Is it worth applying for a Green Homes Grant?

22 December 2020 Kingspan Insulation UK
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Over the past few months, many of us have been spending more time than normal at home. This means those little jobs you’ve been putting off become that bit more urgent – whether it’s getting new carpets down, repainting or something more ambitious, like a loft conversion. Now that the boiler is starting to get some use, many will also be thinking about how much it will cost to heat our homes over the next few months. If your home is in England, one of the best ways to save some money on your heating bills over the longer-term may be to apply for a Green Homes Grant.

The Green Homes Grant is a new short-term funding programme offering grants of up to £5,000 covering as much as two thirds the cost of certain energy improvement works such as fitting insulation or solar thermal roof panels. If you are on a low income, the grant amount can rise to up to £10,000 covering the full cost of works. You can find out more about the scheme in our blog explaining what the Green Homes Grant is and how it works

Of course, unlike touching up damaged paintwork or replacing a tired bathroom, it’s often harder to see how well your home uses energy until the bill arrives. In this blog, we look at what steps you can take to understand how energy efficient your home is and whether a Green Home Grant may be right for you.

How can I check how energy efficient my home is?

In most cases, the best starting point when considering energy improvements is to take a look at your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This can be viewed by entering your address into the energy registry website. The EPC provides an overview of your property’s current performance, including an Energy Efficiency rating from A to F (A being the most efficient) and recommendations on how you can improve this including indicative costs for each measure and the savings you can expect to achieve with each. We look at the EPC in more detail in this explainer blog.

If your property currently doesn’t have an EPC rating you can arrange one through an accredited Energy Assessor, although this cost will not be covered by the grant. Alternatively, the Simple Energy Advice website provides an online questionnaire where you can fill in details about your home and receive a rough estimate of your home’s energy performance, the measures you can install and how much these are estimated to reduce your energy bills by. 

It’s important to note that park homes, high-rise buildings and buildings that are traditionally constructed and protected (such as listed buildings or those in conservation zones) are considered more complex to treat than other types of dwellings. For this reason, to qualify for a Green Homes Grant these must be completed by a TrustMark Registered installer in compliance with PAS 2030:2019 and PAS 2035:2019, with a Trustmark Retrofit Co-ordinator used for the duration of the installation. This requires a more in-depth assessment of properties and the development of a 20-30 year retrofit plan and design that may influence the measures you may wish to consider.

Learn more about PAS 2035.

 

How much can I save on bills by improving the energy efficiency of my home?

This will depend on how well your property currently performs and what measures can be fitted to improve it. For example, listed properties or those in conservation areas will have planning restrictions which may mean it is not possible to make significant savings. For other properties, the potential savings you can achieve should be shown on either your EPC or the results of the SEA questionnaire. 

As a rough indication, the average annual energy cost for homes within each EPC band in England are shown in the table below. 
 
Rating Annual energy cost per year
A/B £396
C £643
D £921
E £1,391
F £2,008
G £2,988
Table 1 - Average annual energy cost of homes based on EPC rating English Housing Survey

The results show that the annual average energy cost roughly halves with every two bands you move up (e.g. the energy cost for a C band home is less than half that of an E band property).

 

How much will improvement works cost?

The cost of any improvement works are influenced by a variety of factors including your property’s location and size, how easy it is to access the area where improvement work is being carried out, the scale of the improvement you want to make and what products you choose to have installed.  For example, your choice of boiler manufacturer and model may increase costs. Similarly, how well you choose to insulate your floors, roof or walls and what materials you use may also have an impact. 

The Energy Savings Trust provides the below rough costs for common improvements based on a typical semi-detached household, but actual savings will vary depending upon how much energy you use. For some, improving the energy efficiency of a home can mean the difference between not being able to afford to heat it, to being able to. 
 
Measure Estimated costs
Loft insulation £240 - £300
External wall insulation Around £13,000
Internal wall insulation Around £7,400
Floor insulation £520 - £1,300
Hot water tank insulation £15
Boiler replacement Around £2,300
Air-source heat pump £9,000 - £11,000
Ground-source heat pump £14,000 - £19,000
Solar thermal panels £4,000 - £5,000
Table 2 – Energy Saving Trust estimated cost of energy efficiency improvement measures for a typical semi-detached dwelling

You should be able to get a slightly more accurate estimate for your own property from your EPC certificate or the results of the SEA survey. In many cases, you can save money overall by having more than one measure installed at once, as less preparation work is required. Keep in mind that in addition to the cost of the improvement work itself, you may also need to consider related costs. For example, any damp issues will need to be addressed before insulation can be installed.

 

How much can I save with a Green Homes Grant?

The amount you can receive will depend on whether you are applying through the standard or low-income schemes. As mentioned earlier, applications through the standard scheme can support grants of up to £5,000 typically covering two thirds the cost of work whilst low income applications cover 100% of the costs up to £10,000.

The grant will also depend on the measures you are having installed. Improvements are separated into primary and secondary classifications. Each application must include at least one primary measure (which covers home insulation and the installation of solar thermal and heat pumps). The total amount of money available for secondary measures is capped at that given for the primary measures. You can find a detailed explanation of how this works in our Green Homes Guide FAQ.

Importantly, in addition to covering the cost of the measure you are having installed, the Green Homes Grant can also be used to pay for a number of related works. These include carrying out work to treat damp and installing measures related to low carbon heating systems such as fitting underfloor heating or more efficient radiators. 

 

How can I get best value from a Green Homes Grant?

To get the best value, measures shouldn’t be considered in isolation, instead, they should form part of a coherent long-term plan for your property. This is known as a “whole house approach”. 

In general, this will mean prioritising improvements to the outer envelope of your building (walls, roof and floors) because the cheapest energy is that which you never use. This may include fitting insulation, draught proofing and double or triple glazing as well as providing improved ventilation. By addressing these areas first, you will immediately cut the energy needed to keep your home warm (the main source of energy bills). 

Prioritising these improvements means that if you need to make changes to your heating system in future, such as replacing the boiler or radiators, you should be able to install more economical, lower powered units without any loss of warmth or comfort.

Need more information?

If you have any questions about the scheme or how your property might benefit from retrofitting insulation then get in touch with our dedicated Green Homes Grant team using the form below or the following contact details: greenhomesgrant@kingspaninsulation.co.uk or call 01544 387 883.
 

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