Help with financing your energy efficiency measures

There are three sort of financial assistance available for energy efficiency measures:

  • Grants such as the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and, locally, the Cambridgeshire Solid Wall Insulation Fund.
  • Loans, either through the Green Deal or other lenders
  • Renewable energy incentives
    • Feed in Tariffs for renewable electricity (solar electricity panels, wind turbines and other sources)
    • Renewable Heat Incentive for renewable heat (solar hot water panels, heat pumps and biomass boilers).

Grants and loans

The main source of grants and loans for home energy efficiency improvement is the Green Deal - see our Green Deal FAQ page. After having a Green Deal assessment you may then qualify for a Green Deal loan or for ECO grants. You can access most Green Deal finance through any green Deal provider.

Also, in Cambridgeshire we have the Cambs Home Improvement Agency (HIA), helping people who are elderly or vulnerable, who have disability needs, or who are on a low income. The HIA can help you repair, maintain or adapt your home by providing practical or financial advice and support. Owner-occupiers may be able to get a one-off, non-secured and non-repayable Home Energy Grant of up to 1,000 to introduce measures that will improve the energy efficiency of your home. For more information please telephone 01954 712 234 or go to their website.

If you are a landlord, you may be entitled to tax relief savings through the Landlords Energy Savings Allowance (LESA) scheme. This allows you to claim relief for the costs of insulating homes you rent out, up to 1,500 per property.

Renewable energy incentives

The Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) are payments for renewable energy that you generate. They are designed to encourage investment by giving you a reliable and significant return, enough that the system will pay for itself in 7-10 years. The FiTs have been around since about 2010 and the RHI has been available for commercial installations for a while but it has only just been opened to domestic ones.

The RHI is quite similar to the FiTs in quite a lot of ways. The following table compares some of the main features and shows how much you might get. In both cases, the starting rate you get will decrease over time but once you have started your rate is guaranteed and linked to inflation.

Feed in Tariffs Renewable Heat Incentive
Payment for electricity you generate, for example from solar panels. Payment for renewable heat from solar hot water panels, air or ground source heat pumps or biomass boilers or stoves. However, you can only get the RHI for stoves which are your main heating system, not just for a supplementary log stove.
This is paid by electricity companies - ultimately we all pay through our bills and some people think this is unfair because it means even people on low incomes are supporting the investment which benefits more wealthy people with spare cash. This is paid from central government funding, through OFGEM, so ultimately we pay through our taxes.
20 years 7 years, but calculated based on you using the system for 20 years,
Index linked to RPI, tax free Index linked to RPI, tax free
There are two parts to the payment. The main part is the generation tariff, paid for all the electricity you generate whether you use it or not. You will have a generation meter installed when the PV system is installed. Also there is an export tariff for the electricity you export to the grid. However, this is not normally metered. It is just deemed to be half of what you generate. The heat you generate is rarely metered. In most cases your payment is based on the amount of heat you are expected to get from the system, as estimated on your MCS installation certificate. This means you can't get more money by heating your home to tropical temperatures!
The payment rate (p/kWh) depends on your technology and the size of the system but domestic PV will normally be the smallest size, up to 4kWp. Also, the starting rates decrease over time, because installations are getting cheaper. The payback time is more or less as it was, a bit less than 10 years. The payment rate (p/kWh) depends on your technology. Also, the starting rates decrease over time, to allow for the fall in the price of the technology.
To qualify for the full rate you must have an EPC for your home level D or better. Below that you can still get paid but at a lower rate of return. To qualify you must have had a Green Deal Assessment for your home and if this recommends loft or cavity wall insulation then you must have that installed.
Example savings for a 4 kWp system (based on rates as of April 2014).
Generator tariff489/yearAssume 850 kWh/kWp, higher rate
Export tariff81/yearBased on half the amount you generate
Bill savings142Assume 14p/kWh on 30%
Example payments for solar hot water panels. Your installation is usually big enough to meet your needs, based on the number of people in your house. You should get about 60% of your hot water through the year. If you use 40 litres/person/day, that works out at about 2.1 kWh /person/day. 60% would be 460 kWh/year and at the current rate of 19.2p/kWh that is 90 /person /year.
For further information try our advice on PV panels or the EST
For more information try our advice on Hot Water panels or the EST.