‘Don’t miss out on this opportunity to create a warm cosy home for the winter months approaching whilst at the same time saving on energy bills and reducing your carbon emissions. Here’s a summary of how the new government Green Homes Grant scheme works and how you might benefit, along with advice on how to make the most of the scheme…
What is the Green Homes Grant?
The Green Homes Grant is a new government scheme offering homeowners and residential landlords financial help towards home energy efficiency and low-carbon heating improvements in England.
Vouchers of up to £5,000 are available, covering up to two thirds of the cost of these improvements. For example, spend £7,500 on qualifying work and you could receive a voucher for the full £5,000; if you have £6,000 of qualifying work to complete, you could be in line for a voucher for £4,000.
Those who receive certain means-tested benefits may be eligible for a voucher covering all the costs of these improvements up to £10,000.
What can I spend the grant on?
The available measures are split into “primary” and “secondary” categories and households will need to install at least one of the primary measures found in the table below, to qualify for funding.
As long as there is at least one primary measure in the package of works, households will also be able to install secondary measures. Secondary measures can only be subsidised up to the amount provided for primary measures (e.g. if you receive £500 for a primary measure like solid wall insulation, you will be eligible for up to £500 for a secondary measure, such as draught-proofing).
• solid wall
• under floor
• cavity wall
• flat roof
• room in roof
• insulating a park home
Low carbon heat measures
For low-carbon heating to be installed, households will need to have adequate insulation (e.g. wall and loft, where applicable). These can be installed as part of a package – they do not have to already be in situ.
• air or ground source heat pump
• solar thermal (liquid-filled flat plate or evacuated tube collectors)
• biomass boilers
• Draught proofing
• Double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazed windows)
• Secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
• External energy-efficient doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
• Heating controls
• Hot water tank thermostats and insulation
How and when can I apply for the grant?
You will be able to apply online for the grant from the 30 September 2020. You can go online and check your availability for the grant via the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) questionnaire. Be aware that grant vouchers can only be redeemed once the work has been completed, so you’ll need to act quickly in order to ensure that any work has been completed before the 31st March 2021 when the grant closes.
What should I do now?
1. Make a plan: Think about your end goal. How do you use your home? Are there any problem areas? Do you know which measures are most appropriate for your home?
You may end up with a plan involving multiple measures, if so, consider which you can tackle now without hindering your ability to tackle the rest at a later date.
2. Learn more: Understand the measures you want to install so you can ask the right questions of your contractors. Here are some useful resources:
– A beginner’s guide to retrofit – with Russell Smith of RetrofitWorks. A great Podcast introducing the key steps to take to improve your home.
– Carbon Co-op has a wealth of information and online webinars to attend for free or on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. We particularly recommend watching the Introduction to the Green Homes Grant webinar.
– Energy Saving Trust, Centre for Sustainable Energy, and AECB. All have great informative articles detailing different measures
3. Find certified contractors: For this scheme, the eligibility of contractors is limited to those that are Trustmark accredited or those registered through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for those contractors installing low carbon heating. Search for eligible contractors in your area on the SEA website.
Be aware of potential cold caller scams. Criminals exploit new trends and investments to deceive and defraud consumers. If you’re not sure that a call, message, or contact is genuine, take time to check the details of the individual or company.
4. Get quotes: Eligible contractors are likely to be very busy, so we recommend you start the process of organising quotes as soon as possible to ensure that you can take advantage of the scheme. It is always prudent to try and obtain two or three quotes.
Words of Advice
Consider your whole house: this is about taking a holistic approach to your home and understanding how different measures relate to each other. What you want to avoid is doing a load of work and then having to remove it in a year’s time when you want to make further improvements. This doesn’t mean that you need to do all measures at once, it’s more about considering your end goal and having a clear plan, even if that means a phased approach over a number of years. It also makes sense to tie in measures with other building work, for example, if you have future plans to upgrade your kitchen, make sure to consider insulation work in that room at the same time.
The SEA website can provide a very simple assessment of your home based on available data. This won’t be as beneficial as having a physical survey, but it can give you an idea of the sorts of measures that could apply to your home. As the data used to generate this survey is often incomplete be sure to ask contractors whether the chosen measures are the most appropriate for your home or whether there may be others you’ve not considered.
It’s important to understand that you are unlikely to get everything you need to be done through this grant and to see it as the first step on a journey to an improved home.
The following areas should also be taken into consideration:
Fabric First: This is a well-agreed core principle of any building energy efficiency work. It refers to the idea that improving the fabric of the house (insulating/draft proofing etc.) to reduce the energy demand is something that should be completed before looking at renewable heating systems. Reducing heat losses from the house has been proven not only to allow low-carbon heating systems (e.g. biomass boilers, heat pumps) to run more economically and efficiently but also to make the house more comfortable all year round.
Quality: The quality of the installation of measures has been an issue in past government schemes. As explained above, contractors have to hold certain certifications in order to be able to provide installations under the Green Homes Grant. However, to provide further reassurance, we recommend that you spend a bit of time learning about the risks of the measures so you can be equipped with the right questions to ask contractors.
Ventilation: In the interests of improving energy efficiency and comfort, some draught-proofing will almost certainly be necessary so that the movement of air through the house is dictated by the homeowners’ wishes, rather than the prevailing weather conditions. Without this, the benefits of insulation will be limited. However, issues of damp can arise if controlled ventilation isn’t considered, so be sure to ask your contractors about the impact of any measures on the ventilation of the home.
We hope you found this blog useful, if you have questions on the Green Homes Grant
please comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would be happy to try and help.
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Anita Barton and Toby Putnam