boiler

A guide to central heating & boiler grants

Before we talk about the boiler replacement costs we should discuss why you will want to replace a boiler and what benefit a replacement boiler gives to its owner.

The UK government has set up a free boiler replacement scheme to attempt to reduce the United Kingdom’s carbon footprint and to reduce the incidence of fuel poverty amongst the poorest of the UK’s inhabitants. It is a fact that the poorest inhabitants are those who, because they aren’t able to afford a new and efficient boiler themselves must continue to use an old and inefficient heating system, with the increases in fuel consumption, costs and increased carbon footprint that such a heating system carries with it.

The idea of the free boiler service is to target those who live in their own homes, social housing and private rentals and who qualify for certain government benefits. It offers them the chance to have an interest free boiler replacement as well as repairs and other upgrades to their existing heating system to bring it compatible with modern requirements. In addition, they may also qualify for help with the cost of loft and cavity wall insulation, but this is outside the scope of this article.

Are you eligible for a free boiler replacement?

The UK Government’s Affordable Warmth Obligation offers ways for householders, including those living in rented accommodation, to make their homes more energy efficient in general, including the cost of repairing or replacing a boiler to bring it up to the modern energy efficiency standards. It isn’t just the tenants and householders who are being subsidised with this scheme, private landlords with low-income tenants may also be eligible to receive help too.

If you, as a tenant live in a social housing property that has an energy efficiency rating of E,F or G you may be able to get finance to help with the purchase, and installing a modern heating system. The Energy Performance Certificate Register (EPCR) is there to help you find out your property’s energy efficiency rating. If you find it too complicated to use then you can ask your Housing Association or landlord. The Simple Energy Advice website is there to give advice on all kinds of energy efficiency improvements from simple draughtproofing to having a new boiler installed to installing cavity wall insulation. It will also give information on the type of home energy grants that are available to help with heating costs and the cost of installing equipment.

So who is paying for this?

The country’s largest boiler manufacturers have developed innovative new designs to make boilers more energy efficient, while the energy suppliers have agreed to install free boilers for tenants and homeowners that cannot afford to buy their own. Most of the boilers will be completely free to eligible householders and landlords and they will be under no obligation to pay back their boiler replacement grants.

Landlord Boiler Cover

This free boiler scheme for landlords isn’t all about handing out free boilers for landlords and Housing Associations, although a free new boiler is a great perk and a really useful improvement to their property. The scheme’s main purpose is to provide cheap and economical heating for the landlord’s low-income families.

The landlord will still have to have his equipment insured and they must still have the new boilers checked and maintained at their own expense,  just like the old ones.

There are many different insurance policies that deal with a landlord’s boiler and heating cover and a lot of these incorporate the standard landlord’s building insurance as well. Money Super Market lists the policies available that have the best boiler cover on the market. They range from about £5 per month right up to about £20 per month and their benefits vary with the price. It is up to the landlord to look at these and find other quotations before he or she makes up their own mind about which policy to buy. The landlord can, of course, contact his existing building insurance company to find out if there is an ‘add-on’ to his existing insurance that will do the same job.

Other boiler costs for a landlord

The basic boiler insurance cover mentioned previously will cover various items depending on the terms of the cover, but basically, it is about looking after the boiler in the event of a breakdown and compensating for any damage done as a cause of the breakdown. As well as holding insurance for their brand new boiler, the other costs applicable will be the price of having the boiler maintained by a qualified technician plus any spare parts needed to give compliance with the landlord’s obligations under the existing tenancy regulations. Remember that not all boilers are the same. Some are worse and some better than others, which means that they will all last for varying amounts of time before they start to need repair and maintenance and subsequent spare parts. No-one in the UK is allowed to work on a gas boiler (in fact on any boiler) unless they are properly qualified and trained. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the technician’s qualifications are adequate for the work. Remember that a new boiler is an expensive piece of equipment and just because you received it for free under the new boiler scheme doesn’t mean that you can forget about maintenance. The landlord is still under an obligation to ensure the boiler is kept regularly serviced and looked after. It is better for continuity if the landlord chooses an installation company who will install the boiler and then offer additional maintenance and servicing for the life of the appliance. This will ensure that the boiler is maintained consistently and that the technicians who are charged with the boiler’s maintenance know the machine’s history and what its idiosyncrasies are.

Complaints with installation work

If there are any complaints with the installation of the heating system paid for by the landlord boiler scheme, the landlord must first contact the installation company who initially carried out the work. Conversely, if you own your own home then you will have to contact the installer yourself. If there is no joy at this level, then contact the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline. The Citizen’s Advice helpline advisor can help with the following

  • Giving practical help and impartial advice to help resolve the problem.
  • Advise on which law is applicable to your situation and how the law is being broken.
  • Passing on information about your problem to the local Trading Standards Office who will then take the situation further (unfortunately you cannot contact Trading Standards yourself).
  • Advise you on how to go about making a complaint to the installation contractor and the specific wording that needs to be written into the letter.
  • They cannot make the complaint for you, only give advice.
  • They cannot take legal action for you. They can, however, give advice on how to go about contacting the Small Claims Court and suing the other party for compensation. Remember that the Citizen’s Advice organisation is no substitute for a properly trained legal advisor.

To Finish

It is very important in these days of impending climate change that everyone does their bit to help reduce our carbon footprint. Even if you don’t think of yourself as particularly ‘Green’, you will be interested in reducing the cost of your own energy bills or those of the people that mean a lot to you such as elderly parents or grandparents. The easiest way to reduce the costs of your domestic heating is to update the type of heating system you have. Unfortunately, this can be very expensive and not always within the reach of those on a low income or who receive certain benefits because of poor health, age or vulnerability. It is these people who have been targeted by the UK government and who are being helped by the Affordable Warmth Obligation with the assistance of the main energy providers. Luckily those being helped are not just those people who own their own homes,  social housing associations and private landlords are also being helped to install new and updated heating systems for the benefit of their tenants.  Although the latest phase of the  Affordable Warmth Obligation is aimed more towards those who have gas central heating, there is a scheme to help those with mainly electrical systems as well. The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a way for consumers to receive £140 credited towards their electricity bill for the 2018 to 2019 winter (One assumes that it will continue to operate at least into next year and the year after).  Once again in order to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, you will need to be eligible for certain government benefits or be on a low income.

If you believe that you should be eligible for any of the help mentioned on this page, whether you own your own home or are a tenant in social housing or a private rental, look on the links supplied in this article, look on the UK Government website, contact the Citizen’s Advice or contact your landlord. It will not only benefit the climate but also may benefit your pocket by reducing your monthly heating bills.

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