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Fuel poverty and home energy saving

For help and guidance about energy costs for business visit Invest in Darlington - Cost of living business support [external link].

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

Energy-saving improvements

Grants are available to help with installation costs

  • Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme
  • The Great British Insulation Scheme
  • Boiler Upgrade Scheme
  • Home Upgrade Grant (HUG)

Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme

The scheme aims to help residents who are:

  • living in fuel poverty
  • on low income
  • vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home

ECO is a government scheme run by energy companies, not the council, to help improve the energy performance of homes occupied by vulnerable, low income households.

ECO is not a grant scheme and as such, different companies or installers may provide different levels or types of support towards the installation of energy efficiency or heating measures.

Households need to receive one or more of the following benefits to qualify:

  • Income based Jobseekers allowance.
  • Income related Employment & Support Allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit and / or Savings Credit)
  • Child Benefit (subject to an Income Cap)
  • Housing Benefit.
  • Working Tax Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit.

If you receive one of the above ECO qualifying benefits, you can find out what scheme your energy provider may offer on the Ofgem website [external link].

It is up to the energy companies to determine which retrofit projects they choose to fund, the level of funding they provide, and the retrofit coordinator or installers they choose to work with.

Suppliers will carry out an assessment to decide which measures a property should receive.

A property may also need multiple measures due to Minimum Requirements of improvement.

The level of funding will depend on the measures type and a number of other factors. In some cases, you may be asked to contribute to the cost of the installation.

If you are asked to contribute to the cost of the installation, we encourage you to ‘shop around’ for the best deal to ensure you are satisfied with any offer made.

The Great British Insulation Scheme

The Great British Insulation Scheme is a new government energy efficiency scheme (formerly known as ECO+) that will be administered by Ofgem.

It is designed to deliver improvements to the least energy-efficient homes in Great Britain to tackle fuel poverty and help reduce energy bills.

Unlike ECO4’s ‘whole house’ approach, this scheme will mostly deliver single insulation measures.

As well as supporting low-income and vulnerable households, it will also be available to those living in homes with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D-G, and within Council Tax bands A-D.

The scheme will work by placing an obligation on medium and large energy companies to deliver measures that result in reduced energy usage. It is intended to run until March 2026.

ECO Flex

ECO Flex is an extension of the ECO scheme, but the criteria for who qualifies for help are wider than the normal scheme.

If you do not receive any of the above benefits but are living in an energy inefficient property and are on a low income you may be able to get help via the councils Eco Flex Scheme.

The Councils Statement of Intent (SOI) for ECO Flex has been published in accordance with BEIS/OFGEM guidance .

The SOI below only relates to and validates applications from 1 September 2023.

Previous versions:

The administration charge levied by Darlington Council in providing the declaration necessary for clients to access the ECO Flexible Eligibility Scheme is £50. This charge must be paid by the energy supplier or their agent and may NOT under any circumstances, be passed on to the client receiving assistance via the scheme.

If you would like further information on this scheme please contact [email protected]

Home Upgrade Grant (HUG)

We have been awarded over £6 million in funding from the Government’s Home Upgrade Grant (HUG). This is to help homes that don’t have gas central heating installed and are heated by other means such as electricity, oil, LPG or other fossil fuels.
HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Tees-Valley), along with HUG, are offering help and assistance with funding, with an average of £18,000 per household for properties that don’t have gas central heating. The energy efficiency measures include
  • insulation
  • upgrading windows from single to double glazing
  • installing new heating and renewable technologies such air source heat pumps and solar panels
All FREE for qualifying residents.
Your home must have an Energy Performance of D, E, F or G
Some households will automatically qualify. You can still apply if your household gross income is less than £31,000, or you are in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:
  • Universal Credit
  • Working and Child Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Carers Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee
You can register your interest online at HEET – Register Your interest [external link] or by calling tel:0300 373 5807
Home Upgrade Grant funding is available whether you own or privately rent your home, subject eligibility criteria.
HUG is fully funded if you are an owner-occupier (own your own home and live there).
Permission is required from your landlord if you are in private rented accommodation.
If you are renting from a private landlord, we will ask for a one-third contribution from the landlord towards the work.
The scheme is due to run until March 2025.

Boiler upgrade scheme

The government has announced that grants of between £5,000 and £7,500 will be made available for homeowners to install low carbon heating systems such as Air Source Heat pumps.

Air source heat pumps use the air as a source of heat. They absorb heat from the outside or surrounding air and transfer that into useable heat in the home for space or water heating, or both.

Find out more about the Boiler Upgrade scheme [external link]

Help with VAT

From 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2027, there is 0% VAT on the installation of energy-saving materials including heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Energy advice

How do I find my home's EPC rating?

An EPC contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs and gives the property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

The EPC is valid for 10 years and details recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

To view your property's EPC go to the find an energy certificate page [external link].

Your EPC may have recommendations on what measures can make your home more efficient.

There is general advice available on the Energy Saving Trust’s website [external link].

Government schemes are available

You may also be eligible for discounts if you’re an older person or have a low income.

Information is available on the cost of living page [external link].

Information on heating-related benefits is available on the Government Website at Help for households [external link].

Switch energy supplier

The best energy deal for you will depend on your usage and circumstances, so if you’re thinking about switching it’s important to make sure you get a deal that’s right for you.

You can assess the different deals from suppliers using an Ofgem-accredited price comparison website.

Find out more information on Ofgem switching energy supplier [external link].

If you do chose to switch and if you are private tenant, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to switch unless they pay your energy bills. It is always best to let them know regardless.

Energy debt

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, you are not alone.

1 in 5 households is in debt to their energy supplier and but there are a few things that can help.

If you paying off debt with a pre-payment meter and you rely on electric heating make sure your supplier knows as they may be able to change your payment plan amounts.

Many companies now also have funds to help people in urgent need repay their debt.

There are a number of energy companies who offer grants and schemes [external link] that are open to anyone - you don't have to be a customer.


If you would like advice on energy efficiency and information on the available schemes, switching suppliers or Fuel debt advice.

The Green Doctor team are offer virtual online sessions and home visits.

You can also contact Green Doctors on:


Advice on the National Energy Action website [external link].

NEA’s WASH Advice Service is a free support service providing advice to householders in England and Wales on their energy bills and keeping warm and safe in their home. We can also help with benefits advice and income maximisation.

Telephone0800 304 7159Open Monday-Friday, 10am-12noon

Need help contacting or dealing with your energy supplier?

Citizens Advice have powers to advocate for energy consumers.

In the first instance, call the consumer line and select energy advice on 0808 223 1133.

If you don’t have gas or electricity because you can’t top-up your prepayment meters, or you’re at risk of running out of credit and can’t top-up, ask Citizens Advice to negotiate on your behalf with your energy supplier.

You can also ask Citizens Advice to refer you to The Extra Help Unit if your energy supplier has threatened to disconnect your supply or install a prepayment meter under warrant.

Breathing Space scheme

Breathing Space (sometimes called the 'Debt Respite Scheme') is a free government scheme.

It could give you up to 60 days' space from creditors to focus on getting debt advice and setting up a debt solution.

If you apply and are eligible, all creditors will be informed.

They must stop any collection or enforcement activity.

You'll still need to keep making your regular payments if you can afford to.

StepChange [external link] can help with applications.

For more information of managing debt see our money debts and benefits page.

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