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The ECO4 scheme is coming – what does it mean for installers?

The ECO4 scheme is coming, being the latest in government funding initiatives to make UK homes more energy efficient. Installers that wish to work with the scheme will require the latest PAS2030 certification, which is where British Assessment Bureau can help. We provide both PAS2030 certification and Trustmark registration for installers who wish to work within the scheme and access government funding.

What is ECO4?

As you might tell from the name, ECO4 is the 4th phase of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. Funded by the UK government, it helps to make homes more energy-efficient, tackling fuel poverty and making energy more affordable for users.

Why is ECO4 being introduced?

The government realises that if they tackle the energy affordability problems head-on – at source – by improving the energy efficiency of homes, users will see their bills reduced. At the same time, it provides work for installation companies, producing a win-win scenario.

Energy prices have risen dramatically in the past few months, making energy efficiency in homes a major issue. Where residents are on a low income, their homes are lacking in insulation, and efficient heating systems, the EC04 scheme will make the environment far more comfortable whilst reducing the amount of money spent on fuel. The offshoot of this is that people’s health will improve as well as their sense of well-being, producing a positive outcome not only for the economy but also for society as a whole.

With the Energy Company Obligation scheme now in its fourth stage, it has already made a dramatic difference to the energy efficiency of 2.4 million homes since its inception in 2013. Currently, the government is committed to continuing the scheme until 2026 at a cost of £1 billion per year.

These changes are in line with the government Heat and Buildings Strategy, which details how the UK will decarbonise homes as part of setting a path to a net-zero target by 2050. The focus is on improving the fabric of homes so that they are ready to move towards a renewable form of heating. Existing boilers will be replaced where specific homes require warmth but are not suitable for a low carbon heating option. Whilst making properties more comfortable and healthier to live in, they are simultaneously being bolstered to withstand the onslaught of climate change. The government Heat and Buildings Strategy is responsible for creating policies to deal with anything that the future may bring, such as the risk of poor air quality indoors, flood risk and even water shortages.

Insulation provided via the ECO scheme is subject to independent installation standards as detailed within the Publicly Available Specification (PAS2035/2030:2019). The standards necessitate the assessment of a whole house when developing measures suitable for the home. The standards include the risk of overheating due to global warming, as referred to within the ECO4 scheme.

Current estimates show that during its four-year period, ECO4 should upgrade in the region of 450,000 homes, preventing them from being affected by fuel poverty in the future.

In England, the ECO scheme will run alongside two other government initiatives – the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. Together they will provide a full support package to homes that are struggling to become energy efficient.

When will ECO4 funding be available?

The ECO4 was due to begin in April 2022.  However, this has now been pushed back to July 2022.

How can my installation company benefit from ECO4?

The good news for installation companies is that with most homeowners struggling to pay energy bills, many are going to be interested in the ECO4 scheme. However, installers will need to pay attention to how they operate and the type of customers they work with.

It will be necessary to target customers that match the revised qualifying criteria. The rules regarding eligibility are going to change and it looks as if there may be no help for those falling within EPC bands A, B and C.

Grants are likely to be offered to homeowners with earnings below £31,000 who receive income-related government benefits. Their home will need to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) between D and G. Some customers may struggle to understand the qualifying criteria so details will have to be explained carefully by the installation company’s sales team.

For those installers that are unable to produce a list of suitable customers, it will be possible to buy qualified data from lead generation companies. The information will have been already sifted to ensure that those on the list qualify for the ECO4 grant and can use the installer to get their new ECO facilities fitted.

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