What is ECO?

The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is a government scheme requiring some energy providers to provide grants for households to install measures in order for them to boost their energy efficiency and lower their energy bills.

Energy poverty – not being able to afford to heat your home to a comfortable level – is a rising problem in the UK. Cold and damp can have adverse effects on health, as well as being pretty miserable to live with. ECO is the Government’s plan to tackle the issue.

If you’re on certain benefits and own or privately rent your home, you might be able to get financial help for making energy-saving improvements to your home. Fairly simple – but often expensive – changes such as a new boiler or installing loft insulation can make a big difference to the thermal comfort of a property, and also to energy bills.

The scheme has now been extended until September 2018. The 2017-2018 phase (beginning 1st April) is known as ECO2t, and it differs from the last incarnation in a few ways.

What has changed in the latest ECO format?

The ‘Affordable Warmth’ aspect of ECO will now cover 70% of installations – and tackling fuel poverty will continue to be the biggest aim. ECO2t is made up of two parts:

  1. CERO – obligated suppliers must promote ‘primary measures’, inc. roof and wall insulation and connections to district heating systems. The new scheme will prioritise low-income households and those in rural areas.
  2. HHCRO – suppliers must promote measures which improve the ability of low income and vulnerable households to heat their homes, i.e. heating savings from replacing or repairing boilers.

The last phase of ECO centred heavily on boilers, but the main focus will now turn to insulation. The hope is that making people’s homes more efficient will save people money on their energy bills, and leave them less reliant on heating to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature.

Which energy installers are legally obliged to provide measures under ECO?

Energy suppliers are legally obliged to install measures under ECO if they have more than 250,000 domestic customers, or if they generate more than 400 gigawatt hours of electricity or more than 2,000 gigawatt hours of gas.

You can find out more about ECO here.