The Affordable Warmth Obligation aims to help ensure that every household has the opportunity and means to improve the energy efficiency of their home. This is done through grants which are awarded to qualifying households in order to make energy efficiency focused improvements in areas such as wall cavity installation, loft insulation and for the installation of energy efficient boilers. For the household, this can mean a home that is easier to heat in the winter and alongside that, lower energy bills. For the government, this can mean a reduction in the amount of energy that you are using as a household, therefore reducing your carbon footprint and helping to contribute towards meeting nationwide green targets with regards to reducing carbon emissions.
As this program benefits both the household and some overarching climate change commitments on the side of the government, the application process has become more wide ranging and available to more households. Many companies can now offer to check eligibility and do much of the engagement with government organisations and paperwork on your behalf. However, eligibility rules do apply and unfortunately, not every household will qualify.
The idea of these grants is to fix or improve an existing problem. As of 2018 rules on renting properties mean that no tenant should be currently living in a property with an Energy Efficiency Rating below E. It is therefore likely that to be accepted for a boiler or heating grant, a problem with the existing installation needs to be evident.
The criteria for eligibility falls into two general categories; Those that live in Social Housing and those in private accommodation. Generally, households with earnings of over £40,000 per annum are likely to see applications rejected.
For Social Housing- Eligibility for an improvement grant will be based largely on the current efficiency of the social housing that you are currently living in. If it is assessed as having an energy efficiency rating below D, then you may be able to get a grant to help boost that rating. If you are unsure of the current efficiency of your home, there is an online tool called the energy performance certificate register, or EPC register. From here you can find accredited assessors information or retrieve previous assessments, so long as you have access to the last report reference number.
For those in private accommodation (Own your own home or renting privately)- If you are renting privately then it is important to note that you must have the permission of your landlord before any changes or improvements to the building are made. After you have permission, eligibility is the same whether you are renting or own your own home. You are likely to be considered for a grant if you are in receipt of:
Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Pension Guarantee Credit, income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Allowance, War Pensions Mobility Supplement, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance.
If you are in receipt of any other benefit that you feel might qualify you for a grant, you can check your personal eligibility through the Affordable Warmth Grants government website.
Which improvements should you consider?
If your boiler is breaking down, it can be fairly obvious. If the hot water tap isn’t quite as hot as it once was or that the radiators simply aren’t getting up to any sort of temperature, you have a good indication that something is wrong. If your boiler is found to be faulty, a grant relating to the boiler itself or the heating system in general will be appropriate. However, we are not all heating and energy efficient experts and not all problems or areas for improvement are as obvious.
With an ever growing industry constantly pushing out the latest innovations and products to make our homes warmer and greener, it can be difficult to decide which products will give the best results. It is also important to understand that the grants do not always cover the full costs of the improvement works and tenants, homeowners or landlords may be expected to pay a percentage of the costs. That being said, an approved grant, if it does not cover the full cost, will still cover a high percentage of the costs.
There are now many accredited companies that can offer to carry out a survey of your home in order to determine the most efficient and cost effective ways to insulate or improve your home. Some of the more popular methods include laying an extra layer of loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and boiler repairs or replacements.
How to Apply
This scheme is currently available in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales currently operates a similar scheme known as the NEST scheme.
The most direct way to apply for anyone living in social housing is to visit nihe.gov.uk and select the relevant grant for you. This could be a renovation grant, repair or replacement grant amongst others. For private tenants or homeowners, visit the gov.uk website and search affordable warmth. Sometimes these sites can be seemingly over complicated and difficult to navigate to the solution that best suits you. Fortunately, there are a number of accredited companies that exist to help you through the application process, which includes the big six energy suppliers and a whole raft of other national and local suppliers as well.
If you are currently considering improvements or in need of repair work, it would definitely be worth raising an enquiry with one of these companies to see if you are eligible for any assistance. A quick internet search will find many companies able to check against your details and provide a quick answer with regards to your eligibility and if successful, you could save thousands of pounds.