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Home grants

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

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Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) could help you get financial support from your energy supplier to make your home more energy efficient.

The ECO scheme means that large gas and electricity suppliers - including British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE - are obliged to help households with energy-efficiency measures. 

These measures help save people money on their energy bills, keep homes warmer and help to reduce carbon emissions.

What is the Energy Company Obligation? 

ECO is the government's umbrella term for its programme to make houses in the UK more energy efficient. This aims to cut carbon emissions and reduce fuel poverty.

As part of ECO, the government estimates that energy efficiency and heating measures worth £640m a year will be delivered across Great Britain.

The first ECO scheme was launched in 2013 and ran until September 2018. Reforms to the ECO scheme from April 2017 simplified the eligibility criteria for certain energy efficient measures, covered more households and was targeted more towards those with low incomes.

The next ECO scheme is currently being debated in parliament and may be in place by the end of November 2018. ECO3 will then run until March 2022 and focus exclusively on supporting lower income customers, those who are considered to be more vulnerable and those living in fuel poverty.

Keep reading to find out which energy suppliers offer ECO, or head straight to find out about the new ECO3 scheme.

Which energy suppliers offer ECO? 

Gas and electricity suppliers with more than 250,000 customers are automatically required to deliver ECO. More energy suppliers will have to join in over the next couple of years, until all suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are involved in 2020.

Each obligated supplier has to contribute to a certain amount of energy-efficient home improvements, based on its market share. You can find ECO support from any obligated supplier, not just the company you buy your energy from. 

You can find ECO support from any obligated supplier, not just the company you buy energy from.

The Big Six energy firms all provide ECO support. The following energy suppliers also have enough customers, so are obliged to participate in ECO at present: Co-operative Energy, Economy Energy, Extra Energy, Flow Energy, First Utility, Ovo, Spark Energy, Utility Warehouse and Utilita.

Energy-efficient measures available through ECO include loft insulation, wall insulation and boiler replacement or repair. 

Find out more about insulation and how it can improve the energy efficiency of your home.

The new ECO3 scheme for 2018 

ECO3 replaces previous schemes (with the same name) from October 2018. It’s aimed at protecting the most fuel-poor households, according to the government.

Since the previous scheme (called ECO2) ended in September 2018, some suppliers stopped offering ECO measures while they were waiting for details of the new scheme. This is because the government said that companies installing measures did so ‘at their own risk’ and that they may not count towards ECO3 targets if they didn’t comply with requirements.

900,000The number of energy-saving improvements the new scheme is planned to deliver

It says the new scheme would make energy-saving improvements to 900,000 homes. Each year up to 35,000 homes with broken heating systems will have them replaced and 17,000 homes with solid walls will be treated.

Suppliers must deliver 15% of their ECO measures to homes in rural areas, and 10% of them can be installing ‘innovative’ products, such as devices to help homeowners manage their energy use.

Free insulation and other ECO energy-efficiency improvements

Under ECO, grants are available to cover all or part of the cost of energy-efficiency measures. The most common measures are: 

It can also be used to pay for homes to be connected to district heating systems, where appropriate.

Installation of loft insulation, solid wall insulation and cavity wall insulation is usually done by a contractor. For loft insulation, you'll probably have to clear your loft first and take up any boards, as this is not normally included (but there are exceptions).

Find out more about installing loft insulation, and how much money it could save you.

It's quite complicated to work out if you're eligible for ECO funding - it depends on what improvements your home needs, where you live, the level of carbon or cost savings made, and if you receive any benefits. If you receive the Warm Home Discount, or certain types of benefits, you’re likely to be eligible.

Your energy supplier should advise you if you're eligible for an ECO grant.

You may also be eligible for help with insulation or installing a gas boiler or heating system if you're a social-housing tenant and in a home with an energy-efficiency rating of E, F or G.

You can find this on your home’s energy performance certificate (EPC), or by asking your landlord or housing association.

2 millionMore energy efficiency measures than this have been installed as part of ECO

Your energy supplier should advise you if you're eligible for an ECO grant - this is also called Affordable Warmth. You can also contact the Energy Saving Trust for more details. 

To benefit from ECO, you must either own your home or have the landlord’s permission. Even if you are eligible, an energy supplier doesn’t have to install an energy-efficient measure in your home.

Between April 2015 and September 2018, more than 800,000 energy-efficiency measures were installed in homes as part of ECO, according to the government. 

If you’re not eligible for help making your home more energy efficient via ECO, read our tips for saving money on your energy bills.

Save money on your energy bills

Make sure you're on the cheapest gas and electricity tariff for you. If you're on a standard or default tariff with one of the Big Six energy companies - and most people are - you can save hundreds of pounds per year by switching to a better deal. 

Use our independent switching site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices and check you're on the cheapest deal.