Energy Company Obligation in England
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) was launched on 1st January 2013 and will see energy companies legally obligated to provide help to low income fuel poor households.
The Government scheme is specifically targeted at society's most vulnerable households and will enable eligible householders to transform the energy efficiency of their homes by installing a new grant funded replacement boiler and loft and cavity wall insulation.
What is the Energy Company Obligation?
Thanks to Government legislation energy companies are required by law to provide assistance to domestic energy consumers to help them become more energy efficient and lower their energy bills. Only energy companies who have a) more than 250,000 domestic customers and b) provide over 2,000 gigawatts of gas or 400 gigawatts of electricity are legally required to take part in the programme.
The ECO will operate in conjunction with the Green Deal, the Government's revolutionary mass home insulation scheme. Administered by energy regulator Ofgem, around £1.3 billion will be spent on supporting low income households in fuel poverty, subsidising energy saving installations every year. The hardest to treat homes – for example those with solid wall insulation – will be a key target of the programme.
There are three different elements to the Energy Company Obligation: Affordable Warmth, Carbon Savings and Carbon Savings Community.
Many vulnerable households and those on a low income can't afford to adequately heat their own homes; the Affordable Warmth Obligation aims to tackle this problem head on.
Energy companies will be tasked with providing qualifying domestic energy customers with a range of measures designed to make their homes warmer and healthier and help to keep energy bills as low as possible. This could include repairing a boiler or replacing an old energy inefficient boiler with a new A-rated energy saving model, upgrading a central heating system, installing cavity wall insulation or loft insulation.
Funding will be provided to tackle the hardest to treat properties, most notably those with solid wall insulation. External wall insulation will be available to qualifying households or internal wall insulation if there are issues as a result of access or planning permission, etc. At least 50% of the external walls will need insulating to be eligible for the ECO.
Carbon savings community
Energy companies have a commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Communities in the most deprived parts of the country – including rural communities, many of which are home to some of the fuel poorest low income households - will be targeted with a range of measures including loft and cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation.
How can the ECO help me?
Provided you qualify (see the ‘Am I eligible’ section) through the ECO you may be able to get an energy efficient new boiler installed, as well as other energy saving home improvement measures such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. The programme is designed to make poorly heated and insulated homes warmer and more energy efficient, enabling some of the country’s most fuel poor households to become more energy efficient by installing energy saving measures which can have a significant impact on lowering energy bills.
Am I eligible?
If you own your own home or live in accommodation which is rented from a private landlord you might be eligible for help from the Energy Company Obligation. But you will need to be in receipt of qualifying benefits to be eligible. And if you live in privately rented accommodation you must have permission from your landlord. Qualifying benefits include:
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (with an income of £15,860 or less)
- Working Tax Credit (with an income of £15,860 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
If you are in receipt of Income Support, Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance or Working Tax Credit extra conditions will also apply, namely:
- You’re 60 years of age or more (this only applies if you have Working Tax Credit)
- You are responsible for a child under 16 years of age (under 20 if they are studying or training)
- You get Disabled Child Premium, Disability Premium or Pensioner Premium
How do I apply?
The Energy Company Obligation is available in England, as well as Scotland and Wales. If you would like more information or would like to check your eligibility you can contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
The Energy Saving Advice Service will assess your eligibility and if you qualify for assistance customers will be put in contact with ECO participating energy suppliers.