English homeowners can now apply for vouchers worth up to £5,000 or £10,000 to make their properties more environmentally friendly.
From Sept 30, the Government began issuing an estimated 600,000 vouchers via the Green Homes Grant scheme that was announced earlier this summer, worth a total of £2bn.
It will be met with huge demand. Nearly two thirds (62%) of English homeowners are interested in applying, according to polling by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a think tank. The results have sparked fears that the scheme will be overwhelmed.
A quarter of the survey’s respondents said that they were “very interested” in the grant. If one in four households applies, there will be six million applications – 10 times the number of available grants. The demand is unsurprising. Jess Ralston, of the ECIU, said England’s homes were “in such a bad way”. More than half (52%) fall below the Energy Performance Certificate band C – the Government’s target energy efficiency band for 2035.
So, how can you get one, and what can you use it for?
How much money can I get and do I have to pay it back?
The Government will provide vouchers to cover two thirds of the cost of a selection of home improvements. The value of the voucher is £5,000 maximum.
If either the homeowner or a member of their household receives certain benefits, however, they can receive a voucher to cover the full cost of the improvements, up to £10,000 in total.
The homeowner can use the voucher to pay the installer, who then receives payment directly from the Government.
The voucher is a grant and therefore does not have to be repaid by the homeowner. But all works must be completed by 31 March 2021 or the voucher will expire.
What can I use the money for?
The vouchers must be used for at least one “primary” measure – installing insulation or low carbon heating.
These encompass cavity wall, loft and underfloor insulation, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal heating and biomass pellet boilers. If you install one of the primary measures, you can then also use the grant for a “secondary” measure. The subsidy for the secondary measure is capped at the value of the grant provided for the primary one.
Approved secondary measures include draught proofing, triple glazing, energy efficient replacement doors, secondary glazing, hot water tank insulation and thermostats, and heating controls such as smart controls.
The voucher cannot be used to build extensions or install fossil fuel heaters. You also cannot use it to refund or replace works that you have already done, but it can be used for “top ups”, such as installing additional insulation.
Am I eligible to apply?
You need to be a homeowner in England. Long leaseholders and shared ownership homes are technically included, but new build properties that have not been lived in by anybody else are excluded.
Private and social landlords are eligible for the grant worth up to £5,000, but not for the low-income household grant of £10,000 maximum.
If you have already received a Green Homes Grant via the local authority delivery scheme (which was allocated £500m of the £2bn funding to improve the energy efficiency of low-income households), then you cannot apply for the central scheme.
Use the Simple Energy Advice website to check your eligibility and to see the list of accredited traders in your area who you can get a quote from. Homeowners should get at least three quotes before applying. The voucher will be subject to terms and conditions including minimum installation standards.
Will the Green Homes Grant boost my house price?
The Government estimates that the changes funded by the grant could cut your energy bills by up to £600 per year. But there could also be some perks in capital appreciation.
According to Money.co.uk, a comparison website, installing a ground source heat pump can add 5.4% to your house price, equivalent to an extra £13,407 on the average £248,271 home. Heating controls and insulation measures can each boost values by £16,000 or 6.4%. But it is double glazing that will be your biggest money maker. This can add £24,827 to your home value – 10%.
[Source: telegraph.co.uk, 5 October 2020]
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