Green Homes Grant Homeowner Briefing

by Blog

The Green Homes Grant has created a buzz in the world of retrofit. We’ve been inundated with questions about the scheme, so here’s our view.

Proceed with caution, with research into measures and installers. As part of a wider whole house approach it could be a good funding opportunity for you. It’s hard for us to give advice on individual measures without seeing your home, read on you’ll see why!

Take a look at our webinar on the Green Homes Grant Scheme (recorded 03/09/20)

The facts

  • £2 billion scheme
  • £5,000 matched grant (£10,000 unmatched for some)
  • Scheme is open now (apply here)
  • Programme ends 31st March 2021 

Using the scheme

Run by BEIS (The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), the scheme will cover two thirds of the total cost of a project up to a £5,000 voucher. So if you want to claim the maximum £5,000 voucher, you need to put in £2,500, which would be two thirds of a £7,500 project. Homes of people on low incomes or accessing benefits will receive £10,000 without need to match any funding.

All the details about the scheme as well as the application process can be found of the Government’s Simple Energy Advice website https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk

As always it’s important to understand the terms and conditions and take these into account when considering if the scheme is for you. https://green-homes-grant.service.gov.uk/customer-terms-and-conditions

What can be claimed?

Primary measures unlock secondary measures and you can’t claim more for Secondary Measures than you have for Primary Measures.

Primary Measures

Insulation:

  • Solid wall
  • Cavity wall
  • Under-floor insulation (solid floor; suspended floor)
  • Loft
  • Flat roof
  • Room in roof
  • Park home insulation

Low carbon heating systems (if your home is suitably insulated):

  • Air source heat pump
  • Ground source heat pump
  • Solar thermal
  • Biomass pellet boilers*

* Due to concerns over fuel carbon emissions and indoor and outdoor pollution, we don’t advocate the installation of biomass pellet boilers outside of specific circumstances, for example rural homes with existing oil or kerosene heating systems. Even in those circumstances, other systems should be considered. 

Secondary Measures

  • Windows and doors:
  • Draught proofing
  • Double/triple glazing 
  • Secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
  • Energy efficient replacement doors
  • Heating controls and insulation:
  • Hot water tank thermostats
  • Hot water tank insulation
  • Heating Controls (Smart heating controls, zone controls, intelligent delayed start thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves)

Further measures

Since initial announcements, BEIS have addressed feedback, clarifying eligible activities and adding some limited services. Vouchers cover professional design and evaluation services as well as basic repairs in preparation for measures and improvements to ventilation, as of the time of publishing further criteria limiting who/what services qualify are expected to be added. More details here: https://s.coop/2ji0o 

Getting the most from the scheme

Assess your needs and avoid unintended consequences

It wouldn’t be very Carbon Co-op of us to discourage anyone from installing energy efficiency measures, but be careful when going ahead with individual measures outside of a whole house approach. Make sure you become informed around the different measures on offer and consider the impact on your home as a system before going ahead with individual measures.

A whole house approach, where you consider the home as a whole and interconnected system, will help you to avoid unintended consequences, unnecessary work or later rework. An initial assessment is key, and there are services out there, such as People Powered Retrofit’s Home Retrofit Assessment service, that can provide expert analysis of the existing condition of your home, what the risks are associated with any proposed measures, and how different measures might interact. 

We suggest using an assessor who visits your home to get a first hand view, to collect data and discuss your motivations for retrofit. Your priorities and preferences as well as factors like comfort, health and indoor air quality should be taken into consideration, as well as the existing condition of your home and whether any repair or maintenance might be required before carrying out retrofit works.

An outcome report should form the basis of a plan, which can be acted upon across short or long term, working towards optimising the efficiency of your home. It also helps you become an informed client, less reliant on installers to provide information to support decision making. 

The Simple Energy Advice website provides a short questionnaire to generate some potentially qualifying measures and contains information to aid in your research. Remember this is largely based on Energy Performance Certificate data and a few questions about you and your home, which we feel do little to mitigate the risks identified at the start of this section. Take the indicative costs given here with a pinch of salt, actual quotes will vary.

Be cautious with Low Carbon Heat Measures

Becoming informed is even more important around low carbon heat measures such as heat pumps, where an appropriately well insulated and air tight home is a must for them to work effectively.The calculations and considerations here are complex. Be aware an EPC rating is only somewhat related to how well a home is insulated, so even if you have a high rating, you still need to do some research into whether a measure is right for you.  

Materials may be restricted

It’s currently unclear whether the grant will restrict you to use products with certain certifications such as BBA (British Board of Agrément) or ETAG (European Technical Approval Guidelines). It’s likely there will be a narrower choice of materials available for works carried out under the grant scheme, particularly when it comes to more ‘natural’ materials’.

An installers Trustmark is no substitute for a good reputation

The government has rightly taken steps to incorporate Quality Management into the voucher system via the Trustmark scheme and the application of standards like PAS2030 and MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), but remember, this does not guarantee quality. It’s about the attitude and responsibility of the person ‘on the tools’.

Trustmark is no substitute for doing some research into the installer to make sure they are reputable with a strong track record. Likewise, don’t disregard a contractor without Trustmark accreditation for works outside the scheme, if they can show they’ll do a good job – their businesses also really need support at this time.  

We were disappointed to see that many small scale, general contractors, sole traders and small firms will not be able to deliver work under the scheme. This is because they are not already accredited in order to meet registration requirements under Trustmark, and they don’t have the administrative capacity to gain it fast enough to benefit. 

We think this favours larger companies with dedicated administrative support, and could prove to exclude those that could otherwise provide high quality and value to homeowners. This is unfortunate as market capacity is needed during the tight timescales of the grant to reduce the likelihood of shortages of labour and parts, and prevent prices rising.

We hope it works

Despite the challenges we really want the scheme to succeed, and hope it shows the government that with further support for retrofit it could really take off! 

How assistance from the People Powered Retrofit service aligns with the grant

People Powered Retrofit is an end-to-end service for householders committed to retrofitting their homes. Operating on a paid for basis, we offer advice, a whole house assessment, project coordination, design, procurement, and onsite coordination. We also support handover and impact assessment, to make sure you get the most out of your new measures.

If you are interested in using the voucher as part of our service, we can offer advice, assessment and design to appropriately identify and support the delivery of measures, and we will ensure eligible contractors are included at tendering stage. 

However, as noted above, the scheme may limit your choice of contractor and materials and increased demand may lead to delays in quoting and works, so we can also help you decide whether the scheme works for your project or whether alternate procurement routes make sense. 

As the scheme progresses, we will assess making elements of the People Powered Retrofit service eligible under the vouchers. 

If you’re less interested in taking a whole house approach, our People Powered Retrofit service isn’t really geared up to help you.

About People Powered Retrofit

People Powered Retrofit is a householder-led approach to domestic energy efficiency retrofit supported by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). We work mainly across Greater Manchester, but in some cases further afield across the North and English Midlands.

Email us at info@carbon.coop if you’re interested in pursuing our approach and would like assistance from the People Powered Retrofit Team. 

If you’re out of our area you can still access free learning materials and webinars, or support us by joining as a member at https://carbon.coop

Useful links

Simple Energy Advice Green Homes Grant page: https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/green-homes-grant

Search suppliers with Trustmark: https://www.trustmark.org.uk/register-user

This blog is updated as more information emerges from government. Last updated 30 September 2020.