Getting paid to insulate
Being paid to save money sounds counter-intuitive at best, but whoever first said ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ clearly hadn’t heard of Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets (CERT). Our duty to decrease the amount of energy being pumped into the atmosphere means energy companies are not only giving away insulation, they’re paying people to have it installed.
Under CERT energy suppliers must meet certain obligations, including to insulate particular households referred to as ‘priority’ and ‘super-priority’.
These include a range of households over a given age, below a certain income, or receiving a range of benefits including Pension Credit and Child Tax Credit. There’s just one problem, and unbelievably in the age of mass-communication it’s the simplest: telling them about it.
Giving it away
Energy-suppliers like Eon are literally giving away insulation, offering anyone receiving pension credit for instance free loft and cavity wall insulation plus £100. That’s on top of the £310 a year on they would save on energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust estimates for a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house.
But take up has been slow, despite a huge number of people who could qualify. According to statistics from Age UK there are an estimated 4 million people in the UK on pension credit – although 1 in 3 of those eligible are not currently claiming it. Pension credit is means-tested, with income and savings taken into account.
And it’s not just pension credit. Those over 70, or those who get a range of other benefits* (see bottom) can also get free insulation installed, although they’ll miss out on the £100 cheque.
We need you
So we’re calling on you, the public, to help us find people who are eligible for this great deal. Do you receive pension credit? Do you know anyone else, from a mother, father, neighbour or friend, who might qualify?
Our insulation guide pages will help you navigate the various option available, advise on how to tell what insulation is suitable, and help you get started.
To find out about if you or someone you know is eligible for pension credit take a look at the DirectGov guide to pension credit.
But it’s not just those on pension credit who could benefit from insulation. Government figures estimate 9.6 million homes don’t have enough loft insulation and 7.8 million do not have enough cavity wall insulation. What’s more research by Consumer Focus found that over a third (35%) of people are unaware that suppliers offer free or discounted insulation.
Ask yourself the uSwitch top-5 insulation questions
1) Is your house suitable for cavity wall insulation?
The first thing to do is ask yourself when your home was built? Anything after 1930 but before 1995 probably has cavity walls. Also, cavity walls are usually at least 30cm thick which you can check by measuring at a doorway or window.
2) Do you already have loft insulation?
Loft insulation is suitable for almost any home with an accessible loft without damp or condensation problems. For those not receiving pension credit or other forms of benefits who don’t have loft insulation – or have insulation that’s less than 60mm deep – you’ll be able to get your loft insulated for around £49.
If you already have loft insulation with a depth between 60mm and 160mm you can still get extra insulation installed for £200 to reach the recommended level.
3) Why are you insulating?
Homes lose a lot of heat. Of the heat lost, the typical house will lose around 30% and up to 40% through the walls. The roof will lose about 25%, then windows and doors at around 20%.
4) Make sure you don’t need planning permission
In most cases, you won’t need planning permission from your local council. However, if you’re looking into external wall insulation, or you’re in an area where there are conservation schemes, glazing, check with your council. Building regulations could also apply, so check with your local council’s building control department before undertaking any work.
5) Don’t forget the little things
Draught proofing. It’s a quick, cheap option, but considering around 30% of the heat in your home is lost through draughts don’t ignore it. Our top-ten draught proofing tips will guide you through the do’s and don’ts.
* Other benefits that might qualify are: Attendance allowance, Council tax benefit (not including the single occupancy reduction), Disablement Pension Credit (which must include mobility supplement or constant attendance allowance), Disability living allowance, Housing benefit, Income related employment and support allowance, Income support, Income-based job seekers allowance, War disablement pension (which must include mobility supplement or constant attendance allowance), or Working tax credit (where the relevant income is £16,190 or less).