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What is the Great British Insulation Scheme (ECO+)?

In this article we’ll look at what ECO+ actually does and how it relates to the existing UK Government scheme ECO4.
Ecology News
2023-09-01T00:00:00.000Z
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The UK has a high number of poorly insulated homes, in fact some studies suggest that of all the countries in Europe the UK has the most inefficient housing when it comes to energy. This means that almost 2.5 million families in the United Kingdom are living in poor housing conditions. 

The Great British Insulation Scheme (otherwise known as ECO+ or ECO Plus) is a new government energy scheme that aims to improve living conditions and reduce fuel poverty by helping thousands of people across the UK to more effectively insulate their homes. 

👉 In this article we’ll look at what ECO+ actually does and how it relates to the existing UK Government scheme ECO4.

What is the Great British Insulation Scheme (ECO+)?

The Great British Insulation Scheme (ECO+) will be administered by Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), whose role it is to regulate and oversee the companies that operate the UK’s gas and electricity market. 

The primary role of the Great British Insulation Scheme (ECO+) is to help the least energy efficient homes in the UK to become more energy efficient and to help them reduce their energy bills.

The Great British Insulation Scheme complements the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4 scheme) which retrofits low-income households, but ECO+ differs in its approach by providing single insulation measures. 

The ECO+ scheme works to support low-income and vulnerable households, as well as those who are living in homes with specific (low) energy ratings. It also places an obligation on medium and large sized companies to reduce their energy usage

UK house

ECO+ in more detail

ECO+ provides grant funded insulation measures that will help households across the UK to become more energy efficient and to also bring down their energy bills - something that is on a lot of people's minds given the ongoing cost of living crisis. 

The UK Government has placed £1 billion behind the scheme and will provide grants that cover the installation of loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and smart heating controls - up to £1,500 may be provided to individual households who don’t currently benefit from government support. Around 70,000 homes are expected to benefit from the scheme. 

80% of the overall funding pot will help those living in the least energy efficient homes in the country and 20% of the funding is targeted at the most vulnerable, such as those who are on means tested benefits or living in fuel poverty. 

The UK Government scheme requires that energy companies reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to help the UK Government reach its net zero targets. Additionally they must help UK households who are struggling with their fuel bills. They must deliver on savings by implementing energy efficiency measures in UK households.

EPC ratings and council tax bands

The ECO+ insulation scheme aims to support the most vulnerable homes, as well as those that are the least energy efficient. It does this by targeting homes with a certain EPC rating and homes within a certain council tax band

An EPC rating is a review of a property’s energy efficiency. It provides information on a property’s energy use and costs, as well as recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption and also information on how to save money. The ratings range from A which are the most efficient to G which are the least efficient. 

The ECO+ scheme provides grants to homes with an EPC rating of D or below (ie. the least energy efficient homes) or homes that are in the lower council tax bands: 

  • England = homes in council tax bands A to D
  • Scotland = homes in council tax bands A to E
  • Wales = homes in council tax bands A to C 

80% of the ECO+ scheme funding will go towards households within these EPC ratings and council tax bands. The remaining 20% is focused on low-income households.

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How does ECO+ fit in with the existing ECO4 scheme?

The Great British Insulation Scheme, or ECO+ is complementary to the current ECO4 scheme (otherwise known as the Energy Company Obligation) and aims to expand the number of households benefiting from the ECO scheme. The two schemes overlap significantly with the ECO+ covering low income homes that cannot meet the ECO4 minimum score improvement requirement but that have an EPC rating of D or below. 

The ECO4 scheme has been running since 2013 and is currently in its fourth phase. It has already installed around 3.5 million energy-efficiency measures in over 2.4 million homes across the UK. The current phase of the scheme has £4 billion worth of funding behind it and aims to not only tackle fuel poverty but also to improve the energy efficiency of energy suppliers in the UK. 

ECO4 has a particular focus on helping single parents, those with disabilities and those who are struggling financially. The scheme utilizes criteria to determine whether or not a household qualities for support from energy suppliers. Generally speaking those who are eligible are those who receive qualifying benefits and are also a homeowner or private tenant. Qualifying benefits include: income-based jobseekers allowance (JSA), income-related employment & support allowance (ESA), income support (IS), pension credit guarantee, working tax credit (WTC), child tax credits (CTC), universal credit (UC), housing benefit, pension credit savings credit. Full details on eligibility can be found here

The ECO+ scheme has an expanded scope and also covers those who don’t necessarily fall under the low-income category, but are inefficient when it comes to energy consumption - ie. they have an EPC rating of D or below.

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How does the ECO+ grant work?

The type of insulation that a household eligible for ECO+ insulation will receive depends on a number of factors. In the first place the household will be assessed by an accredited professional who will determine the most appropriate measures. 

In the majority of cases cavity wall insulation or loft insulation will be the proposed method since these tend to be cheaper to install and the ECO+ scheme funding is most likely to cover the full cost. Methods such as solid wall insulation are more cost intensive and will probably need a contribution from the customer.

How does ECO+ help conserve energy and lower energy costs?

Homes and buildings in the UK lose heat through walls, lofts, windows and even floors. Thankfully insulation is one of the best ways to prevent this. Insulation works to prevent the heat inside homes and buildings from escaping in the first place which means that less energy is needed to heat the building, and less energy is required to replace any lost heat.

Of course it goes without saying that by reducing the amount of energy that is consumed, households in the UK will also be able to reduce their energy bills. 

Insulation not only helps to keep homes warmer and more comfortable but also helps to reduce carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are one of the main driving forces behind global warming and so by reducing carbon emissions we can prevent further global temperature rises and contribute to the net zero target - win-win!

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ECO+ media campaign

Alongside the actual grants offered by the ECO+ scheme the UK Government is launching a public information campaign that will offer technical tips and advice on how to cut down energy use and how to keep warm in winter months. 

The campaign will show how the UK’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is protecting UK customers from increasing energy costs by limiting how much suppliers are able to charge for energy. It will also share information and advice on what actions consumers can take to make savings on their energy bills. 

Examples of the sort of advice it will offer include: 

  • Reducing the boiler flow temperature from 75 degrees celsius to 60 degrees - ie. the temperature a boiler heats water to before sending it through the radiators
  • Switching off or turning down radiators in empty rooms
  • Draught proofing windows and doors in homes to stop heat loss
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Round up

The UK has some of the least efficient homes in all of Europe, and significant improvements are needed if the UK is to reach its targets of decarbonisation and net zero emissions by 2050. Not only this, but the cost of living crisis is pushing increasing numbers of people in the UK towards fuel poverty. 

The ECO+ scheme works to expand the scope of ECO4 and aims to help those most in need, as well as those living in the most energy inefficient homes. Although the scheme is only expected to benefit 70,000 homes it’s a good start and will hopefully pave the way for more UK Government schemes of a similar nature.

What about Greenly?

At Greenly we can help you to assess your company’s carbon footprint, and then give you the tools you need to cut down on emissions. Why not request a free demo with one of our experts - no obligation or commitment required. 

If reading this article has inspired you to consider your company’s own carbon footprint, Greenly can help. Learn more about Greenly’s carbon management platform here.

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