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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

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.

Grants are also available to help with installation costs

  • Energy Company Obligation (ECO) 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.

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 once this is launched.

The Councils Statement of Intent (SOI) for ECO Flex 4 will be published as soon as possible in accordance with BEIS/OFGEM guidance .

These Eco Flex 4 proposals are currently being developed in conjunction with local installers and are expected to go live in Autumn 2022.

We are not currently issuing ECO declarations to installers. The SOI below only relates to and validates ECO Flex applications up until 30 June 2022.

Version 3 Darlington Flexible Eligibility - statement of intent ECOFLEX, update in March 2019[pdf document] – withdrawn 30 June 2022.

If you would like to register your interest in this scheme as a householder or installer please email [email protected].

Boiler upgrade scheme

The government has announced that grants of between £5,000 and £6,000 will be made available for homeowners to install low carbon heating systems such as Air Source Heat pumps until 2025.

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]

Home Upgrade Grant (HUG)

The Tees Valley Combined Authority, in partnership with Stockton, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Councils, has secured more than £3 million worth of funding to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the Tees Valley.

Home Upgrade Grant funding is available whether you own or privately rent your home, subject to the eligibility criteria.

The following energy saving measures available are:

  • Replacement cavity wall insulation
  • External wall insulation
  • High retention storage heaters
  • Solar PV
  • Solar thermal
  • Loft insulation
  • Double glazing
  • Draught proofing
  • Air source heat pump

To be eligible, all the following criteria must be met:

  • Your home must be ‘off gas’, meaning either not connected to the gas network or heated by an inefficient non-gas system – e.g., oil, solid fuel, electricity (low efficiency storage heaters) etc.
  • Your total household income must be less than £30,000 annually (may be higher in some instances).
  • The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property must have a rating of E to G (in some cases D rating). If you do not know your EPC rating, find out on the gov.uk find an energy certificate page [external link].
  • You must live in Redcar & Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton or Darlington council areas.

HUG is fully funded if you are an owner-occupier (own your own home and live there).

Permission will be required from your landlord if you are in private rented accommodation.

If you are renting from a private landlord, we may ask for a one-third contribution from the landlord towards the work.

If you are interested in applying for a Home Upgrade Grant, please complete the expression of interest form on the HUG Tees Valley website [external link]. 

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 gov.uk find an energy certificate page [external link].

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

If you would like advice on energy efficiency, and information on the schemes on which to benefit from, and you live in England and Wales, the Simple Energy Advice website [external link] offers impartial energy efficiency advice.

You can also call Simple Energy on 0800 444 202.

There is general advice on the National Energy Action website [external link].

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

The Green Doctor team are also offering a virtual online sessions and home visits.

You can also contact Green Doctors on:

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 gov.uk 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

It is unlikely that you would be able to save on your gas and electricity bills by changing your supplier at the moment. 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.

There will be an automatic limit on how much you will be charged for each unit of gas or electricity from 1 October.

Find out how the Energy Price Guarantee limits your energy prices [external link].

This means the typical household won’t usually pay more than £2,500 a year for gas and electricity.

But your energy bills could be more or less than £2,500 a year, depending on how much gas and electricity you use.

You don’t need to do anything. The Energy Price Guarantee automatically applies to all types of energy tariffs.

You may get calls, emails or messages that pretend to be from a government service or energy bill support scheme.

If you get a message asking for your personal details (for example, bank details or passwords) this could be a scam.

Report anything you think is suspicious [external link]

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.

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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