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Are There Free Boiler Schemes?

Author: Jack Lloyd
Updated: Oct 18, 2023
6 minutes read
  • Get a free boiler through ECO4
  • Companies must replace 35,000 boilers per year for free
  • Estimated 1.8 million tonnes of CO₂e saved

Paying out for a new boiler can end up costing thousands of pounds. To some that can be an inconvenience but to others it can be an unimaginable expense. If the thought of a payment like that is impossible to you, there’s a possibility you might qualify for the government’s free boiler scheme, ECO4.

ECO4 helps people in England, Scotland and Wales who need assistance with their energy bills. It’s also great for the environment, as it helps create more energy efficient homes. Find out if you qualify for a free boiler by reading this article.

Heat engineer adjusting temperature on the boiler control panel

What Are Free Boiler Schemes?

A free boiler scheme is a programme that helps people obtain a free or subsidised boiler. They are usually accessible to households who are at an economic disadvantage, possibly suffering from fuel or energy poverty.

The main scheme is the government's Energy Companies Obligation (ECO4), with the objective to make suppliers promote measures to improve the ability of low income, fuel poor and vulnerable households to heat their homes.

There are other free boiler schemes available that aim to help households meet their energy requirements. These are run by the companies themselves to help their customers.

Here’s a list of some of the funds that may be available to you.

Free Boiler Schemes and Grants

  • ECO4

  • British Gas free boiler scheme

  • ScottishPower Hardship Fund

  • OVO Energy Fund

  • E.ON Energy Fund

If you don't qualify for a free boiler through any of these schemes, the interactive graph below shows you how much a replacement boiler could end up costing you. Depending on whether it's an easy job or a much bigger one, it could be anything from £1,500 to over £5,000. With costs like these, it's worth seeing if you qualify for a free boiler.

What Is The Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

ECO is a boiler replacement scheme run by the government.

It helps homeowners on low incomes or those claiming benefits by instructing energy companies to offer free boiler replacements.

Since launching in 2013, ECO has helped cut carbon emissions in more than 850,000 homes.

Due to installing modern, energy efficient gas models, ECO not only enables people to receive better heating but reduces the amount of energy being used.

ECO4, the latest version of the initiative, started in July 2022 and is due to finish on 31st March 2026. It replaced the previous ECO3 scheme.

The scheme is made up entirely of the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO).

It is a policy that pushes large energy suppliers to replace or upgrade failing heating systems in households that are economically at a disadvantage.

The free boiler scheme requires suppliers to provide any or all of the following to people who qualify, at a free or heavily discounted rate:

  • Wall insulation

  • Loft insulation

  • Gas boiler replacement

Companies are obligated to replace the equivalent of up to 35,000 heating systems per year, 15% of which should be in rural areas.

The scheme is no longer allowed to fit any home with a boiler that uses coal. By removing coal-based boilers along with insulation being fitted, the government aims to save 1.8 million tonnes of CO₂e (carbon dioxide equivalent) with other free boilers.

You can read all you need to know about domestic boilers here.

Can I Get a Free Boiler?

As long as you meet the requirements designed to help the people who need it most then you can get a free boiler through schemes such as ECO4. The best boilers in 2023 gives you an idea about what's the best on the market.

However, if you do not fit the requirements, you can still benefit from getting a new boiler as it will save you hundreds over the appliance's lifespan.

Just enter a few details to get a free boiler quote from one of our trusted experts.

How Do I Qualify For Free Boiler Schemes?

There are a few ways you can qualify for free boiler schemes. One is if you are part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme. You can search for a qualifying benefit in the following table.

Who Supplies Free Boilers?

It will be the energy company's job to supply you with your new, free boiler.

Once the energy company has enough customers and supplies them with a required level of gas and electricity, the energy company is then made to enter into the free boiler scheme under ECO4.

The regulator, Ofgem, then calculates the target that a business must reach and companies are compelled to supply people with new boilers, either for free or a heavily subsidised price until they meet their target.

Can Energy Companies Receive Penalties For Missing Targets?

Yes. The government can inflict financial penalties of up to 10% of a licensee’s turnover. An example being Utilita Energy, which was fined £175,000 after failing to meet carbon emission reduction obligations.

The money was then put into the Energy Redress scheme, which is a fund created by Energy Saving Trust. This gives charities money to help economically disadvantaged households meet their energy needs.

Pros and Cons of ECO4

Pros

  • Enables people that are at an economical disadvantage get better, free boilers

  • Forces energy companies to comply

  • Benefits the environment by improving homes energy efficiency

  • Energy companies will be fined if they miss targets and funds received are there to help customers

  • Easy to find out if you’re eligible

Cons

  • Not always guaranteed to be free for customers

  • Only applicable to those that are the most economically challenged

Alternative Government Schemes That Help With Energy Bills

Winter Fuel Payment

Instead of a free boiler, you might qualify for funds to help heat your home. If you were born on or before 26th September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.

You should receive your Winter Fuel Payment automatically but if you think you haven’t and consider yourself eligible then you can also apply manually.

Cold Weather Payment

The Cold Weather Payment is where the government may give you £25 for each week between the start of November and the end of March. This is on the basis that there are seven consecutive days which are zero degrees Celsius or below.

If you receive any of the following:

  • Pension Credit

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Universal Credit

Apply for the Cold Weather Payment here.

Warm Home Discount

If you're a pensioner or live in a low-income home, you may qualify for the Warm Home Discount which is a one-off £140 discount on your electricity bill between September and March.

You can still receive your Cold Weather or Winter Fuel payment.

If you’d prefer to get a discount on your gas bill instead, you can do as long as the same company supplies you with gas and electricity. You should contact your supplier if you’d like it switched.

Affordable Warmth Obligation (AWO)

There’s also the AWO, which is the same as the ECO scheme.

ECO used to be made up of two parts: the AWO which focuses on providing warmth to underprivileged homes and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) which focuses on what it says in the title.

Unfortunately, CERO was dropped from the programme in 2018 by the government, making the focus solely on ECO. So now AWO and ECO are one and the same.

Alternative Schemes From Energy Companies

If you are not eligible for the free boiler schemes, there are energy companies that are happy to help people without being prompted by the government and in some cases, you don’t even have to be a customer with that supplier.

Depending on which energy company you’re with, you may be able to seek help elsewhere other than the ECO.

British Gas

The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust set up to support families and individuals who are struggling to pay their bills across England.

Regardless of whether you’re a British Gas customer or not, the trust might be able to offer you a grant to clear your electricity or gas debts.

To qualify for help, here are the requirements:

  • Have received financial advice before applying

  • Have an income below £13,260 per year

  • Demonstrate vulnerabilities within the household

ScottishPower

The ScottishPower Hardship Fund will provide assistance to customers who are struggling with energy debt because they have low household income.

In addition to your application, you need to provide ScottishPower with:

  • A meter reading taken on the day of or close to the date of your application

  • Evidence of your income in the past three months

  • Proof that you’ve received financial or debt advice from a recognised agency like National Debtline, Citizens Advice, or StepChange Debt Charity

The company then typically clears 65% of your energy debt.

OVO Energy

The OVO Energy Fund will offer one-off payments of different amounts to customers who need to get out of energy debt.

The requirements are:

  • You are a current or previous OVO Energy customer

  • You have debt of at least £150 on your gas or electricity

  • You have an annual household income of £16,190 or less

  • You have a legitimate reason like being a pensioner, receiving disability allowance, or having a terminal illness

OVO Energy says that whether you are or aren’t eligible, you can call 0800 069 9831 if you’re having money troubles or in debt to help figure out a payment plan together.

E.ON

The E.ON Energy Fund might be able to assist in paying your current or final E.ON bills, and could fix or replace your white goods or boiler for you.

You need to be at least £50 in debt to apply for the fund.

Application requirements:

  • Financial stability

  • Willingness to pay energy bills

  • If any of these apply to you: benefits, medical conditions, or pensions.

  • Financial advice from an FCA-approved agency over the past four weeks

  • Household income for the current tax year

SSE

If you’re an SSE customer who’s having trouble paying a bill you can call 0345 026 2658.

SSE provides energy debt relief and pays for customers’ white goods during certain points of the year - so it’s worth noting that this isn’t available all of the time.

SSE can also help with the following:

  • Spread your debt across multiple repayments

  • Installing a free energy meter

  • Allow you to pay for your energy debt with your benefits, as long as you receive one of the following: income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit

Summary

It’s great to see free boiler schemes and the government enforcing targets to larger energy companies that not only help people all over the UK to get cheaper energy bills but free boilers.

If it sounds like you’re eligible, you should apply for free boiler schemes like the ECO4 and get the help you deserve.

Alternatively, get a quote for a boiler by filling in our form.