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Free Insulation and Boilers

Incl free £600+ insulation

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Martin | Edited by Steve N

Updated Monthly

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, how to apply - and what to watch out for.

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 £16,190 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 up to around £1,100 combined, but make sure it's right for you – 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. Not all suppliers offer it as freebie though, some provide grants and discounts instead.

The offer usually includes fitting, though there may be an extra cost if an engineer needs to carry out extra work – for example, if you need new or additional pipe work. 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 £16,190 and...

  • 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 or boiler grant 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, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0808 808 22 82 (Scotland).

How do I get a free boiler?

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

If you apply, we'd love to hear your free or subsidised boiler experiences.

What's offered by each provider?

How much can you save?

The Energy Saving Trust say heating accounts for about 60% 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 £300/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 up to £1,100 and can slice up to £450 off energy bills each year, and energy firms are offering them free as long as you meet certain eligibility criteria - but make sure it's right for your home.

  • Cavity wall insulation. Most homes built since 1920 have a gap between internal and external walls. In most homes, filling the cavity with insulating mineral wool and foam means cold air's kept out, and warm air stays in - but it's not for all.

  • 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.

Cavity wall insulation ISN'T right for everyone

Installed properly and in appropriate properties, cavity wall insulation can improve energy efficiency and cut home heating bills. Yet there has been a catalogue of horror stories of major damp and mould problems emerging after installation - with claims it's cost some £1,000s to fix, and even impacted their health.

A 2016 report by the Building Research Establishment looking at cavity wall insulation in Wales - where many problems have been reported - concluded there is evidence it's been poorly installed or installed in unsuitable properties in some cases.

Problems seem to be concentrated on the west side of the country, including in south-west England, the west of Wales and north-west England and Scotland. These areas are known to be particularly unsuitable for cavity wall insulation because of severe exposure to 'wind-driven rain'.

If you're considering cavity wall insulation, it's vital to first check that it's suitable for your home.

Quick questions:

How can I check if cavity wall insulation is right for my home?

What can I do if I have problems with my insulation?

Why has cavity wall insulation been installed inappropriately?

Who can get this?

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

You may not 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 can 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, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0808 808 2282 (Scotland).

How do I get free insulation?

Just call a provider for a free assessment. Here's a list of the big six providers that offer free insulation - you DON'T need to be a customer with the firm to get its insulation unless stated:

  • E.on - available to all. It's not just those on benefits, though you and your home will have to meet its eligibility criteria. Apply via E.on's* site - you'll have to apply for cavity wall insulation first, and then if you want loft insulation as well you can request this during your free home survey. If you're on benefits, you can also apply for loft insulation on its own - go via this E.on link instead.

  • Npower - available to all. It's not just those on benefits, though you and your home will have to meet its eligibility criteria. Check this on Npower's site. If not on benefits, you can get cavity wall insulation, or both cavity wall and loft insulation if installed at the same time. Those on benefits can apply for loft insulation on its own.

  • EDF - only available to EDF customers. It's not just for those on benefits, though you and your home will have to meet its eligibility criteria - check EDF's site. You can apply for either loft or cavity wall insulation, or both - whether you're on benefits or not.

  • SSE - only available to those on certain benefits. See its full eligibility criteria or fill out an online enquiry form. You can apply for either loft or cavity wall insulation, or both.

How much can you save?

The Energy Saving Trust reckons cavity insulation typically costs up to £720 to install (including building work), and can save between £70 and £250 per year, depending on your home. Loft insulation costs up to £400 and can save between £130 and £220 a year.

Quick questions:

Could I be rejected?

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

    Locking in with a cheap fix is one way to avoid higher price, and cut your costs – 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 £25 cashback 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 insulating your chimney to notching down the thermostat. Here are a few thrifty ways to keep your home toasty.

    Make your own sausage dog draught excluder

    Stuff your chimney

    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. See if a smart thermostat can save you

    Smart thermostats can also help some save on their energy bills. These gadgets give you greater control over your home's heating, letting you adjust it on the move via a mobile app or online, and set more complicated heating schedules than your traditional thermostat.

    They can be pricey though, so see the Smart Thermostats guide to check if they're right for you.

  4. 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, you can also check the cost of the cheapest dual fuel supplier against separate cheap gas and cheap electricity suppliers by using the 'Fuel Type' filter options in Cheap Energy Club.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    You can also check with your supplier to see if you can get a free smart meter, which sends automatic meter readings to your supplier - so no more estimated bills. For more, see our Smart Meters guide.
  7. Switch to your company's online tariff

    It'll usually save you up to 7% over the standard tariff, and all it really means is you get your bills emailed.

  8. 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.

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out