What is the ECO+ scheme?
More homes qualify for help with the cost of insulation under the new government-funded initiative
The government has announced the new ECO+ scheme with the aim of enabling more homes to qualify for help with the cost of insulation.
Starting in spring 2023, the scheme will run for up to three years covering measures such as such as cavity, loft and solid wall insulation. The Government claims such measures will save households an average of £310 per year on annual energy bills.
‘I know many families are feeling worried about their energy bills this winter and beyond,’ says Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt. ‘The new ECO+ scheme will help hundreds of thousands of people across the UK to better insulate their homes.’
The scheme will be supported by an £18m public information campaign from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy offering advice on how to reduce energy use in the home.
How does the ECO+ scheme work?
The majority of the £1billion ECO+ fund will be available to those with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or below. An EPC rating is a measurement of how much energy is needed to keep a home at a comfortable temperature. An A-rated building is most efficient with a G-rating indicating the worst performance.
It will also be available to people with homes in the lower Council Tax bands (A-D in England, A-E in Scotland and A-C in Wales) in combination with their low EPC rating.
The proposal extends the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a government initiative aiming to reduce household carbon emissions and combat fuel poverty. Launched in April 2013, the most recent amendment, ECO4, applies to measures installed from 1 April 2022.
What do the experts think?
‘The government’s new £1bn scheme to insulate middle-income homes is a great idea and one that customers should certainly utilise,’ says Rebecca Armstrong, Director of home energy efficiency installer experts, MEG. ‘It is ideal for customers that don’t qualify for the various other eco-schemes, especially those customers that aren’t in receipt of benefits, but are still suffering fuel poverty brought on from the rising cost of living.’
‘This is welcome news for people facing rising energy bills,’ says a representative of North West Heating Solutions. ‘The proper insulation coupled with efficient, effective and economic heating systems is a giant step forward in remaining planet-positive. By choosing controllable heating and keeping that heat secure in a properly insulated home we can make an enormous financial contribution, not only to our wallets but to a greener future.’
But not everyone is convinced that the Eco+ scheme will deliver. ‘We welcome government help for those that need it to improve the energy performance of their homes,’ says Angela Kerr, Director of the HomeOwners Alliance. With energy prices painfully high for us all – and with the prospect of bills getting even more expensive in April – the more help that is offered to people in poorly insulated homes, the better.
‘But the scheme needs to be easy to apply for and the government needs to offer advice and protection for homeowners to ensure they don’t get stung by dodgy tradesmen,’ she adds. ‘We would also ask the government to not flip-flop on this latest proposal. The early closure of the Green Homes Grant was a disaster. Homeowners saving for and researching big energy efficiency improvements to their homes didn’t have time to do so and book an installer before the scheme was scrapped in March 2021 – a year earlier than planned.’