premium, disabled child premium, and getting disability living allowance or personal independence payments. For the full detail, go to the government’s website.

The Energy Saving Advice Service will find out if you’re eligible and tell you how to apply. They can be contacted on 0300 123 1234.

How much funding will I get?

That depends on the energy efficiency of your home. An energy assessment will be carried out for free.

Some recipients will find the full cost of replacement covered, while others may have to make a small contribution.

So the message is simple – you could get a free or low-cost boiler replacement, but you have to act quickly before the funds set aside for the scheme run out.

If you want to learn more, watchdog Ofgem has information on the scheme for householders, energy suppliers and and installers here.

You can read Ofgem’s latest newsletter on the ECO scheme here.

If you have an old boiler and meet the requirements for assistance, it’s worth applying to have your old boiler replaced.