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Blog Post 24 November 2020

Ask the experts: improving your home with the Green Homes Grant scheme

With the winter months fast approaching, many of us are starting to think about how to make our homes warmer and reduce our heating bills.

If you live in England, there is help available through the UK Government’s Green Homes Grant scheme. Homeowners and landlords can apply for a voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to their home.

We partnered with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to offer users of online forum Mumsnet the opportunity to ask any burning questions about the scheme.

Here, we’ve gathered the questions, together with answers from experts Ben Golding (BG), director of energy efficiency and local at BEIS, and Laura McGadie (LM), Energy Saving Trust’s group head of energy.

How do you find out if you are eligible?

BG: The Green Homes Grant is open to all homeowners – either owner occupiers or landlords – so most households will qualify. You can check your eligibility, and what technologies might be most suitable for your home, by going to greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk

Is the previous scheme that helped towards replacement of a faulty or inefficient boiler still running? This new scheme seems to offer everything except a boiler.

BG: You’re right that the Green Home Grant doesn’t cover boilers, though you can use it to get a new low carbon heating system such as a heat pump. I think the other scheme you’re referring to might be the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which is still available alongside the Green Homes Grant to support energy efficiency, including boilers where appropriate, though it’s primarily aimed at lower income households. You can find out about it at gov.uk/energy-company-obligation

LM: As Ben says, funding is still available across Great Britain for boiler replacements in some circumstances through the Energy Company Obligation scheme (ECO). If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may also be able to get support through schemes running in your area. There are a number of schemes in Scotland that you can find out about from Home Energy Scotland, in Wales there is the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme and in Northern Ireland you can find out about schemes from Northern Ireland Energy Advice.

On the link it says its only applicable to England. Will it be rolled out to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?

BG: Yes, that’s right, the scheme is England only. Energy efficiency policy is devolved, which means that the governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can choose to operate their own policies. You’ll be able to find out what’s available in your area by going to the government website for the part of the UK you are in.

LM: As an independent organisation dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and sustainable energy use across throughout the UK, Energy Saving Trust manages, administers or supports similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are a number of schemes in Scotland that you can find out about from Home Energy Scotland, in Wales there is the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme and in Northern Ireland you can find out about schemes from Northern Ireland Energy Advice. For more information about these schemes and how you can find out your eligibility please use the following links:

I have a short-term tenancy and see myself wanting to buy in around 18 months. If I were to apply and receive this grant for the property (or would my landlord need to apply?), would I be eligible to apply in a future 'owned' property? Are there any checks done that would exclude future grant claims?

BG: The Green Home Grant is open to homeowners, which means it would be your landlord who needs to apply for the grant if you’re in a rented property. If you do move, then you’ll absolutely be able to apply for a separate grant as the owner of your new property, so long as the scheme is open. There are checks in place to prevent people applying multiple times for the same property, but in the case you’re describing, it would be absolutely fine.

We live in a grade 2 listed property. Can we apply?

BG: Yes, you can apply. You’ll want to discuss what’s appropriate for your property with your installer when arranging a quote, but there are plenty of options under the Green Homes Grant that can be installed in a listed building. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got any required planning or other consents for whatever work you choose to do.

LM: Following on from Ben’s response, if your property is listed, then there will be restrictions on what changes you are allowed to make. You should contact your local authority to find out what is permitted. If you can get approval to make an improvement, then you could potentially claim the Green Homes Grant provided it meets the scheme criteria.

Do you have to be in receipt of benefits to be eligible?

BG: In short, no, you do not have to claim benefits to be eligible for the Green Homes Grant. If you are a homeowner or residential landlord in England, you are potentially eligible for the scheme. Vouchers will cover two-thirds of the cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum government contribution of £5,000. If you, or someone in your household, receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a voucher covering 100% of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is £10,000. To check what level of support you can claim, please visit gov.uk/check-eligible-green-homes-grant

Can the grant be used in conjunction with the Renewable Heat Incentive?

BG: Yes, it can, but we’ll adjust the total you receive through the Renewable Heat Incentive if you’re using both. The grant helps pay for the upfront cost, and the Renewable Heat Incentive is paid out over time. So the support you get from the Green Homes Grant will be deducted from what you receive over time from the Renewable Heat Incentive. No need to worry about the amounts – it’ll be calculated and adjusted for you. You can find more detail at www.ofgem.gov.uk/key-term-explained/grants

LM: To follow on from Ben’s response, you could claim Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments for a heating system such as a heat pump. For more information on heat pumps and renewable heat sources, visit Energy Saving Trust’s advice page.

How long is the application process?

BG: Not long at all. You can check your eligibility at greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk and then it’s just a simple online form to submit the application. You’ll just need to have a quote for the work you want carried out, and the Trustmark registration number of the installer you’ve chosen (which your installer will be able to give you), to include in the application.

What’s the most impact I can make with the grant?

BG: If you’re thinking about impact on the environment, all of the eligible measures will help, by reducing the amount of energy you use and by switching to lower carbon energy. Big building fabric changes, like insulation or switching from a boiler to low carbon heating, will typically have the biggest impact, but anything you do under the grant will help.

LM: The potential savings you can achieve vary depending on your home’s current energy efficiency level. The effect of installing the same measure in two different homes may vary considerably. You can visit greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk to build your personalised plan. Energy Saving Trust offers information on what eligible measures the Green Home Grant vouchers cover and will make the most impact on your home energy efficiency. Visit Energy Saving Trust’s home energy advice page.

I'd love to leverage this, but the site tells me that nobody is available in my area for most of the things needed in my house. What can I do?

BG: We’re working hard with industry to get more installers signed up, and more are registering every day, so keep checking back. But it’s also worth giving some of the companies listed on the site a call. Quite a few operate at national scale, so even though their office address might be a fair way from you, they might well have installers able to operate in your area.

Would I be able to select my company to provide the work to my home, or would they need to be on a government approved list (with all of the appropriate checks I would require so I have assurance I would have a trusted provider carrying out work on my home)?

BG: Yes, you can choose the company, but they will need to be a Green Homes Grant registered installer, which gives you the reassurance that they have the right training and expertise, and are signed up to the customer protections and guarantees you’d expect. You can find the details of registered firms in your area through the greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk website.

Do I need a survey on my home to see if it suitable?

BG: The Green Homes Grant scheme itself doesn’t require a survey. You just need the property details and a quote from a Green Homes Grant registered installer. But you will want to make sure you work with your chosen installer to ensure that the measures you want to install are done in a way that’s suitable for your property.

Is there anything for tenants? Some landlords don't care about their energy bills, but I certainly do as the person paying them.

BG: The application for the scheme has to come from the homeowner, but that can be the landlord in the case of rented accommodation, so it’s certainly worth talking to yours about the scheme. Landlords will be aware that the Government has now introduced minimum energy efficiency standards for rented properties, and we’re currently consulting on raising those, to help save carbon and save tenants money on their bills, so it’s in your landlord’s interest to take advantage of the voucher scheme ahead of those standards coming into force.

LM: Following on from Ben’s response, the Energy Company Obligation scheme (ECO) may be able to offer advice and support relevant to your needs. You can visit www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/eco to find out more.

What’s the average timescale of receiving a grant after work has been completed?

BG: Once you’ve received the voucher and the work is completed and validated, we aim in most cases to process the grant funding within five working days.

You can find out more about the Green Homes Grant scheme, including eligibility and a list of approved measures, on our dedicated scheme advice page.