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1 October 2020

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.
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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. 

Energy efficiency measures available through ECO include loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation and boiler replacement or repair. They're all designed to 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. The latest iteration of the scheme is focused solely on targeting energy efficiency measures in lower income and more vulnerable households.

The current scheme, called ECO3, was launched in December 2018. It runs until 31 March 2022 and is focused exclusively on those customers with lower incomes who are considered to be in vulnerable situations or living in fuel poverty. A wide range of benefits qualify recipients for ECO3.

In total, 6.5m households are eligible. The scheme’s plan is to 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.

ECO3 replaced previous schemes (with the same name) which ran for five years until December 2018.

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.

Which energy suppliers offer ECO?

Gas and electricity suppliers with more than 200,000 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. 

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: Avro Energy, Bristol Energy, Bulb Energy, Co-operative Energy (including Flow Energy and GB Energy), E, Green Network Energy, Green Star Energy, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy (including Boost and Spark Energy), Robin Hood Energy (including all sub-brands), Shell Energy, Utility Warehouse and Utilita.


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, or for heating controls to be installed.

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.

Can I get ECO funding?

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. The ECO3 scheme, unlike previous schemes, includes those receiving Child Benefit and disability benefits.

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.

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 or Home Energy Scotland

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. By August 2019, another 75,000 measures had been installed under the new ECO3 scheme.

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.

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