As of the 30th September 2020, the ‘Green Homes Grant’ is up and running. This scheme offers vouchers up to a value of £10,000 to contribute towards making ‘green’ upgrades to homes across the UK. Current plans are to run this scheme out until at least March 2022, a 12-month extension on the original deadline.
So far reports are positive. The 12-month extension is due to a high volume of enquiries which could have led to issues finding enough certified installers to carry out all of the work. Hopefully these improvements will help kick start the UK’s post COVID economy as well as helping us along towards the eventual aim of becoming carbon neutral.
Which improvements are covered by the scheme?
Eligible energy saving improvements are split into two categories, Primary and Secondary Measures. These are important to understand as they form a large part of what you can and cannot use the grants for. To start with, at least one Primary Measure grant must have been approved before a Secondary Measure is considered. Also, Secondary Measures must not be more expensive than any of the Primary Measures.
Primary Measure grants are for air or ground source heat pumps, solar thermal and for insulation throughout your home. The grants for each of these also come with certain conditions. The heat pump requires the installation of wall and loft insulation, which is also a requirement for solar.
Secondary Measure grants are for lower priority improvement works. That said, it is likely that some of the Secondary Measures will be the most desired by households. This category includes work replacing double or triple glazing, installation of energy efficient doors, draught proofing and improvements to heating systems (This can include installing smart hubs, zone control and thermostatic radiator valves).
The total value of the Secondary Measure voucher cannot exceed the value you have received for the Primary Measure.
Will I save money if I upgrade?
In short, yes. Although the amount of money you will save depends on your existing set up and which improvements you wish to undertake. For example, replacing a storage heater system with an air source heat pump could reduce heating bills by nearly £700 per year. On the other end of that scale, carrying out draught proofing is only likely to give savings of around £5 per year.
Although the vouchers will pay for around two thirds of the cost, the rest is from the household. Using an example of £5000 worth of work, this would mean the household would need to contribute around £1670.
For those on low incomes the mandatory contribution will not apply. The maximum £10,000 voucher is only available to those on low income. For anyone else a cap of £5000 applies.
Which improvements will work best in my home?
This can be difficult to identify. Many companies will offer to carry out a survey of your home to determine which upgrades will produce the best results. There are also a number of online resources that you can use such as the government approved https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/. Here you will find impartial advice on reducing energy bills and help with planning home improvements.
One way to check the efficiency of your own home (without any technical expertise) is to run a quick survey.
Start with checking your boiler. How old is it? How long does it take to heat your home by 5 degrees? When was the last time it was serviced? Use the answers to compare your system to a modern and efficient one.
When did you last bleed the radiators? Do your radiators heat at one side but not the other, or along the bottom but not the top? If so, you may need air purged from the system. This simple task can have a huge impact.
Can you feel a draught around your doors and windows? You may already have double or even triple glazed windows installed but how long have you had it? Seals will degrade over time and simply moving your hand around the panes of glass can help identify any weak areas.
Is the loft space sealed? Check around any entrance points to the attic for any draughts.
How to apply
Now that you have an idea of what you want and understand that you will need to contribute towards the work, it is time to start the process. First you will need to confirm your eligibility. This can be done via the gov.uk website.
Following the process, you will check on which improvements are suitable for your home. Then choose which improvements you would like to make and see an estimate of the overall costs. The next step will be to find a registered installer who can provide quotes for the work. Once that is all done you can apply for your voucher.
Are there any exemptions?
This scheme is currently only open to domestic properties. As things stand, commercial premises will not be eligible. You must also use an accredited installer to carry out the work. A list is provided on making your application but using any other installer will leave you footing the entire bill.