Are there really brand new boilers available free of charge?
Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 27 September 2013 at 9:22 am
Q: I have had a phone call from someone offering me a brand new boiler, absolutely free. Is this a scam?
A: The phone rings and someone on the end of the line offers you a brand new boiler - absolutely free.
Naturally you are sceptical. After months of unsolicited calls offering you recompense for mis-sold PPI insurance you didn’t own in the first place, why wouldn’t you be?
But before you gently replace the receiver and go about your day, know this: there are grants for free boilers and free insulation up for grabs, as long as you fulfil certain criteria.
Under the scheme, you could qualify for free boilers, free loft insulation and free cavity wall insulation particularly if you are on low income or in receipt of benefits. There is also funding available for solid wall insulation in some cases.The grants are available under the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO), a government scheme designed to help the UK meet its carbon emission reduction targets by 2050.
The scheme, worth £1.3bn a year, runs until March 2015 and is available to any qualifying households where inhabitants are either in receipt of child tax credit; have a total household income of £15,860 or less; are in receipt of pension credit or income support; include children or disabled people or are over 60.
ECO is being delivered by the big six energy companies - EDF, E.on., British Gas, Npower, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern (SSE) – who have each been given a quota of installations they must make to meet their obligations.
If the energy companies miss their targets they’ll receive big fines – hence they are using cold calling techniques to try and reach you. Even if you are not a customer of the big six, you still qualify – you do not need to be a customer in order to make use of the offer.
To qualify, you usually need to have a broken or inefficient gas boiler, or uninsulated cavity walls or loft space. Help is also available to those in particularly rural areas and those with properties that are hard to treat, for example hard to reach cavities or uninsulated solid walls. The energy companies are to some extent free to decide how they interpret the conditions and how much subsidy they supply for different measures, so different companies may offer different measures under different criteria. Some installations may incur additional costs, such as scaffolding.
There are a number of ways of checking your eligibility for funding, the least sensible of which is, perhaps, simply going with the first cold caller who gets you on the phone. Calling around the big six is one approach but the most effective is probably to start with an independent green deal assessment and shop around for providers from there.
This is because ECO is part of the green deal and, providing your property is not either very old or of an unusual design, a green deal assessment is likely to give you the best overview of what energy saving measures are appropriate for your property. Your assessment should tell you which of the recommended measures are available through ECO and which will require financing – either from your own pocket or through some kind of green deal finance. You are free to choose which measures to go with from that report, but having a good overview is a great place to start.
If you're sure of what your property needs, you may decide to go direct to a single energy provider. In this case, you will still need to have a green deal assessment, or something similar (details are still being ironed out) and your provider will be able to organise this on your behalf. However since some energy providers will be prioritising insulation, and others will be more interested in boiler replacements you may be concerned that their recommendations are informed more by commercial considerations, than what’s best for your property.
Before you decide read this blog about choosing a green deal adviser, for more detail on going down the independent route.
Find an installer
From the blog
How to choose a green deal adivsor (Aug 2013)
Is the green deal right for me? (Feb 2013)
Green deal: is it a good deal? (Jan 2013)
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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