How to get free cavity wall and loft insulation

It's not too late to get free insulation installed in your home. And if you're on a low income or benefits, you could get cash or vouchers as well.

The Government's flagship Green Deal policy has launched today to little fanfare. This scheme offers loans for energy efficiency improvements, from loft insulation to solar panels, which will be repaid via a household's energy bills. But you can still get free insulation right now.

Back in April 2008, the then-Labour Government introduced the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), which the Green Deal is replacing. This put some of the responsibility for reducing carbon dioxide emissions on the shoulders of the big energy companies.

As part of CERT, companies have to offer financial help with energy efficiency measures, such as loft and wall insulation. They also have to increase the amount of energy they generate from renewable technologies such as wind and solar power.

In July 2010, the current Government extended the final phase of CERT from March 2011 to December 2012. It also ordered the energy companies to focus on insulation and imposed a tougher emissions reduction target.

And the really great thing is that you don’t have to get the insulation installed by the company who supplies your energy.

It’s estimated that good loft and cavity wall insulation could shave an average of £310 a year off energy bills.

However, time is running out to take advantage of this final period of free insulation offers before the Green Deal loans begin in January. If you're on a low income or benefits, you could also receive shopping vouchers or cash once your installation is completed.



What the energy companies are offering

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on offer by company and the deadlines for applying:

Company

Offer open to

Deadline for applying

British Gas
Everyone 30th November
EDF Everyone 31st October

npower

Households where someone receives State Pension Credit or Child Tax Credits (with an income below £16,190)

December

E.ON

Households where someone receives State Pension Credit or Child Tax Credits (with an income below £16,190)

December



You might not qualify if…

There are also some further exceptions to the rules.

Firstly, in terms of loft insulation, you’re unlikely to qualify if:

  • You already have more than 60mm thick loft insulation
  • The company cannot insulate two-thirds of the loft space
  • The installation requires additional equipment – in this case, you can still have it done, but you’ll have to pay something towards the installation
  • You have a large (five-bedroom plus) or unusual property
  • You live in the far north and islands of Scotland

And you may be ineligible for cavity wall insulation if:

  • You have pre-existing cavity wall insulation
  • The company cannot insulate at least two-thirds of the wall’s cavities
  • The installation requires additional equipment – in this case, you can still have it done, but you’ll have to pay something towards the installation
  • You have a large (five-bedroom plus) or unusual property
  • You live in the far north and islands of Scotland

However, this does vary from company to company so check before you rule anything in or out.



Don’t qualify? You can still save on insulation

If you don’t qualify for free insulation for whatever reason, you can still get discounted installation with all of the major energy companies, and others such as Sainsbury’s Energy. Shop around to get the cheapest installation price – it may not be with an energy company. Whatever road you go down, make sure whoever’s installing it is a member of either:

  • The National Insulation Association (NIA)
  • The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA)
  • The British Board of Agrément (BBA)

Remember to also check that:

  • Your installer is signed up to a code of professional practice like the one provided by the NIA
  • The cavity wall installation is guaranteed for 25 years by CIGA


Help for low-income households

In addition to help with cavity wall and loft insulation, there are schemes around the UK to help you with other aspects of heating and insulation:

  • In England, there’s Warm Front
  • In Wales there’s Nest (not to be confused with the workplace pension scheme)
  • In Scotland there’s the Energy Assistance Package
  • In Northern Ireland, there’s the Warm Homes scheme

Local authority grants

Many local authorities also have grants available to local residents to help them pay for energy efficient measures. The Energy Saving Trust website has a grants and discounts section, as does Consumer Focus.

More:

How to avoid the next big energy price rise

The Green Deal explained

Green deal launches with just one provider