What is the ECO4 scheme?
The ECO4 scheme is the final part of an ongoing government scheme to support low-income households and to create more energy efficient homes. As of June 2022 it replaced its previous iteration with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of more UK households.
What does ECO mean?
ECO means the Energy Company Obligation, of which there have been four parts.
It is a policy that aims to make homes warmer and households’ emissions lower, as well as making large energy companies accountable for supporting income-restricted households via local authorities. In other words, ECO is all about energy saving.
ECO particularly aims to help vulnerable homes and property holders while being delivered through local authority referrals. It is also subject to primary legislation industrial strategy and uses a whole house approach to lower fuel poverty via improved heating systems.
The primary legislation listing minimum energy efficiency requirements was originally launched in 2013 and has helped over 2.3 million homes. The previous phase of ECO3 scheme version was replaced by the ECO 4 in June2022.
You can familiarise yourself with ECO4 draft impact assessment on the government website. The document includes proposed changes, scoring methodology and minimum requirements to allow local authority referrals (through LA Flex – Flexible Eligibility) and private energy efficiency installers to implement the next phase of the ECO4 consultation.
ECO4 scheme eligibility check – It only takes 2 minutes and no commitment
Who is eligible for ECO4 scheme?
The energy efficiency measures available through ECO4 scheme consultation are given via eligibility criteria. If you are on qualifying benefits, and you’re a homeowner or a private tenant, you are likely to be eligible for support from energy suppliers via this scheme from April 2022.
If you’re a landlord and your tenant claims benefits, you may encourage them to apply for the grant, thus improving your property energy efficiency for years to come by installing electric storage heaters or fulfilling insulation grants such as free cavity wall insulation or loft insulation grant.
If you’re not on benefits, but your home is still energy inefficient, you might be eligible for the scheme through flexible eligibility (LAFlex) program that some councils participate in.
What benefits qualify for ECO4?
The minimum requirement benefits that qualify for the ECO4 fund are different to those of the past. This is an attempt to fulfil the carbon saving obligation of energy suppliers by providing support and grants to low income and vulnerable homes through energy efficiency installers.
Included in the Company Obligation ECO 4 2002 are:
ECO 4 scheme qualifying benefits
Child Tax Credits (CTC)
Child Benefits – depends on income threshold* (see thresholds)
Income based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
Income related Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
Income Support (IS)
Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
Universal Credit (UC)
Warm Home Discount Scheme Rebate
Working Tax Credit (WTC)
Newly added with ECO4’s roll out are
Pension Credit Saving Credit
ECO4 is available to:
Homeowners or Private Tenants
Individuals who get income-related benefits
Properties with inefficient electric heating
What benefits no longer meet the eligibility criteria?
Benefits (mostly disability benefits) no longer included in the energy company obligation ECO 4 criteria after being eligible under ECO3 include:
Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
Constant Attendance Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Severe Disablement Allowance
War Pensions Mobility Supplement (WPMS)
THE MAIN CHANGES IN ENERGY COMPANY OBLIGATION ECO4 2022:
ECO3 scheme came to an end in March 2022, just as the fourth version of the scheme begins.
The Department for Business Energy has put into place minimum energy efficiency requirements for this new version of Energy Company Obligation ECO Scheme.
If a property falls under band F or G for energy efficiency, the grants must be used by energy efficiency installers to heighten it to band D or higher. This is an attempt to tackle climate change and support fuel poor households.
The new minimum energy efficiency EPC band aims to help vulnerable individuals to warm their homes by providing free grants for low income families. If any member of the household claims certain benefits and meet other required criteria, a surveyor will be sent to assess the premises and establish which measures can be installed improve the EPC. Homes that are upgraded should then be provided with an energy performance certificate.
An opportunity for people to submit grant funding views start from June 2022. Find out more about what grants are available for vulnerable households.
Energy company obligation ECO4 2022 scheme explained
Unlike the predecessors of this ECO program, ECO 4 grant is intended to be accessible to a wider range of people and more fuel poor households. This next phase of the energy company obligation ECO improved its energy efficiency measures and scoring methodology to ensure the least energy efficient homes and properties of vulnerable and fuel poor homeowners are reached first and receive greater support.
These proposed changes begun in April 2022 and should operate for years to improve energy efficient heaters in people’s homes across England, Scotland and Wales.
There are many routes to apply for this grant. For example, checking your eligibility for the government grant through companies who work with energy suppliers and Ofgem such as UK Energy Support (UKES).
You can check ECO4 criteria for the grant below.
The government has stated that they are committed to supporting energy suppliers in reaching rural communities and fuel poor homes and communities in having better quality heating in their properties. Energy companies now aim to enable small suppliers to combat climate change through increasing the number of energy efficient homes and minimizing fuel poverty across the country.
How is the ECO 4 scheme different from ECO3
The EOC4 and ECO3 schemes are similar in principles, but there are some significant improvements to the ECO 4 scheme implementation, mostly through scoring methodology and other grant funding views.
Take the first step to find out if you’re eligible for ECO4 energy efficient homes fund.
The ECO 3 scheme is one of the versions of the Energy Company Obligation ECO scheme from the government, which ran from 2018 to 2022.
While there have been many benefits to such grants that target low income households, and it is primarily considered a success, some complaints have been registered by homeowners and local authorities; these are aimed to be changed with the ECO4 consultation.
This version of the scheme focused on turning the least energy efficient homes into safe and warm houses to lower fuel poverty, much as the new iteration will, only on a larger scale.
During ECO3, it is believed that the cap of 35,000 homes may have allowed vulnerable and fuel poor individuals to fall through the gaps when they could benefit from the ECO funds.
The ECO4 fund aims to provide a larger range of funding for vulnerable households to improve the efficiency and heating of their home. With inflation taken into account, there will be £640 million available to target support to those in the largest need.
It also took four weeks to receive a consultation during this form of the scheme, whereas the newer form intends of having an assessment done within a week of the eligibility check.
The UK government’s ECO scheme could provide you with a boiler grant
As part of the UK government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO), if you receive a qualifying benefit and your boiler is 10+ years old, you may be entitled to grant funding towards a brand new A-rated boiler.
The free boiler grants are funded by UK energy companies and don’t need to be repaid.