Can I get a free boiler?by Matthew Knight
Wondering if you can get a free boiler? Find out whether you're eligible for a boiler grant from the government or even a free boiler.
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If your boiler breaks down and you need to fork out for a replacement, you might be able to cut costs by claiming a grant from the government or even a free boiler.
Boiler grants, eco-schemes, rental schemes and even boilers that claim to pay you back in savings can all help you to avoid that initial cost. But not everyone is eligible for these schemes and sometimes choosing an option that takes care of the upfront cost can leave you out of pocket in the long run.
Here, we take a detailed look at the various options to help you decide which is best for you and your budget.
Whatever you decide, make sure you get the best and most reliable boiler for your home - don't forget to check out our expert boiler reviews.
Grants for free and reduced price boilers
Under the government's Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) scheme, some homeowners and private tenants can get their old, inefficient boilers replaced completely free of charge or have the cost of a replacement heavily subsidised.
The scheme was set up to help low-income families improve the efficiencies of their homes and reduce their carbon footprint. If you meet the criteria and your boiler is more than eight years old, you should qualify.
However, government funding is limited for this scheme and the benefits-related criteria are quite stringent. To find out more, visit our guide to the Energy Companies Obligation.
Until recently, you could also pay for a new boiler through the government-funded Green Deal scheme, but this has now been scrapped.
Flow: a boiler that pays for itself?
Flow is a gas condensing boiler that requires a separate hot water tank and uses its waste gases to turn a small turbine that generates electricity - around 2000kWh; the average annual electricity consumption for a UK household is 3200kWh.
The Flow can't store electricity, though, so you'll need to be using the electricity generated while the boiler is on to see your energy bills come down.
The Flow boiler is only really suitable for large homes of at least three bedrooms - ideally more. It costs £3,675, which is three times the cost of an equivalent Best Buy boiler.
The Flow boiler costs three times the equivalent of a Best Buy boiler
However, it's possible to get a Flow boiler with no upfront cost, courtesy of a self-financing package. This will tie you into a five-year deal while you pay off the cost of the boiler and installation, and also ties you into using Flow Energy as your energy provider.
Flow says that the cost of the boiler will be paid for by energy savings and feed-in tariff payments, which Flow will benefit from in the first five years of the deal. Flow says that your energy bills will still come down while you are paying of the cost of the boiler because you're saving so much energy. After five years, the boiler payments will stop and you can start to receive the benefits of feed-in tariff payments, which should lead to further reductions in your bills.
The Flow boiler was launched in 2015 and not enough of our members have one for us to comment on its reliability or what it's like to live with. You can register your interest on Flow's website, although availability is currently limited.
Flow is also an energy provider. Want to find out more about Flow and what its energy customers think of it? Click Flow Energy.
Rent a boiler
If you're not eligible for any boiler grants or a free replacement and you don't like the sound of Flow, you could consider renting a boiler.
Hassle Free Boilers, for example, will install a Vaillant boiler for you with no upfront cost. But you'll be tied into a lengthy 12-year contract with payments of £36.99 a month, which covers the boiler payment and an ongoing servicing contract. Hassle Free Boilers' terms and conditions also guarantee an increase in payments of 3% each year.
But after 12 years this adds up to £6,300, which is far in excess of the initial cost of the boiler and installation.
For example, even if you added the cost of a boiler servicing contract from a specialist boiler insurance company to the cost of one of the more expensive boilers on the market, say £1,200, this would add up to £5,136 over 12 years. This is more than £1,000 less than renting a boiler, based on a £1,740 installation fee and £183 a year for boiler cover.
Which? tips for getting the best value boiler
The most cost-effective option in the long run is to buy and install a reliable boiler, and then pay for a service each year and any extra repairs that might be needed on an ad hoc basis. If you assume that the boiler will never need to be repaired, this will cost around £3,575 over 12 years (based on an annual service costing £70).
Our research shows that if you get a reliable boiler, a servicing contract tends to be a false economy. The average cost of a boiler repair is currently £188, so you'd need to have a lot of problems with your boiler to justify the extra cost of a servicing contract.
Which? research shows that of the most reliable brand of boilers, three in five will still be working fault-free after six years. To find out which ones, take a look at our boiler reviews.