Households can get help with:
- interest-free loans managed by Calderdale Credit Union, for insulation for stone properties and attics
- interest-free loans managed by Calderdale Credit Union, for efficient heating systems
- free energy saving gadgets from Calderdale Council’s HandyPerson Service (as well as stair rails and key safes)
- the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which is free installation of improved heating and insulation from the big six energy companies
To apply for a free hand or grab rail, please contact the Council’s HandyPerson Service on 01422 392422 or email all the details to email@example.com
To apply for help with insulating solid stone walls and/or attics; heating systems or free energy saving gadgets, call the Council’s Housing Energy Action Team on 0845 245 6000, or email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Energy Company Obligation – free heating and insulation from the big six energy companies
You may be eligible for Energy Company Obligation (ECO) help to make your home warmer. The ECO requires the big six energy companies to help some customers make their homes warmer and more energy efficient, by installing free insulation and heating in their homes. The energy company will determine how much subsidy they provide to each customer they help.
To find out about eligibility and how to access the ECO, you can phone the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 for free and impartial information.
There are three types of ECO, all offering help with improved home heating or insulation.
Affordable Warmth Obligation for vulnerable private tenants on low incomes
If you receive some specific means-tested benefits and are a tenant in a privately-owned house (not in social housing), you may be eligible for free heating and insulation improvements through the Affordable Warmth Obligation. This is for people on a low income who are vulnerable to the impact of living in cold homes, including the elderly, disabled and families.
Carbon Saving Obligation for solid wall and hard-to-treat cavity wall insulation
The Carbon Saving Obligation is not means-tested. It can be used together with a Green Deal loan to help cover the costs of insulation for solid-walled properties (internal and external wall insulation) and those with ‘hard-to-treat’ cavity walls, that is too expensive to be funded through a Green Deal loan.
Carbon Saving Community Obligation (CSCO)
This is for people who live in Rural and Low Income Areas and who need to make their homes more energy efficient so that they can stop living in fuel poverty. If you live in a rural area, defined as a settlement of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, your household may be eligible for a grant if you are on a low income and in receipt of one of qualifying benefits.
In the Upper Calder Valley, people on low incomes and one of the qualifying benefits who live in the Low Income Areas of Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden wards are eligible for CSCO help to make their homes more energy efficient. This applies whether people are tenants or homeowners.
Pensioners and people classed as vulnerable customers may qualify for a discount on gas and electricity bills during the winter months, including the Warm Home Discount (WHD) Scheme. (This is different from the Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners.)
The WHD Scheme gives a rebate to pensioners on low incomes and to some other customers on low incomes. The rebate was £120 in winter 2011-12 and will be £130 each winter from now on until 2014/15.
Which energy companies are offering the WHD?
The participating energy companies that are offering rebates to qualifying pensioners are:
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- M&S Energy
- Sainsbury’s Energy
- Scottish Gas
- Scottish Hydro
- Southern Electric
- Utility Warehouse
Only some energy companies are offering WHD to “vulnerable” customers, according to their own companies’ criteria:
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- Scottish Hydro
- Southern Electric
Who’s eligible for WHD?
Pensioners getting only the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit from 11 September 2011 onwards are entitled to the Warm Home discount. (This is the payment to bring income up to a set minimum national level.)
If you get the savings credit part of Pension Credit, you will not currently qualify. Savings credit is for people who have made some savings or provision towards their retirement.
If you are on a low income, it will be up to your supplier to decide whether you can get the Warm Home Discount. You may be eligible if you’re on a low income and you have a disability or long-term illness, or a child or children aged under five, but the specific criteria depend on which electricity supplier you are with.
If you’re eligible, the discount will come via your electicity bill or meter, if you’re on a pre-payment meter.
How to claim a Warm Home Discount
If you are a pensioner eligible for the Warm Home Discount, the Department for Work and Pensions will try to make sure you get this discount automatically. If you are missed out, you can ask for the discount directly from your supplier.
If you are on a low income, you will need to contact your energy supplier for details of whether you are eligible. If you believe you are eligible, you will then need to apply directly to your supplier. The various energy companies’ schemes are mostly open now for 2012/13.
Not all energy companies are participating in the Warm Home Discount – mostly only the biggest ones.
Not all eligible customers will receive WHD – energy companies have capped the number of discounts they’ll give
Different suppliers have different criteria for who’s eligible. Apart from British Gas, which has committed to paying the WHD to all eligible customers, the energy companies have capped the number of “vulnerable” low income customers they will give the discount to. So even if you qualify, you may not receive the discount, if your energy supplier has reached its cap.
The WHD will provide £120 (rising to £130) a year to 2.5 million homes – but around 6.4 million homes are currently in fuel poverty, according to the Energy Saving Trust, so most of these households will not get the WHD.
If you’re on a social tariff
If you already qualify for your supplier’s social tariff, your energy supplier will probably have contacted you to tell you that the tariff is being phased out. You may be offered a Warm Home Discount instead.
However, some customers who now qualify for a social tariff may not qualify for help under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Some customers will find that the discount under the new WHD scheme is less than the social tariff discount they’ve been getting. For example, a customer posting on the moneysaving expert website has worked out that they’d be £300 a year worse off with the WHD than they were with their energy company’s social tariff.
Citizen’s Advice recommends that if you are in this situation, it’s best to contact your supplier to find out if any extra help is available to make up for this shortfall.
Where to go for home energy advice and info
The Home Heat Helpline is for “vulnerable” customers struggling to pay their bills. It is funded by the energy suppliers, and provides information on grants, payment schemes and benefits that may be available as well as basic advice about energy efficiency. Telephone: 0800 336699 (freephone)
The Energy Saving Trust has a free Energy Saving Advice Service.
Is the WHD the best way of tackling fuel poverty and increasing home energy efficiency?
Ecotricity, a small energy company that invests heavily in building new renewable energy generation, says that the WHD fails to address one of the root causes of fuel poverty – rising energy prices.
Instead, a better use of the £1.1 billion Warm Homes Discount budget would be to build new windmills, which would power 2.4 million homes for 25 years with energy that’s insulated from the rising prices associated with fossil-fuel energy.
Ecotricity points out that, with rising energy prices, each year the WHD buys less electricity. And the payment does nothing to increase energy efficiency or reduce carbon emissions and climate change.