Discussion: How's the ECO scheme gone for you?

This report in the Guardian on March 22nd points out that the government’s home insulation scheme has not been a success so far.

Some of you may be aware that Bulb participates in the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) government scheme to help fund the installation of energy efficient features in members’ homes. Its aim is to give people better control over their energy and help lower their household costs, too. The government estimated that these measures could reduce annual energy bills by £200 for some of the poorest households, and improve on some of the government’s past attempts to implement insulation programmes.

ECO is one part of a £3bn package of green investment announced by the government last year. Early critics pointed out £3bn is significantly less than other European governments have committed to green energy measures, and won’t be enough to keep pace with the climate crisis.

MPs in the environmental audit committee have said the home insulation scheme was rushed and has suffered from poor organisation and implementation. The report states there were more than 123,000 applications for the grant by the end of February.Only 28,000 vouchers have been issued, and only 5,800 households have actually had the energy-saving measures installed.

Builders due to carry out the work complained that the process is too bureaucratic and difficult for homeowners. While the government has blamed the failures on the pandemic, pointing out that people are less likely to want tradespeople in their homes for these installations to take place.

The environmental audit committee has called for the scheme to be overhauled, and any unspent money to be rolled over to make the scheme more viable.

We’d love to know if you have any experience with these grants, or if you have any thoughts on how the government can effectively implement energy-efficiency schemes to ensure a greener future.

I hadn’t heard of the ECO scheme until now, but that seems mostly sensible (not something that can be relied on from governments of late), except that the heating “upgrades” seem unsuitable (storage heaters are and always were rubbish, and supporting new GCH seems odd given the desire to kill off gas use).

I would have been interested in the greener home (?) scheme, but simply couldn’t go at the speed it required (work completed by 31/3/2021!).

IMHO, too often these are short-term schemes that are rushed out, made over-complicated to operate and then hurriedly cancelled (or that expire before you’ve even found out they exist). They need to avoid those pitfalls.

Its a shame schemes like ECO aren’t pushed more as they can be really useful in getting people the help they need. I managed to get ECO sorted for my parents, and while it was an absolute faff, once it was done it was definitely worth it. It feels like they try to make it so complex and hard to understand so people are put off from taking advantage - which feels totally against the point?

I read that in some homes 60% of energy can be lost through lack of insulation, which is such a waste of energy. As it really fits in with Bulbs ethos of a greener world, are you pushing to make these grants more accessible and easy to get so ?

Hey @stevefoster and @imogenjames,

Thanks for getting involved in the discussion!

Seems like we all agree that these schemes aren’t doing all they need to have the biggest impact possible. We need to be acting fast and on a wide scale if we want to hit net zero targets, and efficient homes could hold the key to this.

It is hard to deliver a project when there are conflicting interests or funding issues, but this is definitely something that needs to happen one way or another. Who do you think the responsibility falls on for improving energy efficiency in homes? Is it homeowners, suppliers, the government, businesses or another party?

All the best,
Georgie