Only £71m of the £1.5 billion promised to homeowners under the Government’s ‘Green Homes Grant’ has so far been handed out, with many people struggling to find installers to carry out their energy efficient improvements.
The scheme, which launched in September last year, is intended to provide 600,000 households with funding to make their homes more energy-efficient, but homeowners have reported being unable to locate anyone to carry out the work.
According to research by MoneySavingExpert.com, over 1,000 respondents to a Twitter poll said they’d had difficulties finding a supplier, suggesting around 80% of those who’ve attempted to find installers have been able to do so.
The scheme is extremely complex, and there are strict eligibility requirements for homeowners to meet, along with the challenge of a strict deadline. If you qualify for a voucher, it will only be valid for three months from the date it’s issued. The scheme was originally due to finish on 31 March this year, but this deadline has now been extended until March 2022. Here, we explain how the Green Homes Grant works, and what other financial support might be available if you don’t manage to get one.
What is the Green Homes Grant?
The Green Homes Grant is supposed to provide at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy-efficient, up to £5,000 per household. For example, if you were having cavity wall and floor insulation fitted at a cost of £4,000, you’d only have to pay £1,320 and the government would pay the remaining £2,680.
For those on the lowest incomes, the scheme can in theory fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household, so these homeowners won’t be required to contribute at all. To qualify for a grant up to £10,000, homeowners need to be receiving at least one of the following benefits.
- Income based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Income based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support (IS)
- Pension Guarantee Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
- Disability Living allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance allowance
- Carer’s allowance
- Severe Disablement allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Contribution-based Jobseekers allowance
- Contribution-based Employment & Support allowance
- Housing benefit
Why has it been introduced?
The aim of the grants is to help homeowners make their properties more energy efficient, so that they’ll use less energy and be warmer in winter and cooler in the summer. It is hoped that the scheme will allow over 600,000 homes across England to be upgraded.
As well as the benefits for homeowners and landlords, the scheme has been set up to support over 100,000 green jobs and help strengthen a supply chain that will be vital if the government is to meet its target of ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Net-zero means that wherever possible fossil fuels will no longer be used, and every tonne of CO2 emitted is matched by a tonne that is removed from the atmosphere.
Which home improvements do the grants cover?
TThe improvements covered by the grant have been split into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ measures, and you must install one of the primary measures if you want to get funding for any secondary measures.
The primary measures are:
- Insulation: including solid wall, cavity wall, under-floor, loft, flat roof, room in roof insulation
- Low carbon heat: including installing an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump, or solar thermal systems (where your home has, or is going to have, wall and loft insulation installed).
The secondary measures are:
- Draught proofing
- Windows and doors: Double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazing), secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing), upgrading to energy efficient doors (where replacing doors installed prior to 2002).
- Heating controls and insulation: appliance thermostats, hot water tank thermostats, hot water tank insulation, smart heating controls, zone controls, delayed start thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves.
The secondary measures listed above can only be subsidised up to the amount that you received for primary measures. For example, if you received £2,000 towards the cost of under-floor insulation, you can only claim a maximum of £2,000 to put towards any secondary measures, such as installing double glazed windows.
Find out more here.
Can I claim the grant anywhere in the UK?
No, unfortunately it’s only available to homeowners living in England, so if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you won’t be able to apply. However, there may be other financial support you’re eligible for to help you make your home more energy efficient. Find out more about the grants and loans that might be available to you here.
How do I claim the grant?
You can find out if you’re eligible for the Green Homes Grant via the Simple Energy Advice Website website. Bear in mind that even if the site tells you you could be eligible for a grant, this isn’t confirmation that you’ll definitely qualify.
Accredited suppliers who are able to do the work for you are listed on the site here and you’ll need to obtain a quote from two or three of these for the work you need doing. Quotes must be from approved TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme-registered installers. Once you’ve got your quotes and chosen one, you can apply for the Green Homes Grant here. Your application must be approved before a voucher can be issued and the work must be completed before 31 March 2022.
Is there any other help available if I'm not eligible for the Green Homes Grant?
Yes, there are several other schemes which may be able to help with the cost of making your home more energy-efficient.
For example, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme aims to ensure vulnerable households in England, Scotland and Wales get efficient boilers and insulation into their homes. To be eligible for help, you’ll usually have to be claiming certain benefits and meet other requirements, such as being on a low income. You can find out more about ECO and whether you’re likely to qualify here. If you think you are eligible, get in touch with your energy supplier – they may agree to install the improvements for free or request that you pay a proportion of the cost.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you might be able to get financial assistance with installing energy-saving measures from the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP). This provides offers and incentives for those people who fall outside of other government funded schemes. The Utility Regulator has a list of current schemes.
If you live in Scotland, Home Energy Scotland can offer impartial, expert advice on which grants and loans might be available to you. Homeowners in Wales may be eligible for help from the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme which aims to make Welsh homes warmer. Find out more about the Nest scheme here.
You can learn more about the different types of financial support for energy-saving improvements you might be eligible for on the Energy Saving Trust website here.
What are the benefits of making my home more energy efficient?
Making your property more energy efficient not only makes it warmer in winter months, but it will reduce your impact on the environment and can also have significant financial benefits.
According to the Chancellor, the scheme could help save people £300 a year on their energy bills. You don’t have to wait until the scheme is introduced to start exploring ways to make your property more energy efficient. For example, quick tips such as using low energy light bulbs, turning electrical devices off (rather than on standby) and using less water in the kettle each time can all add up to big savings. You can find out other ways to be more energy efficient in our article Save money on your energy bills.
How else can I save money on my energy bills?
Making sure you’re on the most competitive energy tariff possible can also help you reduce your energy bills.
The best tariff for you will depend on where you live and on how much energy you use. The three big decisions you will need to consider are price, customer service and your impact on the environment. You can use our energy switching service to compare providers and see how much you could save, as well as seeing the customer service ratings for the suppliers listed. Over half of Rest Less users (51%) who have switched using the tool have cut energy costs by an average of £167 a year, and one in 10 have saved £340 a year.
You can also search for ‘green’ only tariffs, if you are happy to pay a bit more but want to minimise your environmental footprint. There are two types of green tariff, those with 100% renewable electricity and those with both 100% renewal electricity and 100% carbon offset gas which typically cost a little more.
Have you managed to successfully apply for the Green Homes Grant or any other type of help to make your home more energy-efficient? If so, we’d be interested in hearing from you. You can join the conversation on the Rest Less Community forum or leave a comment below.