Great British Insulation Scheme launches offering free insulation for some – check if you’re eligible

Construction workers fitting insulation

The government’s new scheme for part or fully subsidised insulation should benefit over 300,000 homes. Find out if you’re eligible today.

If you live in a home in a lower council tax band with low energy efficiency, help may be at hand. The Great British Insulation Scheme launched in September 2023, making grants available for households which need insulation installed.

This could be a gift for saving on your energy bills, and will also help with your energy performance certificate (EPC) rating.

These measures are intended to improve the energy efficiency of over 300,000 homes across England, Scotland and Wales, saving families between £300-£400 on their heating bills.

But what improvements are available? And does your home qualify for a grant? Here we look at the ins and outs of the Great British Insulation Scheme.

And if you’re thinking of switching energy supplier, see how to do an energy comparison to find the cheapest deals.

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What is the Great British Insulation Scheme?

This government initiative launched on 14 September 2023, and is intended to help people insulate their homes. The goal is for properties to become more energy efficient, ultimately saving householders money on their heating bills. It’s currently scheduled to run until March 2026.

At the time of writing, around 1,140 measures have been installed in 1,026 households nationwide. And this number is going up month on month.

Previously known as ECO+, the £1 billion scheme aims to help eligible households in England, Scotland and Wales wrap their homes in insulation, such as loft insulation, and solid or cavity wall insulation.

According to Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance: “Boosting the energy efficiency of homes creates the best long-term protection against fuel poverty for the most vulnerable.

“That’s why we are helping families with extra support to make their homes warmer, while saving hundreds on energy costs.”

The scheme runs alongside an existing program called the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). With participation from energy suppliers, this offers free energy efficiency improvements to homes. This can include insulation, but also extends to solar panels and heat pumps to low-income households.

What kind of insulation is available?

Households can potentially get help with a range of insulation types:

  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Solid wall insulation (either internal or external)
  • Loft insulation
  • Flat or pitched roof insulation
  • Underfloor insulation
  • Solid floor insulation
  • Room-in-roof insulation
  • Park home insulation

At the time of writing, cavity wall insulation is by far the most popular of the measures installed, followed by loft insulation and new heating controls.

But what are these types of insulation, exactly?

The most common types of insulation are as follows:

  • Loft insulation. In an uninsulated home, about a quarter of heat is lost through the roof. You can help trap this heat with mineral wool insulation, which is installed in the rafters. Installation will be slightly different if you have a flat roof, but the principle is the same.

  • Solid wall insulation. You’re likely to have solid walls if your home was built before the 1920s. These can be insulated either on the outside or inside. It’s a bigger and more costly job than installing cavity wall insulation, but the savings are likely to be greater.

  • Cavity wall insulation. Properties built after 1920 usually have a gap between walls, known as the cavity. Buildings from the last 20 years are likely to be insulated, but older buildings may have an empty cavity. These can then be filled with insulated material.

Do bear in mind though that cavity wall insulation isn’t for everyone. It’s vitally important to check that cavity wall insulation is appropriate for your property before you proceed – otherwise it could lead to damp and mould problems. If you qualify for cavity insulation under the scheme, seek assurances from the installation company that it’s right for your home.

Will I have to pay for the insulation?

Once you’ve applied for the scheme, you’ll be informed of the grant amount after approval. This should hopefully cover the full insulation cost, including its installation.

While certain types of insulation will be straightforward to install, others may be more complicated. In some instances, customers may be asked to make a contribution towards some of the costs. That said, the lion’s share should hopefully still be covered.

It’s worth noting that, if you’re asked to absorb any of the costs, you’re under no obligation to proceed.

Who qualifies for the GB Insulation Scheme?

While previous iterations of the ECO+ scheme were intended for use by low-income households, the latest version extends eligibility to households with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of D or below, and homes in lower council tax bandings. This includes homes in bands A-D in England, or A-E in Scotland and Wales (find out how to check your council tax band).

It’s hoped that over 300,000 homes in England, Scotland and Wales will benefit from having insulation installed under the scheme. The government claims that families will save an average of £300 to £400 a year on their energy bills.

How do I check if I’m eligible?

To make life easier, there’s a GB Insulation Scheme online eligibility checker.

You’ll need to know:

You can also call a government helpline on 0800 098 7950 for support. The line’s open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm; and Saturday, 9am to 12pm. The line isn’t open on public holidays.

You should also be able to check your eligibility and apply via your energy supplier’s website.

What other support is available?

If you’re struggling to pay for your gas and electricity, there may be help available with your energy bills – such as hardship funds for those with energy debt.

It’s also worth seeing if you qualify for the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payments, Winter Fuel Payments or cost of living payments.

I’m eligible. How do I get insulation for my home?

If you go via the government checker above and find you are eligible, you’ll be prompted to create a referral to your energy supplier by entering your contact details.

Your energy supplier should then get in touch to arrange an assessment of your home to see which type of insulation would be most suitable. 

Once completed, you’ll be told what work needs to be done, and how much (if anything) you’ll have to pay yourself.

If you don’t agree with the assessment, or don’t wish to shoulder the cost, you’re under no obligation to accept. It’s worth weighing up any costs against how much you’re likely to save each year, however.

How much will I save on my bills?

The government’s headline figure is a household saving of £300-£400 a year, on average. Obviously this will vary depending on the size of the house, how it’s built and so on.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, here are some ballpark savings figures for a 3-bedroom, gas-heated, semi-detached house in England, Scotland and Wales, based on fuel costs in July 2023:

Type of insulation Typical installation cost* Energy bill savings /year Carbon dioxide savings (kgCO2/year)
Cavity wall insulation £2,700 £300 650kg
Solid wall insulation £7,500 for internal walls £410 880kg
Loft insulation £930 for 270mm insulation £285 620kg

(1) A successful grant application will cover this cost in full or in part

Should I apply for the GB Insulation Scheme?

That’s up to you. If you find that your insulation costs and installation are completely covered, then effectively you’ll be saving money for free. If so, the main thing to weigh up is any household disruption during the installation.

If you have to pay some of the cost, then there will be a little more weighing up to do. If you decide it’s not for you, you’re under no obligation to proceed.

There are additional factors to consider beyond the cost. Having a better-insulated home will also reduce your emissions. As such, the scheme is welcomed by the Energy Saving Trust. Chief Executive Mike Thornton says: “Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is a vital part of addressing both the energy crisis and climate emergency.

“By reducing demand for fossil fuels it provides a triple win long-term solution for cutting energy bills, decreasing carbon emissions and improving energy security.

“The launch of the Great British Insulation Scheme is therefore a welcome development as it will mean more households are eligible for financial support for insulation measures and comes at a crucial time as we approach the colder winter months.”

How else can I save on my energy?