The Green Homes Grant is a government support scheme aimed to encourage energy efficiency across all households—with a voucher of up to £5,000 (or £10,000 for those on qualifying benefits) to be put to the cost of energy efficient and low carbon heating home improvements. This voucher will work by covering a minimum of two thirds of the cost of any listed improvement. A wide range of improvements are covered by the grant, including:
- Loft, Cavity Wall, and Floor Insulation
- Low Carbon Heating
- Double and triple glazing as a replacement for single glazing
- Energy efficient doors
- Draught proofing
- Heating controls and insulation
The Green Homes Grant looks to work on three levels: as a broad economic stimulus package, as a personal energy saving model, and most importantly as a way to reduce the overall carbon footprint and environmental impact of housing across the U.K. In terms of its individual impact, the Treasury has suggested that the scheme could help families save on average, £200 on their energy bills, with a carbon footprint reduction of 700kg per home.
In terms of its broader impact, the scheme could also help people add value to their homes, bringing increased flexibility and resale value to people, and helping to boost the housing market.
The grant is open to all homeowners. This will include both private and social landlords, who will have their grants capped at the same £5,000 figure. In order to qualify for the scheme, scheduled work must be completed – and the vouched redeemed – by the 31st March 2021. If this seems like plenty of time, you may need to reframe things. Factoring in the time it will take to get approval, to get quotes, and to get the work done, you need to be signing up as soon as possible. Especially in light of the popularity of the scheme, which only has a finite amount of funding available.
Whilst no announcements have been made, industry insiders have been vocal about wanting to see the scheme continue, especially in light of its popularity, with 62% of homeowners in England registering interest in the scheme.
Low Income Scheme
To help those in low income households the grant can be extended up to £10,000 without any contributions from the recipient. A household will qualify for this scheme if they receive at least one of the following:
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Child Tax Credits (CTC)
- Contribution based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Contribution based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Contribution based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Income based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Income Support (IS)
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Housing benefit
- Pension Guarantee Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Working Tax Credit (WTC)
Other Funding Programs
There are a number of other programs offering support for the energy saving measures, and it’s important to understand how you can access these, and how they work alongside the Green Homes Grant.
The Energy Company Obligation scheme(ECO), is a scheme that has run since 2013 in a number of variations, all focused on promoting the installation of energy saving measures by energy suppliers, with the latest version targeting lower income households and running until March 2022. If a measure has already received ECO funding, you will not be able to claim a Green Homes Grant to contribute towards it, however you can claim both for separate measures within the same home.
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is a scheme that provides households with money towards the cost of renewable heating in their home. These payments are made over the course of 7 years, and are calculated based on the amount of renewable heat generated by your heating system. You can claim both of these schemes, but you must notify Ofgem of any Green Home Grant claims when you apply for RHI accreditation, this will then be deducted from your final RHI payments.
The first category of measures covered by the Green Homes Grant—and the compulsory one you must opt for in order to be eligible, are the Primary measures. The primary measures encompass a wide variety of either insulation or low carbon heating options.
It’s important to note that for insulation—you cannot claim a voucher to replace any existing insulation. However, you can top up insulation, or insulate areas of the home not already insulated. Likewise, the carbon heating category encompasses all the main low carbon heating options available on the market today, however there are restrictions. The heating must be replacing a fossil fuel system, and must be used to heat only space heating or domestic, no outside heating or other options.
If there is money remaining on your voucher after accounting for primary measures, you will then be able to use it on the secondary measures classification. This mainly consists of window and door measures such as double glazing, as well as any heating control systems.
What Isn’t Covered
Before you decide to move forward and take advantage of the Green Homes Grant, you need to ensure that the work you need is covered by the grant. There are a number of notable exclusions, the most common being boiler replacements and solar panels. Whilst Solar Panels are a tremendous green measure, this grant is focused on heating and insulation measures. As a final note—some of the measures may require planning permission, and you need to factor this in when ensuring the measures will be completed before the March deadline.
Other Parts Of The UK
The Green Homes Grant is only available to homeowners in England, however there are separate energy schemes being run across Scotland, Wales, And Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, financial help for energy saving measures can be found from both the Warmer Homes Scotland Scheme, and the Home Energy Scotland loan scheme. The Warmer Homes Scotland Scheme provides homeowners and private tenants who’ve been in their home more than 12 months with assistance for insulation and draught-proofing—provided they meet eligibility requirements. The Home Energy Scotland loan scheme provides owners and landlords with interest-free loans to assist with improvements.
For Welsh residents—there is no universal assistance option, however the Nest scheme does offer free advice to homeowners for how they can improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Additionally, the scheme provides free improvements for those who are either in receipt of means-tested benefits, on low income, or have a chronic respiratory, circulatory, or mental health condition.
In Northern Ireland, there are two schemes available to homeowners: the Boiler Replacement Scheme and the Affordable Warmth Scheme. With the Boiler Replacement Scheme, homeowners with a household income of less than £40,000 can access a grant of up to £1000 to replace any boiler older than 15 years old. The Affordable Warmth Scheme offers homeowners and renters with an income of less than £20,000 grants of up to £7,500 to make improvements to their home.
It’s important that people pay close attention to the two primary categories being used to distinguish between the various types of improvements covered by the grant. This is because in order to receive the vouchers, homeowners must install at least one measure from the primary category. They will then also receive a contribution to any secondary measures also covered by the £5000 voucher. The primary category covers both insulation and low carbon heating, with a full list to follow below:
- Solid wall insulation (internal or external)
- Cavity wall insulation
- Under-floor insulation (solid floor, suspended floor)
- Loft insulation
- Flat roof insulation
- Pitched roof insulation
- Room in roof insulation
- Insulating a park home
Low Carbon Heating
- Air source heat pump
- Ground source heat pump
- Solar thermal (liquid filled flat plate or evacuated tube collector)
- Biomass boiler
- Hybrid heat pump
Finding The Right Tradespeople
In order to be eligible for the vouchers, your energy saving measures must be installed by either a TrustMark or Microgeneration Scheme Certification registered tradesperson. A Trust Mark registered installer can be found here, and an MCS certified installer can be found here. The government estimates that around 900 installers —many of whom operate on a nationwide basis—have signed up for the scheme, with more expected to follow.
However, there are some areas that remain uncovered by the scheme due to a lack of certified tradespeople, so it’s important to check first before planning on including any work in the scheme. It’s also important you understand what you can expect, as installers may still ask for a deposit—but it can’t be larger than your expected contribution for the measure in question. Furthermore, if you’re eligible for the extra £10,000 voucher, you can’t be asked for a deposit unless the total cost is more than £10,000.
As a final note of caution—sometimes you can find yourself being overcharged as a result of schemes of this nature, so it’s always a good idea to get a quote from outside the scheme so that you can compare.
How To Apply
The process for applying for a Green Homes Grant is a relatively simple one, you just need to take the following steps.
Check Your Eligibility
To check your eligibility, as well as the eligible improvements that apply to your home, visit https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/green-homes-grant/questionnaire and https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/energy-efficiency/home-improvements
Apply For The Voucher
You can apply for the voucher online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-green-homes-grant
Get A Quote
In order to be eligible you need at least one quote from a Green Homes Grant registered installer, however it’s always good to shop around and get a range of quotes to make sure you’re getting the best price.
Getting The Voucher
Vouchers will be issued from early November onwards. You will receive a separate voucher for each measure you have selected, and each voucher can only be used by the named applicant for the measure stated. Work can only begin once the voucher has been issued, and the voucher will remain valid from either 3 months after the date of issue or until the 31st March 2021.
Redeem the voucher
In order to redeem the voucher you’ll need to confirm that:
- The installation was completed satisfactorily before the voucher expiry date
- You have received the necessary documents from the certified installer
- You have paid your share of the costs of the measures
- Proof of meeting the eligibility requirements
- A dated copy of the invoice for the completed work
With houses across the U.K lagging behind when it comes to energy efficiency, it’s vital for both the environment and for homeowners that these measures are implemented. However, with limited funds and availability, it’s important to act fast. And, to make sure that this scheme is the right approach for the measures your home needs.