Is there help at hand?
Fuel poverty is a big issue in the UK, and that’s why the government introduced central heating grants through its ECO scheme. ECO – which stands for Energy Companies’ Obligation – was set up to enable the country’s largest energy suppliers to help make households more energy efficient. Each company has a target to meet based on the percentage of the market it serves and obliges them to promote actions that could save energy – such as through better insulation and upgraded heating systems.
I have a disability that makes it hard to afford fuel costs - can I apply?
If you are receiving Severe Disablement Allowance – which was recently renamed the Employment and Support Allowance – you are in one of the groups that may be eligible for help through the scheme. Severe Disablement Allowance is a benefit that is paid to those that have a serious health condition or disability that affects their ability to work.
You may be receiving Severe Disablement Allowance if you are employed but can only work a certain number of hours a week due to your condition. Or you may be receiving it because you need support to get back into work following a disability or health condition. Either way, your condition may make it difficult for you to afford living costs – and fuel bills that are higher than they need to be certainly don’t help.
How can I apply for a central heating grant through the ECO scheme if I have Severe Disablement Allowance?
Applying for a grant under the ECO scheme is easy. Although it’s a government-funded scheme, you need to apply through your energy supplier. Even though only the largest suppliers will be part of the ECO scheme, you are still entitled to support if you are with a smaller supplier. Simply find out who your supplier is and give them a call to find out what assistance they provide.
Most of the larger suppliers have simple application forms you can fill out via their websites to check your eligibility. These often take just a couple of minutes. After that, the supplier will take it from there. If you’re eligible, you’ll usually have a home visit from an engineer, who will perform a survey on your home and make recommendations based on your heating system.
So, if you’re in receipt of Severe Disablement Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, apply for help through the ECO scheme as soon as possible. If you’re not the homeowner, make sure you obtain permission from your landlord to make heating alterations before applying.
What type of boiler can qualify for a free ECO central heating grant?
As well as the applicant, the boiler that requires replacing must qualify as well, for a home to receive a free central heating grant via the ECO scheme.
In order to answer the established criteria, the boiler that needs replacing must be operating with an efficiency level no greater than 86 percent of its top capacity. Boilers that are operating with this standard of efficiency are typically rated from C to G, with the most efficient boiler carrying an A rating. Boilers that are around five years old or more are commonly found in this category and will meet the set criteria.
If boilers are confirmed to be damaged beyond viable repair expenses, they are also eligible for a grant as well as those with faults in functionality. Common faults in older models of boiler that could see them qualify include constantly requiring repressurising, pilot lights that won’t stay lit, models that leak water and produce considerable noise or those that are not able to provide basic central heating and hot water.
Even if a boiler has none of these issues, if it is C rated or lower for efficiency or is five years or older, it should be eligible to be replaced for free.