Labour has announced a policy to invest £2.3 billion in to installing insulation in low-income households across the UK
What is Labour’s energy policy?
In a word, the Labour energy policy is radical. Jeremy Corbyn has long been an advocate of green energy, and as a leader he is certainly taking a strong party stance on the matter. Labour wants to fight climate change, create more local power grids, and bring down energy costs. One of the ways they propose to do this is by nationalising local grid companies. Another way is by investing some serious money in fixing up low-efficiency homes for low-income families. This would cut energy bills for those in need, see greenhouse gases reduced, and alleviate the strain on the UK energy industry. This is desperately needed as we’re currently in the middle of an energy crisis in this country with no clear way out.
There are several schemes attached to the aim of improving efficiency and reducing energy consumption. These cover grants, zero-interest loans, and project funding. Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said: “Our ambitious insulation plan will see the next Labour government take real action against fuel poverty, making homes cheaper to heat, improving people’s health by improving our housing, creating new jobs and reducing carbon emissions.”
Can I get free insulation?
The problem with energy efficiency is that energy saving measures can be costly, and generally those that need them don’t have the spare cash. If someone is paying a huge electricity bill every month then they’re not going to have any money left to spend on insulating, so their costs will stay high and their efficiency will stay low. One in ten households in the UK are thought to be in fuel poverty.
This is why labour is specifically targeting low income families and homes; it stops the cycle, gives people a chance to save money on bills, and reduces our national energy consumption too.
At the moment this is all very theoretical. These policies come from Labour’s shadow cabinet and remain out of reach at least until the next election.
That’s not to say nothing is happening at the moment though. Under Theresa May, the Ofgem Safeguard Tariff was recently extended to benefit 1 million more people than before. Although this spreads the funding more thinly, it still provides much needed assistance to vulnerable people that could otherwise find themselves crippled by energy costs.
How do I get free insulation?
At the moment though, your best bet is to look into getting free insulation under the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) scheme.
The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is a government scheme set up in 2013 to replace the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP). That’s a lot of acronyms that sound very impressive but essentially do quite a basic job – helping the UK reduce energy usage. The ECO obliges any energy company over a certain size to offer grants to improve the energy efficiency of low performing households and low income families. According to the UK government, around 1.6m homes had energy efficiency measures installed between 2013 and 2016 as part of ECO.
Figuring out if you’re eligible for ECO is frustratingly complicated. It takes into account what improvements your home needs, where you live, the level of carbon or cost savings made and if you receive any benefits. It’s complicated and more than a little bureaucratic, but if you qualify then you could find yourself in for a much warmer winter next year. Unfortunately, the complexity makes it pretty difficult to be able to outright list those who are eligible; the best way to find out if you’re entitled to an ECO grant is to get directly in touch with your energy supplier or even another provider that you don’t belong to – unless stated otherwise they should still be able to help. ECO legislation means that if you qualify for the scheme then they are compelled to facilitate it.
- E.on – available to all. Apply via E.on’s site – you have to apply for cavity wall insulation first and request loft insulation on top during your free home survey. If you’re on benefits, you can also apply for loft insulation on its own through this E.on link instead.
- Npower – available to all. 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. Check EDF’s site. You can apply for either loft insulation 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.