There are lots of schemes and grants to help people on lower incomes improve their home's energy efficiency, yet much of the money goes unclaimed each year. Read on to find out what's available and who's eligible.
Get a new boiler
Many of the big energy suppliers offer free boilers and installation to people receiving certain benefits. According to the Energy Saving Trust, boilers account for more than half of what people spend each year on energy bills. The more efficient your boiler is, the more heat it will produce from each gas unit, which means your home with be warmer for less. Getting a new efficient boiler (worth around £2,300) could cut your energy bills by £100 to £340 a year. If your boiler breaks but isn't inefficient, you may be offered a repair rather than a new one.
To qualify for a free boiler you generally have to be in receipt of tax credits and have a household income of less than £15,860, or be in receipt of income-based benefits, such as pension credit or income support, and you have children, a disabled person in the household, or are over 60. If you live in a housing association property or are a council tenant you won't be eligible – but there may be other schemes you can apply to.
To check if you qualify call the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales), 0800 1422 865 (Northern Ireland) or 0808 808 22 82 (Scotland).
While the fitting of the boiler may be free, be aware that you may have to pay for any extra work, such as moving the boiler or installing additional radiators. You should be told how much this will cost before the work is done.
To find out more, contact a supplier for a free assessment. Eligibility criteria can differ between companies, so it's worth calling a few. You don't need to be a customer of that company to apply for the deal. To contact British Gas call 0800 316 3392. To find out about EDF Energy's free boiler scheme, call 0800 096 8634. Npower is 0800 980 3355.
Cavity wall and loft insulation
Cavity wall insulation can lower the energy bill of an average three-bedroom house by £150 or more every year. As much as 25 per cent of a home's heat escapes through the roof – so get your loft insulated and you could save a further £150 a year.
To qualify for free cavity and loft insulation you usually have to be in benefit of child tax credit and earn £15,860 or less a year, or to be receiving certain benefits such as pension credit. Again, if you live in a housing association property or are a council tenant you will not be eligible. However, the housing association or council are likely to have their own schemes you can apply to. If you live in a flat, the whole block will need to have insulation installed.
If you call the Energy Saving Trust (number shown above) they should be able to tell you what you're able to get. Contact a provider to find out if your home meets their requirements. British Gas is currently giving insulation free to those with a qualifying home, regardless of income and benefit status. Again, you don't have to be a British Gas customer to qualify. You might also like to try these providers: EDF call 0800 096 8634, E.on 0330 4001195. Npower 0800 072 1741. SSE 0800 975 2844.
Have you had a boiler or insulation for free? Leave a comment below...