Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
The ECO scheme means that medium and large gas and electricity suppliers – including British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Ovo, 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, 6.5 million 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 150,000 customers are automatically required to deliver ECO from 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 biggest energy firms all provide ECO support. The following energy suppliers also have enough customers, so are obliged to participate in ECO: , , , , (including Co-operative Energy), (including ), , , , , , and .
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. Some of the most common measures are:
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).
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.
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 September 2020, another 316,569 measures had been installed under the new ECO3 scheme.
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