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Energy boost: is the Green Homes Grant for you?

Published: 25/10/2020

Ever since the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) back in 2007, the energy efficiency of homes has been a high priority in the minds of many homebuyers. Increasing fuel costs, climate change and an all-round awareness of the environment have contributed to a shared responsibility around energy use to minimise our carbon footprint and effect on the planet.

Since the end of September this year, the Government's Green Homes Grant has made available £2billion for owners of property in England to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by contributing to the cost of the works for primary and secondary improvements (more on those later).

Recent analysis by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit found that two-thirds of homes in the UK fail on energy efficiency targets. EPCs grade homes from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient, but the BBC’s audit of the grades given to more than 19.6 million homes found that over 60% fell into Grade D or below.

So this blog is all about giving you clarity over whether you qualify to make a claim, what you can claim for, how much money is available to you, and whether it's worth your consideration.


WHO CAN CLAIM?
The Green Homes Grant is available to most owners of residential and domestic property in England, whether for your own residence, or for a rental investment that you own as a landlord. Leasehold and freehold properties are covered, as well as those in shared ownership.

There’s no limit on the value of your property or on your income: the grants are allocated based on the energy efficiency requirement of individual properties, with between 600,000 and 650,000 homes expected to be covered.

The grant is paid as a voucher and covers two thirds of the cost of improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000.


WHAT’S THE TIMESCALE?

The Green Homes Grant has been open for applications since the end of September this year, so you can submit yours immediately.

The deadline for completion of works is March 31st 2021, sharing the same deadline as the end of the Stamp Duty holiday.

Theoretically this leaves you plenty of time to get your application in and to arrange for tradespeople to carry out the works, but the scheme is proving popular and there are already reports of participating contractors being fully booked.

Around 1,000 contractors are involved so far and more are being added, but it seems wise to get your application in now in case a queue develops, which could leave people who wait until next year to be left quite literally out in the cold.


HOW DOES IT WORK?
To check if your property is eligible for the Green Homes Grant, log on to the official website at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme

You’ll be asked a number of questions about your property including:

  • Type of home
  • Age of construction
  • Details of any insulation
  • Heating and hot water information
  • How many external walls you have

Once you’ve answered you’ll be given the options for the energy improvements that are open to you, from where you can build a plan for the works you’d like to carry out. As you build your plan the estimated costs of the works will be shown, along with the investment required from you. The plan can be downloaded as a PDF or sent to you via email for you to refer back to or amend later on.

Now that you have your plan, the Government suggests getting a minimum of three quotes from different contractors, although you’ll only be asked for one when you apply for the grant. The contractor you choose MUST be registered with TrustMark or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, and you can find registered contractors near to you on the official website.

When you apply, you’ll need to supply the following information:

the name and date of birth of the property owner(s)
a quote for the works being carried out
the contractor’s TrustMark licence number.

If your application is successful your voucher will be emailed to you. To qualify for payment you cannot begin any work before receiving your voucher, and you must supply an invoice once the work is complete. The Government will then pay the value of the voucher directly to the contractor.


WHAT CAN YOU CLAIM FOR?
There are two categories of energy efficiency improvements you can claim for: primary and secondary. The Green Homes Grant can be put towards the cost of both, but you must have at least one primary measure installed, and the amount you can receive for any secondary improvements is capped at the grant you receive for primary works. You can only claim for secondary improvements after the primary ones are complete.

The Government has said it will begin issuing vouchers from the beginning of November and here’s a rundown of what each category covers:


PRIMARY

  • insulation
  • solid wall insulation (internal or external)
  • cavity wall insulation
  • under-floor insulation (solid floor, suspended floor)
  • loft insulation
  • flat roof insulation
  • pitched roof insulation
  • room in roof insulation
  • insulating a park home
  • low carbon heat
  • air source heat pump
  • ground source heat pump
  • solar thermal (liquid filled flat plate or evacuated tube collector)
  • biomass boiler
  • hybrid heat pump

SECONDARY

  • windows and doors
  • draught proofing
  • double or triple glazing (where replacing single glazing)
  • secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
  • energy efficient replacement doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
  • heating controls and insulation
  • hot water tank thermostat
  • hot water tank insulation
  • heating controls (such as, appliance thermostats, smart heating controls, zone controls, intelligent delayed start thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves)


WILL IMPROVEMENTS ADD VALUE?
Almost certainly. Buyers often ask to see energy bills which, when taken with Energy Performance Certificates, form part of their decision when choosing a property as their next home.

It's no longer just about the mortgage or service charge, which means people will pay less for a property that requires expenditure and works to reflect modern lifestyles and consciousness. So if your home has poor insulation or an outdated heating system, these will certainly be noted on your Energy Performance Certificate and flagged as areas of higher running costs and potential works for the next owner.

Showing that you’ve invested in your property sends good signals to buyers, so even if you're not considering a move just yet, improving the energy efficiency of your home is a sound investment for the future. And if your energy consumption drops, so will your utility bills, giving you immediate and lasting financial benefits for as long as you are there.

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