Recent governments have drastically reduced the number of grants available to assist in making energy saving improvements to most people’s homes. At the time of writing (September 2018) a number of unresolved policy issues exist in this area, especially in relation to solar electricity generation, and authoritative advice is hard to get. Many advice websites still refer to the now defunct Green Deal scheme. This was scrapped in 2015. New applications for Green Deal loans are no longer accepted. No replacement for it exists.
Below we offer some suggestions, but it will be essential to check the current state of play with relevant authorities or providers.
Smart export guarantee
Feed In Tariff (FIT) payments for generating electricity, which have supported the growth of domestic solar generation in recent years, were abolished on 31 March 2019. In June 2019 the government announced a scheme for ensuring that surplus electricity generated from domestic and other small scale renewable sources would be paid for when fed into the national grid. Information on prices available from various commercial energy suppliers, and on matters relating to installation of solar panels can be found at the Solar Trade Association web site.
Energy Company Obligations (ECO)
There are still some grants available towards the cost of making your home more energy efficient; for example, towards the cost of a new boiler, heating system, or insulation. These grants are provided through the Energy Company Obligation, a government regulation that requires energy suppliers to assist low income customers with energy efficiency measures. Eligible households can get grants through the ECO scheme to cover the cost of cavity wall or loft insulation, and towards other improvements like new boilers under the ‘Help to Heat’ scheme.
Other households may also be entitled to support with the cost of cavity or solid wall insulation (including “hard-to-treat” cavity walls), and loft insulation.
Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
The RHI for ‘domestic’ premises was launched in March 2014 to encourage the uptake of renewable heat technologies, such as solar thermal systems, air source heat pumps, biomass (wood burning) boilers and ground source heat pumps (see: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-rhi). It pays a return for investing in renewable heat and hot water systems.
The RHI scheme is most attractive if heating systems are being replaced, or if expensive fuel, such as oil is currently used. In Muswell Hill solar thermal is likely to be the most suitable heat technology. All systems have to be certified by the microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) and must meet all the required standards. Applicants to the scheme will have to show that they have a current EPC for their property, and have installed loft and cavity wall insulation where possible.
Note that ‘district heating’ systems, such as communal heating in apartment blocks are under the ‘nondomestic’ RHI scheme, which is already in place but is significantly different.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All these schemes rely on an initial assessment of the energy efficiency of the home, and in particular an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An example of an EPC is in the Energy and Comfort pages.
EPCs are required for all homes bought, sold or rented in the UK and they contain valuable information on options to make properties more energy efficient. EPCs are also part of grant assessment processes. An EPC contains assessments of walls, roof, floors, windows, lighting and heating and hot water, with overall ratings for current and potential energy efficiency. The ratings range from A (Very Efficient) to G (Inefficient), with indicative costs and savings for the measures that would improve the score (see: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/energy-performance-certificates).