If you have been reading or listening to the news lately, there is a good chance you’ve heard the phrase ‘energy company obligation’ or 'ECO' being bandied about.
What is the energy company obligation scheme (ECO)?
The energy companies obligation was originally introduced in 2013, and replaced two previous schemes: the carbon emissions reduction target, or CERT; and the community energy savings program, or CESP.
Like CERT and CESP before it, the energy company obligation legally requires the energy companies to help improve the energy efficiency of some of their customers’ homes across the UK, thereby reducing carbon emissions and cutting energy bills. A win-win situation.
The first run of ECO ended March 2015, and a newer, more inclusive version of the programme commenced 1 April 2015 and will run until 31 March 2017.
The ECO scheme has three parts:
- Carbon Emissions Obligation targets all UK homes
- Carbon Saving Community Obligation targets areas of low income and deprived rural areas
- Home Heat Cost Reduction Obligation targets low income areas and vulnerable homes
The government estimates that the ECO deal will help thousands of households across the country with their energy efficiency, with up to 230,000 households on lower incomes benefiting, as well as others eligible for other components of the scheme.
Details of the ECO deal components
The carbon emissions obligation is a requirement for energy companies to promote free installment of energy saving measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation.
Application of these measures can save households in energy costs.
The carbon saving community obligation is there to promote insulation and connections to district heating systems in low income regions.
Finally, the home heating cost reduction obligation is an initiative targeted at improving the ability of low income and vulnerable households to effectively heat homes. This typically includes measures such as boiler replacement.
Do I qualify for ECO funding?
There are a number of steps to determine whether you qualify for any element of ECO funding.
If you in are a lower-income property and want to be considered for the means-tested ECO grants, you should call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
If you are considering either cavity wall insulation or loft insulation then you may be able to receive financial assistance under the eco scheme. You can contact your energy supplier to find out more.
How else can I save energy?
Even if you don't qualify for ECO funding there are still plenty of easy steps you can take to improve the energy-efficiency of your home.
Little steps like making sure all your light-bulbs are energy-saving bulbs is a great start, as well as draught-proofing around the home.
Look for any areas around windows and doors, or even fireplaces and letterboxes that might be letting in cold air, and letting your expensive heated air escape. Fixing draught-proofing is cheap and easy to do, just visit your local hardware store and look for draught proofing foam and strips.
You can also save energy by changing your habits. Besides closing curtains at night and closing doors on unheated rooms, try turning your thermostat down by just one degree. This simple change can save you money on heating year after year, and while in the short run you may put on a jumper you might not even notice the difference after a week.
Big savings are to be made with your white goods. When it comes to replacing a fridge, freezer, washing machine or washer/dryer look for energy efficient models. Most shops will now provide a usage figure and energy efficiency rating when they sell new white goods.