There are various support schemes available for energy efficiency and domestic generation of heat and power which your constituents may be able to access. These are shown below with some links to further advice.
Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
The ECO scheme involves obligated energy suppliers installing energy efficiency measures such as insulation and boiler replacement or repair in eligible homes (those of low income and vulnerable households). The scheme is paid for by a levy on all consumers bills though recipients may need to contribute to the cost of their installation which may not be fully covered by their energy supplier. Further information is available from Ofgem (the energy regulator).
Details on eligibility are available on the Gov.uk webpage Help from your energy supplier: the Affordable Warmth Obligation. Constituents who are interested in ECO may wish to contact their (or any other obligated) energy supplier to ask whether they would be eligible for support, and what may be available to them, under the scheme. Please note that it is for obligated suppliers to decide where to provide assistance, and permission from the owner is required to have such work done.
Local authorities are also able to refer fuel poor and vulnerable residents in their areas to obligated energy suppliers so that they can be offered support under the scheme.
The Green Deal was an energy saving loan scheme launched by the coalition Government to incentivise and help fund energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies for homes. Loans were offered for home efficiency improvements that were paid back over time with interest through energy bills. The Green Deal Finance Company was publicly funded to provide Green Deal loans. The Government stopped funding the Green Deal in 2015 citing low uptake.
In 2017, the Green Deal was relaunched privately as The Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) after it was acquired from the Government. Loans are now available through Green Deal providers under the same format as the original UK Government scheme but without public funding. Note the Green Deal provides loans not grants. Further information about how the scheme works and how to apply can be found on the GDFC FAQs webpage.
Domestic heat and power
Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
The RHI is a Government scheme to support households and businesses to generate renewable heat for their buildings. The domestic RHI does not provide upfront grants and instead provides quarterly payments after the installation of certain renewable heat generation systems (such as biomass boilers, solar water heating, heat pumps) for a contract period of 7 years. There is information on the domestic scheme from the Government webpage, Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), and from the energy regulator Ofgem. (There is also a non-domestic scheme: for information on this scheme see Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Ofgem website).
Please note that only home owners or landlords can apply for payments under the scheme.
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
The SEG, scheduled to begin in January 2020, is a new scheme to support small scale renewable power generation following the closure of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme in March 2019. Similarly to the RHI, the scheme does not offer upfront payments but constituents installing renewable power technologies will be paid by their energy supplier for each unit of electricity they sell to the grid (i.e the excess to their domestic consumption).
Technologies supported include solar PV, wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion and can be up to 5MW in capacity. All suppliers with more than 150,000 domestic customers must offer a tariff but can choose their own rates as long as they offer generators more than £0 per unit of metered exported power. Further information is available in the Library briefing paper on Changes to support for small scale renewables and on Ofgem’s webpage, About the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
Help with rectifying problems
Ofgem’s FAQs for domestic consumers and landlords suggests steps that consumers with installation problems may take: establishing when the measure was installed; contacting the installer; finding guarantees and warranties; contacting the relevant oversight body and/or energy company. This advice also applies to installations made under previous schemes.
TrustMark is a Government endorsed quality scheme covering work done on homes. The Government have consulted on applying the TrustMark scheme to ECO measures in order to reduce poor-quality installations and improve consumer protection; at the time of publishing it has not yet published the outcome.
Green Deal installations
The Government’s Complain about the Green Deal webpage advises customers to contact their Green Deal provider if they have a complaint about the provider, a Green Deal assessment, or a heating or insulation installation, and to contact Ombudsman Services if the complaint has not been resolved within 8 weeks.
Green Deal providers must be authorised by the Green Deal Oversight and Registration Body and be part of the Ombudsman Services scheme and obey a Green Deal Code of practice. Constituents who are concerned by their finance plan can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FSO) if they cannot resolve their issue with the provider.
The Government has also said that under certain circumstances, where a consumer is not satisfied with the decision of the relevant Ombudsman, cases may be referred to the Secretary of State, who may impose reduction or cancellation of Green Deal plans (see PQ 120837).
RHI and FIT installations
Constituents with issues under these schemes should also contact the installer, and if unsuccessful, the installer’s certification body or consumer code. Both RHI and FIT require the renewable energy technology product and the installer to be certified to the standards of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS – a third party certification scheme) which provides consumer protections and also has more information about complaining on its website.
Further help and information
- Ofgem has information for energy consumers and on the various government energy and social schemes.
- Constituents may contact the Energy Saving Trust (an independent, non-profit organisation) which offers advice on energy issues.
- Citizens Advice (a network of independent charities) may also be able to offer advice.
- Constituents may also contact their local authorities to see if there are any local grants that they can access.
- The Library briefing paper, Help with energy bills (April 2018) contains information on energy efficiency schemes and energy bill financial assistance available for certain eligible customers.
- The Library briefing paper, Changes to support for small scale renewables (July 2019) contains details of previous support generators under feed-in tariffs, and the new policy.
- The Library has briefing papers, Q&A: Solar panels (March 2019) and Q&A: Cavity Wall Insulation (January 2019) which provides further information for constituents with these types of installations.
- For information on consumer rights and legal help in general, constituents may find the following Library briefing papers useful: Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CBP 6588); Legal help: where to go and how to pay (SN03207).