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Going 'eco' or 'green'?

Government initiatives designed to help consumers purchase and install carbon-saving solutions and decarbonise heat in our homes.

There are a number of government initiatives designed to help consumers purchase and install carbon-saving solutions and decarbonise heat in our homes, two of which are the Energy Company Obligation 3 scheme (ECO 3) and the recently-unveiled Green Homes Grant (GHG). What are the differences between the two, and what do you need to know and do in order to generate business opportunities from these schemes? Martin Wilson, sales director at Resideo, takes a closer look.

There are a range of funding programmes available to support consumers with making their properties more energy-efficient, two of which are the ECO 3 scheme and the Green Homes Grant. They are very different in terms of how they work, who and what solutions qualify for funding, and how they are administered.

ECO 3

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO), first introduced in 2013, places legal obligations on larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic premises. Each obligated supplier has an overall target based on its share of the domestic energy market in Britain. It is intended to assist vulnerable consumer groups in reducing carbon emissions, maintaining security of energy supply and tackling fuel poverty. Under a new obligation which was brought in in 2018, the scheme entered into a new phase - ECO3 – which will run until March 2022.

Who and which solutions qualify?

Those who are in receipt of certain benefits, or live in social housing properties with an EPC band of E,F or G, are eligible for ECO funding.

How much funding they can receive depends on the type of property in question, how it’s currently heated, other existing energy-efficiency measures, and the solutions to be installed. Using all of this information, the amount of funding available for a property is calculated. Because there have been a number of changes to the calculation methodology and which types of installations qualify throughout different phases of the scheme, there has been some confusion about the type of heating controls that can be installed as part of an ECO3 upgrade.

When installing first time central heating (FTCH), standard heating controls with a programmer, room thermostat and TRVs on all the radiators outside the room with the thermostat, or a timer and individual networked radiator controls in each room, can be used as long as they comply with the Building Regulations. This means that the Honeywell Home T4 and T3 series of programmable thermostats can both be considered alongside its TRVs for ECO3-funded installations.

The Honeywell Home T3 series provide sophisticated, automatic control of domestic heating systems, with optimum stop, start and delayed stop functions that learn how the room is heated and regulate start up and cool down periods for greater control of comfort levels. The T4 series is available in three models: all of which have 7 day 5/2 day & single day programming with a host of features making the T4 the best choice for a simple solution.

Smart thermostats that are in line with the latest Boiler Plus Guidance can also be fitted under the scheme. They must be able to automatically adjust time and temperature settings based on occupancy detection and/or information inputted by the user, and start the boiler at the optimum time to achieve the setpoint temperature at the start of the occupancy period. Whilst there is no single definition of smart technology, products installed must also enable consumers to remotely set and adjust their home temperature via a tablet, smartphone or desktop to be considered a smart thermostat for the purposes of ECO3.

The Honeywell Home T6 and evohome system both enable users to control their heating at home via smartphone or tablet. The T6 works with any boiler and application, offering integration into almost every heating system. The products control boilers and systems using TPI or modulating control, delivering superior energy efficiency without user interaction.

evohome is a sophisticated heating system that ensures users can create and individually control up to 12 heating zones in their homes. evohome will also control domestic hot water, and is ideal for large family homes. Because multiple temperature sensing devices can be installed around the property, different zones can be created without altering existing pipework, disrupting décor or damaging fixtures and fittings.

Green Homes Grant

Rather than placing a legal obligation on energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to low-income households, the Green Homes Grant provide a voucher up to the value of £5,000 to cover the cost of qualifying energy efficiency improvements to the applicant’s home. If the homeowner is on a low income and receive certain benefits, the voucher’s maximum value increases to £10,000.

The voucher must be used to install at least one of the primary measures. This can be insulation and/or a low carbon heating solution. Only then can the voucher be used to help cover the cost of a secondary measure such as heating controls. The amount of funding a homeowner receives for the controls cannot exceed the amount provided for the primary measures.

Who can carry out the work

To carry out work under either of these schemes, all installers and businesses will need to be certified to relevant PAS (Publicly Available Specification) standards such as PAS: 2030, and to register their certification with TrustMark. Businesses do not register directly with TrustMark, registration can only be obtained through a Scheme Provider who inspects, verifies and certifies the PAS standard. Being part of TrustMark comes with many benefits, so if you are not already Trustmark registered, now’s the time to think about getting this sorted.

Government grants designed to stimulate demand for energy-saving solutions will help to increase the amount of work available for heating and plumbing businesses. By understanding how these grants work, you can advise your customers accordingly, generate income for your business and help the country to meet its net-zero target.