Fuel Poverty and Home Energy Saving
Improving home energy efficiency can help you to:
- save money
- enjoy a warmer home
- reduce your impact on the environment
This can be, for instance, through improving your home insulation, through a more efficient heating system or through following some energy-saving tips.
There is a wide range of general advice on the Energy Saving Trust’s website [external link]. More specific energy advice can be obtained from the Simple Energy Advice website [external link] or by telephoning them on 0800 444 202.
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, there are a number of things that can help, such as, government schemes and switching supplier.
You may also be eligible for discounts if you’re an older person or have a low income.
Your benefits will not be affected by these schemes if you are already claiming.
Information on heating-related benefits is available on GOV.UK [external link] and keeping warm in winter is available on the keep warm, keep well section on the NHS website [external link]
There are a number of energy schemes you may be able to apply for
Warm Home Discount
You might qualify for a £140 discount on your electricity bill in winter if you either:
- have a low income
- receive the guarantee element of pension credit
- claim certain other benefits
Find out how to apply on GOV.UK [external link]
You can also call the scheme's helpline on 0800 731 0214 for more information.
Winter fuel payment
The winter fuel payment is a grant of £100 to £300 to help older people with energy bills in winter.
How much you get depends on your age, if you receive certain benefits and if you live alone or with others.
To qualify for the payment, you must have been born on or before 5 November 1953.
Visit GOV.UK to find out if you qualify [external link].
Switch energy supplier
You could save on your gas and electricity bills each year by changing your supplier. If you are private tenant, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to switch unless they pay your energy bills – but it’s always best to let them know. There are a number of different price comparison sites you can use to see who offer the best rate. These include:
Find out more information from Ofgem [external link] about switching energy supplier.
You might be able to get help to make your home more energy efficient too.
Warm Homes Fund
If you do not have central heating installed in your home, you may be eligible for free central heating installation as part of the Tees Valley Warm Homes Funds.
Councils across the Tees Valley, led by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, have secured nearly £6.1 million from a national fund. It’s invaluable support to households who do not already have central heating and may be struggling to afford to stay warm.
The scheme is expected to run until December 2021 but operates on a first-come, first-served basis and will close to new applications once all the funds have been allocated.
You can find out how to apply on the Stockton Council website [external link].
Green Homes Grant
Make your home warmer and your energy bills cheaper with a Green Homes Grant.
Make sure you’re one of the 600,000 households who could save up to £600 a year on energy bills by applying today. Installing energy efficient home improvements also cuts emissions, which is better for the environment.
The government will provide a voucher that covers up to two thirds of the cost of qualifying improvements to your home. The maximum value of the voucher is £5,000. You may be able to receive a higher level of subsidy if you are a homeowner and either you or a member of your household receives one of the qualifying benefits, covering 100% of the cost of the improvements.
The maximum value of this voucher is £10,000. Landlords cannot apply for the low-income part of the scheme. More information can be found on the Simple Energy Advice website [external link].
The scheme is expected to run until March 2022. More information is on the Green Homes Grant website [external link].
Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme aims to help residents who are living in fuel poverty, on low income, and vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home.
It is a government energy efficiency scheme to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty, it is led by the private sector, not the council. More information can be found on the Simple Energy Advice website [external link].
In addition to this, there is a degree of flexibility which allows Local Authorities to refer households to suppliers for support, by using a new 'flexible eligibility' mechanism (ECO Flex). This is referred to as the Help to Heat Flexible Eligibility Criteria.
We have set our own criteria, aimed at those who are most likely to be in fuel poverty with occupants on low incomes and vulnerable to the effects of cold homes, and who otherwise would not be eligible. Properties must be owner-occupied or privately rented.
Energy companies can deliver up to 25% of their full obligation within these criteria. We will work with energy companies and their authorised installers to maximise the use of flexible eligibility.
It must be noted however, that fitting within the Statement of Intent does not guarantee that any individual household will benefit from energy saving improvements as the final decision will rest with the individual private sector suppliers and this will depend on:
- The survey carried out by the energy company or their authorised installer and installation costs calculated;
- The energy savings that can be achieved for a property; and
- Whether energy companies have achieved their ECO targets or require further measures to meet their ECO targets.
The measures deliverable through ECO Flex are as follows:
- cavity wall insulation
- loft insulation
- inefficient heating replacements
- solid wall insulation
Not all boilers or insulation measures are free of charge, and we recommend getting quotes from more than one company.
In order to access this funding, local authorities are obliged to publish a ‘Statement of Intent’.
The Darlington Flexible Eligibility - Statement of Intent ECOFLEX, update in March 2019, is available to download and view below:
Darlington Flexible Eligibility - Statement of Intent [pdf document].
We also have a separate ECO3 Help to Heat Flexibility Eligibility Statement of Eligibility [pdf document], agreed jointly by the five Tees Valley local authorities, for the specific purpose of delivering the Warm Homes Fund programme.