Homeowners in England can apply for vouchers worth up to GBP10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient through the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme, which opened this week.
In most cases it will pay two-thirds of the cost of the energy efficient improvements, up to a maximum of GBP5,000 a household – but if you’re on a low income and on certain benefits you can claim the entire cost up to GBP10,000.
The government has said the work must completed by 31 March 2021, which may prove a testing timeframe.
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 smart heating controls. Smart 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 GBP6,000, you will only pay GBP2,000, with the government vouchers contributing the remaining two-thirds. Agree to install an GBP10,000 air-source heat pump and the government will contribute the first GBP5,000 – or the whole amount if you are on benefits including working tax credit, child tax credit, universal credit and disability living allowance.
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 will be sent a voucher to give to the tradesperson carrying out the work.
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.
What are the most attractive options?
While some people will want to spend their money on better insulating their home, replacing an old fossil-fuelled boiler with an air-source heat pump could be a good move.
This typically costs GBP10,000-GBP12,000. Households can use the GBP5,000 voucher in conjunction with the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive payments – combined with the potential savings on your energy bill this 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, 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 tradespeople.