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Free Insulation and Boilers

Incl free £700 insulation

There are a lot of freebies on offer from energy providers if your home qualifies, from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation.

This guide shows how to grab these crocks of gold, including current offers, who can get them and how to apply.

What can you get?

"Free stuff" – we're talking £1,000s worth – is a sexier phrase than "Energy Company Obligations (ECO) scheme", but they're the same thing. Generally, freebies are only for people who get tax credits and have an income of £16,010 or less, or those who are receiving certain benefits such as pension credit. Many big energy providers are giving away:

  • Boilers: typically costing up to £2,300, you could get one free if you satisfy providers criteria – full info.

  • Loft and cavity wall insulation: worth around £700. British Gas offers it to all, regardless of income or whether you are its customer – full info.

Quick questions:

Why do energy providers do this?

What options are there in Northern Ireland?

I rent my property – can I get the freebies?

I live in a flat. Am I still eligible?

Free boilers

A new boiler typically costs £2,300, according to the Energy Saving Trust, so this is a fabulous freebie. If your boiler isn't inefficient, just broken, you may be offered a repair rather than a new boiler.

The offer includes fitting, though there may be an extra cost if an engineer needs to carry out extra work – for example, if it needs moving or you need extra radiators. You should be told about this beforehand.

Who can get it?

You're likely to qualify if:

  • You get tax credits and have a household income of less than £16,010 or...

  • You receive income-based benefits, such as pension credit or income support, and you have children, a disabled person in the household, or are over 60.

You won't be able to get a free boiler if you live in a housing association property or are a council tenant. Instead, this will be arranged through their own schemes.

The criteria are complex, so a quick way to check if you qualify is to call the Energy Saving Trust advice service and answer a few basic questions on 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales), 0800 1422 865 (Northern Ireland) or 0808 808 22 82 (Scotland). Also see providers' criteria in How to get it.

How do I get a free boiler?

Just call a provider for a free assessment. You're free to pick any energy company offering the deal – you don't need to be a customer.

All deals are ongoing, with no limit on the number of free installations. If you apply, we'd love to hear your free boiler experiences.

What's offered by each provider?

How much can you save?

The Energy Saving Trust says boilers account for about 55% of what people spend each year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference. Depending on your boiler's age, a shiny new efficient one could save you up to £340/year.

It's likely new boilers are top of many homebuyers' wishlists, so this could boost your house price, too.

Quick questions

What kind of boiler do you need to have?

How long will it take?

Free loft and cavity wall insulation

Cavity wall and loft insulation is worth around £700 and can slice about £300 off energy bills each year, and energy firms are offering them free to certain groups.

  • Cavity wall insulation. Most homes built since 1920 have a gap between internal and external walls. Filling the cavity with insulating mineral wool and foam means cold air's kept out, and warm air stays in.

  • Loft insulation. Up to a quarter of your home's heat escapes through the roof, but you can solve this by laying mineral wool under the rafters.

Who can get this?

Some providers, such as British Gas, give insulation away to suitable homes regardless of income, while some require you to be receiving certain benefits such as pension credit. See providers' eligibility criteria below.

You won't be able to get free cavity wall and loft insulation if you live in a housing association property or are a council tenant. The idea is they will arrange to do this for you though their own schemes.

A quick way to check if you qualify is to call the Energy Saving Trust and answer a few basic questions on 0300 123 1234 (England), 0800 512 012 (Wales) or 0808 808 22 82 (Scotland).

How do I get free insulation?

Just call a provider for a free assessment. You're free to pick any provider – you don't need to be a customer. Below is a list of the big six providers that offer free insulation.

How much can you save?

The Energy Saving Trust reckons cavity insulation typically costs £400 to £500 to install (including building work), and can save an average three-bedroom home up to £160/year on its bills. Loft insulation costs about £300 and can save £140/year.

Quick questions:

Will my house be suitable for cavity wall insulation?

I don't qualify for free insulation, how can I get it cheaply?

Other ways to cut your energy bill

Also ensure you're on the cheapest energy tariff and do the energy-saving basics:

picture of money jar
  1. Consider fixing to beat price hikes

    Despite recent cuts to gas prices from all the big six, energy prices are up overall. Locking in with a cheap fix is one way to avoid future price hikes, and cut costs now – especially if you're on a standard tariff.

    Our Cheap Energy Club checks you're on the cheapest deal and handles the switch for you. Plus to encourage you, there's up to £30 extra if you switch via Cheap Energy Club.

    It's the same gas, the same electricity, the same safety. All that changes are the customer service and the price you pay. For more on this, plus top fixes, see our Cheap Gas & Electricity guide.

  2. Thrifty heat-saving tips

    If you wander round the house in boxers or bra 'n' knickers with radiators on full and windows wide open... STOP IT.

    Sensible changes can save you large, from draught excluders to notching down the thermostat. Here are a few thrifty ways to keep your home toasty.

    Make your own sausage dog draft excluder

    Line curtains with cheap fleece

    Keep doors closed

    Put shelves above radiators

    Don't leave the heating on low all day

    Put reflective panels behind radiators

    For more tips, join the Old Style forum board's Prepare for winter thread. Also see the Great Energy-Saving Hunt and our Energy Mythbusting guide. If you use heating oil to heat your home, you can save, too. Follow the simple steps in Cheap Heating Oil.

  3. Don't assume dual fuel is always cheapest

    Logically, dual fuel (gas and electricity from the same supplier) should be cheaper and it often is, yet not always.

    During your comparison, also check the cost of the cheapest dual fuel supplier against separate cheap gas and cheap electricity suppliers.

  4. Switch to monthly direct debit

    Fixed monthly direct debit payments, where you pay a fixed estimate each month, save you 5-10%, as companies are sure you won't default and they earn interest on any overpayments. These should be refunded at the end of the year.

  5. Do a meter reading every time

    Every time you receive a bill, do a meter reading. Don't rely on your energy provider's estimate, these are often way out. If they're underbilling, you'll have a big whack to pay when they get an actual reading. If they're overbilling, then they've unfairly got your cash.

    If your direct debit is way off-kilter, call up and request it's changed. You have a range of rights to ensure it's correct. See the full Energy Direct Debits guide for template letters.

  6. Switch to your company's internet tariff

    It'll usually save you up to 10% over the standard tariff, and all it really means is you get your bills emailed.

  7. Avoid prepayment meters if you can

    While a push from the Government means it's getting better, those on prepayment meters are still pretty hard done by compared with those who pay by direct debit. If possible, switch to a billed meter. You may have to pay for one, but the savings are usually worth it.

    Often, firms won't let you switch meters because of credit score or income difficulties. For full info on how to ditch a prepayment meter for a credit meter – or if you can't, how to save on a prepay meter – see the full Cheap Prepaid Gas & Electricity guide.