Picture this – a brighter future for your home where energy bills are lighter, and the environment at large breathes a sigh of relief. This is the U.K. government’s goal for all homeowners with its implementation of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) launched in 2013. Since its inception, ECO has seen well over £775 million invested in various energy efficiency schemes across the U.K. and this figure is not bound to go any lower with the tougher calls to efficient energy sources and energy consumption.
In this article, we are going to look at the ECO4 scheme, the fourth initiative under the broader ECO scheme. This scheme intends to achieve its objectives of making changes to homes in the U.K. to leave them energy-efficient, eco-friendly and affordable.
Our main goal is to help you understand more about what the ECO4 scheme entails among other aspects such as the changes that the scheme brings to your home, and the eligibility criteria for the various schemes.
What is the ECO4 Scheme?
To better grasp what the ECO4 scheme is, we will first start with the Energy Consumption Obligation (ECO) at large. This is a government-backed energy efficiency scheme that has been designed to tackle fuel poverty and help reduce carbon emissions. To achieve this, the scheme is set to be delivered to households through the Green Levy which is normally handled by the energy companies in the country.
Since it was founded in 2013, ECO has seen four iterations with the latest one being the ECO4 scheme. Now, the ECO4 scheme is a program that has a primary goal of delivering energy efficiency and heating measures to millions of homes in the U.K. With funding to the tune of up to £4 billion, the scheme intends to spend about £1 million in each operation year. The funding for the ECO4 scheme comes from the ‘Big Six’ energy companies – E. ON, nPower, British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, and EDF, which are obligated to meet certain targets based on their market share.
In line with its objectives, the ECO4 scheme targets households on the lowest incomes. This involves households that are either in receipt of income-related benefits or those that have been identified by local authorities as being in or at risk of fuel poverty. However, the ECO4 scheme is not only restricted to low-income households as it also supports the least energy-efficient homes – those within the efficiency band D-G on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
The ECO4 scheme has a handful of measures that are covered under it. For instance, insulation, heating system upgrades, repairs and replacements, and innovation uplifts for new technologies as will be seen in the next segment. Read This full guide for free boiler grants for more information.
Available Home Improvements Under the ECO4 Scheme
Air source heat pumps
Under the ECO4 scheme, you can get an air source heat pump that harnesses the ambient heat from the air outside, even in chilly weather. So, these air source heat pumps pull in this heat, amplify it, and use it to warm your home and water. Not only are they energy-efficient, but they also require minimal upkeep, offering the dual benefit of reducing heating costs and your environmental footprint.
External wall insulation
If your home dates back to pre-1920 and has solid walls, external wall insulation through the ECO4 scheme will come in handy for you. This upgrade involves adding two layers of insulation to the outside of your house. The first layer keeps your home snug, while the second layer acts as a shield against the weather elements, giving your home a fresh, revamped look while still watching the temperatures in the house.
Combating heat loss is the mission of underfloor insulation. So, under the ECO4 scheme, a Q-Bot called Betty is used to spray an insulating material beneath your floorboards. This results in a warmer and more comfortable home with minimal disruption.
Cavity wall insulation
If you are looking for a swift and the most effective way to keep the warmth in, the ECO4 scheme has your back with cavity wall insulation. With this modification, you will have skilled installers drill small holes in your exterior walls and inject insulation material into the gaps, a task that takes a few hours to complete.
Loft insulation is a simple yet impactful solution by the ECO4 scheme that prevents heat loss through the roof. By insulating your roof space, you not only keep your home warm in winter but also maintain a cooler atmosphere during the warmer months. With this alternative, you get a year-round win for your comfort and energy bills without any fuss.
The smart thermostat device under the ECO4 scheme puts you in the driver’s seat to control the temperatures at your home. The upside of this is, you can control the temperatures even in your absence. The smart thermostat is a key upgrade that will optimize your heating and hot water systems, ultimately lowering your energy bills.
Eligibility Criteria for the ECO4 Scheme
To qualify for the ECO4 scheme and unlock potential funding for home improvements, your household needs to meet specific criteria. Below, we have given you well-detailed breakdowns of the prerequisites for the ECO4 scheme:
Homeowner or a private renter
To be eligible for the ECO4 scheme, you must either own your home or be a private renter. This requirement recognizes the significance of a direct stake in the housing situation, whether through ownership or tenancy. For the case of homeowners, the scheme acknowledges their ability to make decisions about their property’s energy efficiency, whereas, in private renting, this eligibility criterion ensures that this initiative extends to individuals residing in rental properties, fostering inclusivity and enabling a diverse range of people to benefit from improvements in their living spaces.
To qualify for the ECO4 scheme, your household income plays a crucial role in the sense that your total household income must be less than £31,000. This criterion is put in place to ensure that the scheme targets those with limited financial resources, enabling them to benefit from energy-efficient upgrades.
Energy performance certificate (EPC) rating
To qualify for the ECO4 scheme funding, your home should have an EPC rating of D1, E, F, or G. An EPC is a document that assesses and rates the energy efficiency of a house, providing valuable information about how the house consumes or loses energy. It assigns a grade to the building on a scale from A to G, where A represents the highest level of energy efficiency, and G indicates the lowest.
If someone in your home is already receiving means-tested benefits like Child Tax Credits, Child Benefits, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Pensions Savings Credit, Income Support or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefits, you could be eligible for the ECO4 scheme.
However, if the only benefit you receive is Child Benefit, specific income thresholds come into play, and these depend on your family structure. For single parents, the income thresholds are as follows: £19,000 for one child, £24,800 for two children, £29,600 for three children, and £34,500 for four or more children. Conversely, for parents in a couple, the income thresholds differ: £27,500 for one child, £32,300 for two children, £37,200 for three children, and £42,000 for four or more children.
These income limits serve as qualifying criteria under the ECO4 scheme and ensure that families reliant solely on Child Benefit can access funding for energy-efficient upgrades if their incomes fall below the specified amounts corresponding to their family size and structure.
How to Apply for the ECO4 Scheme in the U.K.
The ECO4 scheme operates through a straightforward process to ensure that homeowners or private renters can easily access energy-efficient upgrades for their homes. Below are the steps that the ECO4 scheme follows:
- Apply online – The first step is to check your eligibility online from our user-friendly grant finder. Once you see that you meet the set criteria, you will then proceed to schedule an appointment for a customized survey.
- Survey – Upon successful application, our team will survey your property. This detailed assessment is tailored to understand the specific improvements needed to qualify for funding and enhance the energy efficiency of your home.
- Install the solutions – Once you have reviewed the survey results and are ready to proceed, we will coordinate the installation process whereby our team will book a convenient time for the installation.
Recognized for their professionalism and expertise, the team under the Eco4 scheme will take charge of implementing the recommended solutions. From this point, you can rest assured that your home will undergo the necessary improvements to make it more energy-efficient and cost-effective.
Difference Between the ECO3 and ECO4 Schemes
The ECO4 scheme introduces notable changes to the eligibility criteria. For instance, benefits that were previously accepted under the ECO3 scheme, such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and Attendance Allowance, are no longer eligible for the ECO4 scheme. Conversely, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit Savings Credit, which were not qualifying factors in the ECO3 scheme, now make applicants eligible for ECO4.
Unlike the ECO3 scheme, the ECO4 scheme emphasizes a ‘fabric first’ strategy for enhancing home energy efficiency. In light of this, the ECO4 scheme evaluates a property’s existing energy efficiency band and focuses on upgrading it by multiple bands through the implementation of diverse insulation and heating measures.
The ECO4 scheme imposes a cap on the number of boiler grants available, limiting them to 5,000 across all suppliers. This marks a significant reduction from the approximately 134,000 boilers installed under the ECO3 scheme. Furthermore, the ECO4 scheme introduces stricter rules on qualifying boiler types, excluding LPG and oil boilers from eligibility under the scheme. Find more information Here about the free boiler scheme.
Criteria for allocation of grants
Under the ECO3 scheme, the allocation of grants was determined by assessing the long-term cost savings resulting from insulation and heating measures. In contrast, the ECO4 scheme has shifted its focus to enhancing the overall energy performance of a property. Instead of solely considering the monetary savings over time, ECO4 emphasizes improving the energy efficiency rating of homes.
Funding for privately rented tenants
While the eligibility criteria for private rented sector tenants remain largely consistent, the ECO4 scheme introduces a guideline specifying that energy efficiency projects can proceed only if the current energy efficiency band of the rented property is E, F, or G.
To sum it up, the ECO4 scheme brings a positive change to homes across the U.K., focusing on making them more energy-efficient. With fully funded solutions and accredited installers, it opens doors to free upgrades that not only save on energy bills but also contribute to a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.
Whether it’s improving insulation, upgrading heating systems, or embracing other energy-efficient measures, the ECO4 scheme offers a pathway to a more comfortable and eco-friendly living space. By taking advantage of this scheme, homeowners, landlords, and communities can play a part in creating a brighter, energy-efficient future while enjoying the immediate benefits of reduced costs and a smaller environmental footprint.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I combine ECO4 upgrades with other home improvement projects I have planned?
The ECO4 scheme upgrades are designed to be flexible and can be seamlessly integrated with other planned home improvement projects. Our accredited installers are experienced in coordinating efforts to ensure that various measures, both under ECO4 and other projects, are implemented efficiently. This allows for a comprehensive enhancement of your home, addressing multiple aspects simultaneously to create a more energy-efficient and comfortable living space.
What happens if my circumstances change after the ECO4 upgrades are installed?
The ECO4 scheme is adaptable to changing circumstances. If your situation evolves, we encourage you to reach out to us. Our team is here to discuss any necessary adjustments or additional measures that may be beneficial for maintaining your home’s ongoing energy efficiency. We are committed to ensuring that your home remains optimized for energy performance, even as your needs or circumstances change over time.
Is there a limit to the number of energy efficiency measures I can apply for under ECO4?
There is no set limit on the number of energy efficiency measures you can apply for under the ECO4 scheme. Our process involves a thorough survey that identifies the unique requirements of your home. Based on the survey results, we recommend a set of measures that would enhance your home’s energy efficiency. Whether it’s insulation, heating upgrades, or other improvements, you can proceed with the suggested measures to optimize your home’s energy performance.