Government schemes

Government schemes

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

The ECO is a scheme run by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and administered by Ofgem. Legislation places an obligation on the larger energy suppliers to help householders save on their energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions, including those in fuel poverty. The energy companies are given a target to save a specified amount of carbon or heat over a period of time by helping their customers to install energy efficiency measures such as insulation, often at highly subsidised rates.

To find out more you can contact MIMA’s members, or call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

For more information see Ofgem’s website.

Green Deal

The Green Deal was a Government-led scheme which financed energy efficiency improvements to people’s homes, including insulation, highly energy efficient windows and better boilers. Installing such measures means less energy is needed to heat homes and energy bills are lower as a result. The idea was that the financial saving could be estimated in advance, and that saving used to pay for the installation work. The scheme was closed in 2015, but the Government has indicated it will announce plans for a replacement scheme in the near future.

Regulation of Energy Efficiency in Private Rented Properties

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 came into force in 2016. The goal is to drive energy efficiency improvements in private rented properties by setting minimum standards.

The provisions will be implemented in three stages. From April 2016, residential private landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent to a tenant’s request for energy efficiency improvements where subsidies are available to pay for them (or finance from the Green Deal replacement). Second, from April 2018, private domestic and commercial landlords will need to ensure that their properties reach at least an EPC rating of E before granting a tenancy. Or they must install all the improvements that are possible with government-supported finance or subsidies available to pay for them. Third, these minimum requirements will apply to all private rented properties – including occupied properties – from April 2020 in the domestic sector, and from April 2023 in the non-domestic sector.

For more information see the Explanatory Memorandum on the regulations

The Zero Carbon Standard for new homes

The Government has steadily ramped up energy efficiency standards for new homes being constructed since 2000. The last update to Building Regulations happened in 2013 (which came into force in 2014). That update set more stringent limits for how much carbon can be emitted from the use of energy in new homes, and also set a new minimum standard for the performance of the fabric of the building. The result is that the walls, lofts, roofs and floors of new homes must now be very well insulated to avoid wasting heat. The standards were due to updated again in 2016 to make new homes close to “zero carbon”, however this policy is now under review. European standards requiring new buildings to be “nearly zero energy” are still expected to come into force between 2019 and 2021.

For historical information on the proposed Zero Carbon Standard see the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website

Energy efficiency requirements for renewable heating and energy schemes

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a Government scheme which encourages householders and businesses to install renewable heat technologies such as heat pumps. It is the first of its kind and will contribute towards the 2020 ambition of 12% of heating coming from renewable sources. DECC is currently consulting on proposed changes to the scheme.

In addition, the Government’s Feed-in Tariffs scheme (FiTs) also provides financial incentives to encourage the uptake of small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies such as solar PV. Under FITs, you may be paid for the electricity generated if you install an eligible system.

Importantly, both schemes set minimum energy efficiency requirements, for example to make sure the property is well insulated, before renewable technologies are installed. Again, this helps to ensure the clean energy generated is not wasted through leaky walls.

For more information on both schemes see the Energy Saving Trust’s website