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Last updated: 3 June 2024

External Wall Insulation Grants: A UK Guide

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  • More than 7.7 million solid wall homes in the UK remain poorly uninsulated.
  • Qualifying households can get free external wall insulation through the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) or the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4).
  • Both nationwide grant schemes are accepting applicants until March 2026.

Uninsulated walls in UK homes are one of the bigger culprits behind the ongoing energy crisis. The Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency (SWIGA), estimates that a staggering 90% of solid wall properties in the UK remain uninsulated or under-insulated.

Uninsulated walls are responsible for more than 33% of home heat loss. This is reflected in whopping energy bills, damp drafty homes, and a huge carbon footprint exasperated by an overworked heating system. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the price tag of proper wall insulation, but that’s where wall insulation grants come into play. 

To reach Net Zero by 2050, the UK government is laser-focused on improving the energy efficiency of the national housing stock. A big way they are doing this is by introducing government grant schemes to help fuel-poor and low-income homes with efficiency upgrades, including free insulation or partial cost coverage. 

This complete guide by GreenMatch UK will dive into everything you need to know about external wall insulation grants, including qualifying criteria, provisions, and how to apply.

Ready to insulate your external walls? Look no further than GreenMatch UK to land the best bargains with the most professional installers. By filling out our simple 30-second form, you can receive up to 3 free home-tailored quotes straight from our nationwide network of accredited professionals. Click below to begin!

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What are the external wall insulation grants?

External wall insulation grants are financial assistance schemes to make external wall insulation more affordable and accessible for low-income, energy-inefficient and fuel-poor homes. Currently, the UK government backs two nationwide insulation grants; the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4)

The GBIS and ECO4 provide free or reduced-cost external wall insulation for qualifying households, amongst other insulation and home efficiency upgrades. Financial coverage on the cost of insulation depends on your circumstances and installation complexity. Low and mid-tier upgrades are normally fully covered, whilst complex high-tier upgrades may require a household contribution. 

Nonetheless, external wall insulation is a very effective long-term insulation upgrade that boosts the heat retention of your home, leading to more energy bill savings, fewer carbon emissions, and a much healthier planet overall.

Is external wall insulation worth it?

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External wall insulation, like any home insulation measure, is a game-changer for your home’s energy efficiency. With a wealth of benefits, here are just some of the key perks you could enjoy:

  • Energy bill savings: External wall insulation can impressively save a UK detached home up to £550 on its annual energy bills. That way, you can enjoy sky-high savings for decades to come.
  • Reduced carbon footprint: Alongside huge savings, external wall insulation reduces your home heat loss, cutting your home's CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 tonnes. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.
  • Healthier home: External wall insulation helps reduce inner moisture, dampness and draft in your home. As a result, your home has much less chance to foster mould growth, a key contributor to respiratory illnesses.
  • Higher property value: External wall insulation will help raise your home's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) score, making it far more attractive in the housing market for prospective buyers or renters.

With all things considered, insulating walls is a home efficiency upgrade that is sure to help you save money and help save the planet, all with one investment.

External wall insulation grants schemes

There are currently two nationwide grant schemes in the UK that provide government grants for external wall insulation. These are the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4)

Whilst providing full and partial cost coverage for external wall insulation, these schemes do not provide external insulation cladding grants, but just external wall insulation alone. Both schemes also have differences in their application methods, provisions and coverage.

The Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS)

The Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) is a government initiative to make home insulation upgrades more affordable and accessible for low-income, fuel-poor, and energy-inefficient homes throughout the UK. 

The scheme works by providing a single insulation measure per qualifying household, which is decided upon after a home assessment to determine the best course of action to boost a property's energy efficiency. 

The GBIS scheme provides a full range of home insulation upgrades, including free external wall insulation. Apply for the scheme by visiting the official UK government website and filling out the online application form.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO4)

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme is more of a legal demand placed upon energy providers throughout the UK that obliges them to create accessible options for domestic energy efficiency upgrades. 

Unlike the GBIS, the ECO4 takes a more whole-house approach to energy efficiency, providing a range of upgrades including energy system repairs, replacements, smart controls and more. 

The ECO4 also provides a wide range of home insulation upgrades, including free external wall insulation. To apply, contact your energy provider to learn more about qualifications, the application process, and the grants you may benefit from.

Eligibility for external wall insulation grants

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The eligibility criteria for the GBIS and ECO4 schemes are generally the same. This is because the UK government intends to make both schemes complementary to each other. 

There are slight differences in qualification criteria if you are a homeowner or home renter, but regardless, the main qualification criteria expected for external wall insulation are:

  • A gross annual income below £31,000.
  • Being a homeowner or landlord of a property.
  • Recipient of certain government benefits.
  • A property Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below E.

Low-income households (31K or less)

In the UK, the low-income threshold is generally understood to be around £31,000 or less. Therefore, homeowners with a (collective) gross annual income of less than £31,000 a year would be considered part of the Low-Income Group

This makes them eligible to benefit from a government grant scheme for external wall insulation.

Owning a property (Grants are only available to homeowners)

External wall insulation grants are only available to homeowners and property landlords. It’s technically possible to apply as a tenant, but you will need written permission from the landlord that allows for insulation work to be carried out on the property.

If you are applying as a private tenant, you must also make sure you meet certain qualification criteria. These are; being a recipient of government benefits, qualifying as a low-income individual, and residing in a property with an EPC rating below E.

Households that receive at least one benefit

For both the GBIS and ECO4 schemes, applicants who receive certain government benefits and allowances are considered eligible for benefits from exterior insulation grants. These benefits and allowances may indicate that an applicant is part of the Low-Income Group.

The current list of benefits and allowances that are considered eligible are:

  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Guarantee Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit

EPC rating of E, F or G

To qualify for free external insulation grants, your property must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. In the UK, landlords and homeowners are legally obliged to raise home efficiency to at least an E grade, in line with the UK’s goals of achieving Net Zero by 2050.

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a rating system that tells you the energy efficiency of a property. Properties are scored from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Heating upgrade

Specific to the ECO4 grant scheme, you will be required to qualify for a heating upgrade, or heating controls if you would like to get free external wall insulation. 

This is because the ECO4 scheme focuses on a more whole-house energy efficiency upgrade that combines various approaches to benefit you for years to come. 

You can apply for a heating upgrade with external wall insulation if you have main heating in your property that is via:

  • Electric Boiler
  • Non-Condensing Boiler
  • LPG boiler
  • Back Boiler
  • Oil Boiler
  • Electric Storage Heating or Electric Room Heaters

You can also apply for a heating upgrade if you have no gas central heating, no heating controls, or no heating at all on your property.

Tip

To apply for external wall insulation, your property must have solid walls! If you reside in a cavity wall property, you have to apply for cavity wall insulation which is a different insulation process. Make sure to confirm you have the right kind of walls for external wall insulation.

Applying for free external wall insulation grants

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If you meet the aforementioned criteria for either the GBIS or ECO4 schemes, you can go ahead by applying for free external wall insulation grants. 

The application process can differ slightly depending on the scheme you are interested in, but in general they follow a similar process:

  • Choose a grant scheme: The schemes that are currently active in the UK are the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4). While both provide external wall insulation, they do have differences in their approach. Choose the scheme that best suits your home's needs.
  • Check your eligibility: Make sure you meet the scheme's eligibility criteria of your chosen scheme. This way you can ensure to not waste time on an application.
  • Apply: If you want to apply for the GBIS scheme, To apply for the GBIS scheme, visit the official UK government website and fill in the application form. If you opted for the ECO4 scheme, contact your energy provider to learn more about the application.
  • Arrange an installer: For any UK government scheme, you are obliged to work with a professional installer who is PAS 2030-2035 certified. The Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) are guidelines for qualified installers to deliver the highest quality installation work. By working with a PAS installer, you’ll receive quality workmanship.

While the process seems straightforward enough, finding the right installer for the job can be a tedious and draining process. Prospective clients often find themselves spending weeks on end surfing websites and arranging phone calls with installers, only to reach indecision. That’s where GreenMatch UK can step in to help you out! 

Through our nationwide network of trusted professional installers, we can provide you with up to 3 free home-tailored quotes for insulation. All you have to do is fill out our simple 30-second online form, and we’ll make sure you get the best bargains. No hidden charges or extra obligations apply. Click below to begin!

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