What help can I get with heating under the Affordable Warmth scheme?
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2013 at 9:21 am
Q: I have a typical 60s semi. Unfortunately I don't have a central heating system (warm air broken down). I am now retired and on pension credit. I have tried to get something done via the Affordable Warmth scheme but all they seem interested in is replacing boilers which I don't have!
I have been looking at air pumps and was wondering if I can get any help to finance installation? I currently have a gas fire in the living room, immersion heater and various electric panel heaters to keep warm. The house itself is all double glazed and has cavity wall insulation. I seem to be falling through a hole when it comes to the Green Deal!
A: There is a wide range of measures that are (theoretically) available under the new affordable warmth scheme - which is now called the slightly less user friendly home heating cost reduction obligation, or HHCRO. It is not part of the green deal, but its partner scheme the Energy Company Obligation or ECO. You can see the range of eligible measures if you click here.
As you will see in the right hand shaded green, electric storage heaters, warm air units and air source heat pumps are all eligible measures. So I contacted the department of energy and climate change to find out why you are not able to access them. This is what the spokeswoman said:
"It is a commercial decision for the obligated energy companies as to how much funding they provide to each consumer and which measures they offer. This may depend on consumers’ individual circumstances. The ECO Affordable Warmth obligation provides support for heating and insulation measures for low income, vulnerable consumers. The legislation and Ofgem guidance allows the energy suppliers to support the installation of a wide range of such measures which enable the householder to heat their home more affordably.
"Suppliers can choose which of the eligible Affordable Warmth measures they want to deliver, including boiler replacement or boiler repairs, in order to meet their target. It is our expectation that they will try to do this in the most cost effective way to minimise the overall cost of the scheme. The supplier offers that are on the market at present are largely focused on gas boiler repairs and replacements and loft and cavity wall insulation.
"Consumers can approach any obligated supplier (i.e. the traditional ‘big 6’ plus First Utility), but we also recommend they contact Energy Saving Advice Service for further impartial advice."
This is rather a depressing response. My interpretation of it is that the obligation doesn't actually oblige the energy companies to provide the whole range of measures that people need. As off gas homes tend to be more expensive to heat, this is very disappointing. I suggest you give the Energy Saving Advice Service a ring on 0300 123 1234 as they may know if any of the energy companies is offering (or planning to offer) a wider range of measures.
However, outside the green deal and ECO, there is some funding available for air source heat pumps at the moment. The renewable heat premium payment, which is available until 31 March 2014, gives an upfront grant of £1,300 towards the installation cost of an air to water heat pump (there is no grant for air to air heat pumps).
An air to water heat pump would need the installation of radiators or underfloor heating. It would also be eligible to receive the renewable heat incentive when it is introduced next year. The £1,300 grant would be deducted from the renewable heat incentive payments over the seven year life of the scheme.
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