Free Boiler Grants: How They Work and Who Qualifies (2021 Update)

1,000s of people in the UK are eligible for free boiler grants, repairs, or a subsidised boiler installation.

Below we’ll cover the different types of funding available for boiler grants in the UK, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

The ECO and HHCRO Schemes Explained

The UK’s ‘Boiler Grant Scheme’, aka the ‘Free Boiler Scheme’, is formally known as the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO) and forms the basis of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Semantics aside, ECO3 and the HHCRO are essentially part of the same programme.

Dating back to 2013, ECO’s primary objective has been to slash carbon emissions and reduce fuel poverty across the UK. Since the programme’s most recent update in 2018 (which changed its name to ECO3), it’s been centred around the HHCRO, which provides free boiler and insulation grants to help low-income and vulnerable households heat their homes.

To this end, HHCRO compels medium and large energy suppliers to promote various measures that can help reduce energy costs. These measures include boiler replacement and repairs, and insulation of various parts of the building envelope. Below is a list of all participants in ECO, although some aren’t party to boiler replacement grants or repairs:

  • British Gas
  • E.ON Energy
  • Npower
  • EDF Energy
  • Scottish and Southern Energy
  • Scottish Power
  • First Utility
  • The Co-operative Energy
  • Utilita
  • OVO
  • The Utility Warehouse
  • Economy Energy
  • Bulb
  • Green Star

The list is subject to change and can be found on Ofgem’s website.

ECO3, and its central HHCRO programme, are set to expire on March 31st, 2022, at which point a new iteration will come into effect. To date, there’s been no indication of how this replacement programme will operate.

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Who Qualifies For A New Boiler?

HHCRO boiler grants are typically available for:

  • Privately rented properties (you’ll need the landlord’s permission to have work completed)
  • Owner-occupied properties.

Generally, HHCRO boiler grants aren’t available for social housing tenants. However, those living in social housing with an EPC rating of E, F or G, could qualify (check the GOV.UK site here).

Qualifying for a free boiler under the ECO3/HHCRO scheme isn’t easy. That said, the list below gives a breakdown of the accepted benefits that could make you eligible for a boiler grant under the programme:

  • Working Tax, Universal or Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Job Seeker’s, Employment and Support, Disability Living, Severe Disablement, Attendance, Constant Attendance or Carer’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement
  • Armed Forces Independence or (PIP) Personal Independence Payment
  • War Pensions Mobility Supplement

Apart from the credits above, there are some additional criteria applicants must satisfy to be eligible for a boiler grant: 

  • The total household income must not exceed a specified amount. This threshold varies depending on the number of children and adults in the household and the applicants’ benefits. 
  • The upgrade must produce enough savings to justify the grant. This means that smaller properties (which are easier to heat than large homes) might not qualify simply because they won’t see significant energy savings.

Keep in mind that these qualification criteria are subject to change. So, it’s always best to check the GOV.UK website for the full and up to date list.

Which Boilers Are Eligible For Replacement?

While the criteria above pertain to the applicants and their properties, the condition of the existing boiler destined for replacement also plays a role in the eligibility equation. That’s because swapping one new, efficient boiler for another won’t generate the desired energy savings — or reduce CO2 emissions.

To this end, ECO3/HHCRO uses the following criteria — on an individual basis — to decide which boilers are eligible for a replacement under the grant:

  • The boiler’s age
  • The efficiency of the boiler
  • Whether the boiler is in good working condition

Boiler Grants For Pensioners

If you want to learn more on how to get a free boiler grant as a pensioner, you can check out our detailed guide here.

However, as a pensioner, you can also save on energy by taking advantage of the schemes below:

  • Warm Home Discount
  • Cold Weather Payment

Boiler Grants For The Disabled

The only grant meant specifically for the disabled that could entitle the beneficiary to a free boiler is the Disabled Facilities Grant. However, remember that you can still check the criteria for the ECO3/HHCRO grants mentioned above.

This grant scheme isn’t specifically for boilers. Instead, it’s designed to make a property suitable for living, which includes providing a heating system that is suitable for your needs.

To apply for a free boiler grant, or an upgrade to your existing heating system visit the GOV.UK application page here.

Boiler Grants For Landlords

Believe it or not, there are free boiler grants available for landlords.

With these, the qualifying criteria are based on the tenant, and not the landlord. So, if a tenant was to qualify based on income and the receipt of benefits, it could mean a free boiler installation, or at the very least, access to boiler grants for repairs and upgrades.

You’ll need to speak to your tenant and visit this page here, to see if they qualify.

Boiler Grants For Charities

It’s a little thin on the ground when it comes to boiler grants for charities, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any options.

Currently, the best option available is the Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme, or the Energy Redress Scheme.

What’s The Energy Redress Scheme?

Rules get broken.

When the rules around the ECO Government scheme are broken? Large companies get fined.

The Energy Saving Trust has been appointed by OFGEM to distribute the funds from these fines efficiently, via Red Ress.

If you run a charity that doesn’t have close links to an energy company, your charity may be eligible for a boiler grant.

You can find more about Energy Red Ress and your charity’s chance of getting a free boiler grant here.

I Don’t Qualify For A Free Boiler Grant, Now What?

As we’ve mentioned, only a small percentage of the population can actually qualify for a free boiler grant. If that’s you, we suggest you make the most out of it.

For everyone else, there’s never a good time to replace a boiler; it’s a large upfront cost. For that reason, you should do as much research as possible; you’d be surprised at how much money you could save by shopping around. Check the new boiler deals.

We’d suggest doing two things, and in both scenarios, financing will be available (usually from around £12-17 per month).

Get A Fixed Price Online

First, we’d go to Heatable. They’re a company focusing on technology rather than salespeople, meaning installations on Worcester boilers here are usually the cheapest, when compared to other quotes online, as well as lots of local installers.

Due to the nature of their relationship, you’ll also get things like boiler filters, smart controls and a long warranty.

Heatable new boilers

Get a Quote From Local Installers

While Heatable offers the fastest (and often the cheapest) way to get a new boiler, don’t discount your local installers. You can jump here, book in up to 3 quotes, and compare them back-to-back with the Heatable quote you got above.

A few things worth asking include:

  • How long is the warranty on your new boiler (we’d suggest 5 years or more, while Heatable offers up to 10 on Worcester boilers)
  • Whether they’ll hot flush the system (this protects your new boiler)
  • If smart (or at least new) controls are included in the price.

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our guide to boiler grants.

Got questions about the ECO3 scheme, or anything else on this page? Managed to obtain a boiler grant and want to share your experience?

Drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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