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Grant boilers – Free boilers UK, everything you wanted to know.

So, you’ve heard about a free boiler and it sounds too good to be true?

Who qualifies for a grant boiler?

If you receive the correct combination of income-related benefits, including tax credits, income support, ESA or JSA, then you could have your old boiler replaced with a brand new A-rated boiler for little, to no cost.

As well as receiving the correct combination of benefits, your current gas, oil or LPG boiler must be at least over 5 years old. If it is less than 5 years old, the scheme makes an assumption that is is more cost effective to repair your old boiler, than it is to have it replaced on the scheme.

Some of the benefits mean that you will qualify for a boiler grant automatically, with no other requirements. With some others, you may need to have an extra qualifying component such as being responsible for a child under 16, be of a certain age etc.

Ecoforhome.com can help – Apply Now

  • Working Tax Credits
  • Pension Credits
  • Income-Related ESA
  • Income-Related JSA
  • Universal Credit
  • Child credit

UK Grant boiler scheme – do I qualify and what do I need to do?

grant boiler

The ECO scheme history

Since April 2013 there have been various schemes offered by the government to help reduce carbon emissions and make heating more affordable for homes across the UK. There have been lots of different names for the schemes, but currently all schemes are known as an Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. The latest changes to the scheme started in 2017 and apply to heating systems installed from 1 April 2017. The latest version of the scheme is called ECO2t and is expected to continue until 30th September 2018.

It has been announced that ECO3 will run from 1st October 2018 to 30th March 2022, giving even more opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the home. The aim is to focus ECO3 on those who are financially vulnerable and cannot afford the cost of installing new heating measures. There will also be a focus on insulation and improving the energy efficiency of homes.

Why does it exist?

There are several reasons why the government wants to improve the heating of homes and create an end to what is called ‘fuel poverty’. Some of these reasons include:

  1. To meet carbon emission targets the energy efficiency of all homes in Britain needs to be improved. Heating systems make a big impact in this.
  2. Heating bills are rising, and many people cannot afford to heat their homes effectively. This is a social issue which needs addressing across the UK and will improve the health of the country, life expectancy, and general well-being.
  3. Older, inefficient boilers which are over 10 years old will be burning more fuel than they need to. Boilers installed over 10 years ago are likely to be running at 60-70% efficiency, meaning that a lot of fuel is wasted. A new boiler should be running at 90% efficiency.
  4. The scheme is funded by the big energy suppliers which means it is not being covered by the taxpayer.

Who can apply?

Under ECO2t there is a list of those who qualify for a heavily reduced cost heating system and in many cases, the heating system will be completely free. You will qualify if you receive at least one of the following benefits and satisfy the relevant income requirements, where applicable:

  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • Income support
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Tax Credits
  • Universal Credit

Local authorities are also able to refer residents in their areas to obligated energy suppliers so that they can be offered support under the scheme. In order to benefit from ECO, you must own your own home or have the permission of your landlord. 

If you are not on the list of benefits listed, then you will not be able to apply for the scheme. Those who are tenants or not listed as the homeowner need to get permission from the homeowner. This can be difficult if, for example, the owner is in care and there is no power of attorney issued. If in doubt, check with land registry who the home is listed as belonging to and get this amended if their information is incorrect.

You cannot get ECO if you live in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. It only applies to those living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Under ECO3 it has been proposed that the list is increased to include those who receive child benefits, Ministry of Defence administered benefits and some forms of disability benefit, increasing the number those who qualify by roughly 6.5 million.

What can be replaced?

Under ECO2t pretty much any boiler can be replaced, no matter the fuel type. Most of the UK (over 80% of homes) are on the mains gas grid and would have a combi or regular boiler with hot water cylinder. Those homes off the grid are likely to have an oil, coal or electric boiler and all of these can be replaced under the scheme.

Boilers which can be replaced are being limited under ECO3. It has been proposed that to help reach carbon emission targets that any oil or coal boilers will not be replaced under the scheme, so essentially ECO3 will only apply to those homes on mains gas or using electric boilers. Renewable solutions such as Air/Ground source heat pumps do not qualify under this scheme but do get other subsidies under the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Other important things to note

You can benefit from ECO regardless of who you purchase your energy from. You don’t need to buy energy from a specific supplier to qualify. Some suppliers may be able to help you arrange for a new boiler or heating system under the scheme, but there are several independent companies who can offer the same service.  

You may be contacted directly by an installer claiming to be working under the ECO scheme. In such circumstances please check the credentials of installers operating under the scheme. There are some companies out there who will claim to get you a free or discounted boiler and then you are left with a large bill at the end of it because they are not registered to provide the service.

It is important to note that if you do qualify for ECO2t or ECO3 this does not necessarily mean that an energy supplier or installer will decide to install an energy efficiency measure in your home. Once an initial survey has been completed it might be decided that there is a better solution for your needs or that the heating system cannot be replaced.

 

Ecoforhome.com can help – Apply Now

Everything You Need To Know About Electric Boiler

Just over 13% of the UK homes are referred to as being ‘off-gas grid’ and are not connected to the national gas supply network. There is the option of connecting to the gas grid but depending on the distance involved this can be very costly.

Electric boilers

The electric boiler has always had a mixed reputation. The main criticism of them as a home heating system is that electricity is more expensive, so in terms of running costs they just aren’t winners compared to gas. However, for millions of homes across the UK without access to the gas network, they are a viable heating alternative and bring with them several other benefits.

What is an electric boiler?

An electric boiler uses electricity rather than gas to heat hot water. Just like a gas boiler, it will heat up the water that warms your radiators, and the water you use in the kitchen and bathroom.

Also Read: Boiler Plus – Everything you need to know

They can come in various shapes and sizes, but in all-electric boilers, you’ll see water running through the system to be heated by a heating element – like the way a kettle works. They can be installed in most small to medium sized homes easily, though for larger homes they may not be suitable.

Types of electric boiler

There are a few different types of electric boilers:

A direct electric boiler uses a heating element to heat water on demand much like a gas or oil Combi boiler does. It doesn’t keep a store of hot water.

A storage electric boiler requires a separate hot water tank so you can heat water when electricity is cheaper and store it for use the next day.

An electric Combined Primary Storage Unit, or CPSU, stores lots of hot water so it can meet demand much quicker at higher pressure.

Dry core boilers are like storage heaters as they use cheaper night-time tariffs to heat bricks overnight, but the heat is then released into the water to be used in central heating and hot water, rather than being released directly into the home.

Advantages

  1. Electric boilers don’t release waste gases and so are considered a much ‘greener’ option than burning gas or oil.
  2. For homes that don’t have access to gas, can’t store an oil tank or are restricted e.g. listed buildings, an electric boiler is a great alternative.
  3. Electric boilers are relatively simple in terms of technology, don’t require a flue for waste gases and are compact and light. This makes them much more versatile than gas or oil in terms of where they can be placed in the home.
  4. Installing an electric boiler is simpler than gas or oil and so is quicker and cheaper
  5. They are more energy efficient than gas or oil boilers running at 99% efficiency or higher. Most gas boilers have a maximum efficiency of 95%.
  6. Electric boilers generate almost no noise as there are no moving parts.
  7. During warmer months an electric boiler pump is easily programmed to prevent blockages, which can occur in unused gas boilers.
  8. The upfront cost of an electric boiler can be considerably less than a gas boiler. For example, the average gas Combi boiler will cost anywhere between £800 – £2,500, while electric boilers can be found for less than £500.
  9. Solar panels can be incorporated with some electric boilers to heat your water during the day.

Disadvantages

  1. Unsuitable for high water usage. Electric boilers are much more limited in the amount of water that they can heat at any one time. This means that larger properties, or those with higher levels of hot water usage, may be better suited to a conventional gas boiler system.

 

  1. Cost of electricity. Electricity is more expensive than gas, meaning that the running costs of an electric boiler could be higher. However, if linked with solar systems these costs could be reduced.

 

  1. Doubts about environmental benefits. While electric boilers themselves are environmentally friendly, as they do not produce waste gases, there are concerns that the initial process of generating electricity creates as much pollution as a gas boiler system, therefore negating the environmentally friendly aspects.

 

  1. Susceptibility to power cuts. As they run solely on electricity, electric boilers are susceptible to power cuts. This risk can be reduced with a solar battery or back up heat source such as a wood burner. However, some power cuts can affect remote areas for several days.

Average cost to run

If we compare the average annual cost for a 3-bedroom house, we can estimate that an electric combi boiler would be around £1,200. The average cost to run a similar gas combi boiler is £900. Although it might not be the cheapest heating technology regarding running costs, electric boiler installation costs are much lower than those of gas boilers and they do not need annual maintenance or safety inspections. Depending on the size of the property an electric boiler may be a viable option, especially if linked with a renewable electricity source.

If you are not connected to mains gas then an electric boiler is much cheaper than oil or LPG, both of which cost approximately £1,300 per year in fuel, in addition to the space required for a storage tank.

Boiler Plus – Everything you need to know

Since 6th April 2018 the legislation around heating manufacture and installation in the UK has changed, and there are some big changes. What is this Boiler Plus

These changes have been named Boiler Plus and were introduced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They address the energy efficiency of heating systems and have raised the bar for both manufacturers and installers.

The minimum efficiency level of all boilers manufactured and installed will be set at 92% ErP. Most A rated boilers are already working at this level of efficiency already, with a few companies needing to improve their efficiency slightly. The main motivation behind the change is to phase out inefficient boilers and reduce carbon emissions in line with targets set by the EU. It forms just part of a wider plan known as the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy which aims to combat climate change and provide UK homes with greater comfort and lower energy bills.

 

HHIC say:

“These changes will mean far more conversations between installers and their clients about the requirements set out in this consultation and the options that are available to meet them.”

“This will clearly increase consumer’s awareness of what controls are and how they can be used to get maximum efficiency from the new system they are having installed”

“By mandating certain controls, such as programmable timers and thermostats, the market for these products will inevitably be widened while consumer awareness of them and their benefits will also inevitably increase”

Boiler plus

What are the penalties?

Installers who fail to install boilers in line with these new Building Regulations will be breaking the law and could be prosecuted by Building Control. The Gas Safe Register can also refer safety concerns to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). Invoicing a customer for work which they claim to be legal but is not is also to be considered fraudulent under Trading Standards. This could lead to a fine or, in cases of serious fraud, imprisonment. Homeowners who knowingly allow non-compliant work to be carried out could also face prosecution and fines of up to £5,000.

What are the options to comply with the law?

HIIC have provided this helpful diagram to help both homeowners and installers stay on the right side of the law. What is interesting is that the law only applies to combi boilers, as nearly all boilers will come with a timer and thermostat. There has been criticism from some installers that this legislation assumes that only combi boilers are being fitted and other systems do not need other efficiency related devices. However, we will focus on how an installer can stay compliant with the four measures which need to be installed alongside a combi boiler. These four measures are: FGHR, Weather compensation, load compensation and Smart Heating controls.

 

What are the different measures to comply?

It is worth highlighting that only one of these measures must be installed to remain compliant with the law. In an ideal world all the measures would be fitted to each boiler, but this will add extra costs. Depending on the manufacturer there is a variety of costs associated with the installation, but this is much cheaper than the fine for non-compliance.

What is FGHR?

A Flue Gas Heat Recovery (FGHR) is a device designed to improve the energy efficiency of the boiler by recycling the heat from the flue gases which would usually be lost into the atmosphere. Instead, this heat is used it to preheat domestic hot water. A FGHR will cost roughly £1000-2000 for installation, depending on the brand and size of the boiler.

What is weather compensation?

Weather compensation devices enable the boiler to read the outside temperature via a sensor so that the boiler can adjust the temperature of your heating accordingly. Most weather compensation sensors are standalone units fixed to an exterior wall.  A weather compensation kit can be purchased for as little as £30, up to around £250 for better quality kits.

 

What is load compensation?

Load compensation measures the response of the heating system and adjusts the flow temperature based on what is needed to reduce fuel consumption. A full system will cost anywhere from £500 to £1500.

What is a Smart heating control?

Smart heating controls have had the most media coverage, especially with a push from British Gas for their Hive controls and Google with the Nest. These heating controls allow you to adjust temperature and control when the heating comes on from your phone because they’re connected to the internet via your router. They also monitor and learn your behaviours, leading to a more energy efficient home as the smart control will adjust the thermostat automatically when you are not home. Smart heating controls retail at between £150 and £250, although many manufacturers are offering incentives for new customers with free smart heating controls with installation. See our post on smart thermostats 

Most Gas safe installers are opting for a smart heating control, possibly because of the incentives from manufacturers and many homeowners like the link to technology. However, for a cheap and easy solution installing a weather compensation kit will keep you on the right side of legislation and cost a lot less for installers and homeowners.

Vaillant boilers or Worcester boilers? Which is better?

Vaillant VS Worcester

Vaillant or Worcester

 

 

Vaillant and Worcester Bosch are both domestic heating and hot water product manufacturers. Both are highly regarded brands with consistently high customer satisfaction scores. Both make all types of boiler, conventional boiler, combi boilers & system boilers. When trying to decide between a Vaillant and a Worcester boiler, there are a few things to consider, e.g. price, size, control, and energy efficiency. First, we should get an overview of the two companies and the range on offer. Ps if you’re interesting the in the: Pros & Cons of Combi boilers VS Conventional boilers .

So Vaillant or Worcester? Let the battle commence. Read on…

 

Vaillant Boilers 

Valliant is a German company which has been a key player in the heating market for over 135 years and now sells its products in more than 80 countries. Vaillant was founded in 1874 and is currently Europe’s second largest company in this sector, focusing on energy-saving and environmentally-friendly products with polished German engineering.

 

Their range provides options for all sizes of homes and different budget options from the Ecotec Pro & Ecofit pure to the more premium Vaillant Ecotec Plus, which now comes with a 10-year guarantee for Vaillant advance members. Their boilers range in price from £740 to £1,500 depending on their size and sophistication. Most boilers come with a standard 2 to 5-year warranty, which can be extended up to between 5 and 10 years at an additional cost. (Excluding Vaillant Plus range).

 

In general, Valliant customers are happy with their range of boilers. Many claims that Vaillant boilers are particularly easy to use and are made to a good standard. Whilst some people have had issues with their boiler, they report that problems have been dealt with quickly by the company’s team of 200 specialist engineers.

Worcester Bosch Boilers 

Worcester was founded in 1962 in the United Kingdom and later acquired by Robert Bosch GmbH in 1992 to form part of the Worcester Bosch Group. Similarly to Vaillant, Worcester Bosch makes energy-saving goods its main focus, while also creating schemes that promote activities dedicated to conserving the environment for future generations. Find out more here.

 

Their range of domestic combi boilers includes the Greenstar Junior and Greenstar Si series. Their Greenstar Ri series is a popular conventional boiler for more traditional homes that use a cold water tank and hot water cylinder. They also produce system boilers such as the Greenstar 12i, 24i, and 30CDi. Their boilers range in price from £570 to £6,188 and are supplied by certified Worcester Bosch installers. Their boilers come with a standard 5-year warranty, with an option to extend to 10 years for free if the boiler is fitted and maintained by a certified Worcester Bosch installer.

 

Worcester Bosch has a strong reputation with very few negative reviews. They score very highly for their reliability, although some customers have reported that the controls on their boilers can sometimes be difficult to use.

Worcester boiler

Awards

Both brands have won several awards over the past decade and Worcester Bosch has won the Which? Best Buy Awards in the gas boiler category for seven years running. Their boilers have also had a 6-year run at an overall rating of 92% for customer satisfaction and engineer recommendations.

The Vaillant Ecotec Pro range, in turn, was also awarded the Which? Best Buy Award in 2016 but can also claim to be the only boiler brand to have also been awarded Quiet Mark status by the Noise Abatement Society.

What are Installers saying

On pistonheads.com installers have commented on the build quality of the two brands, with ‘moles’ commenting:

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=207&t=1647728

On lemonfool.co.uk opinions were divided, with many commenting that there is little to choose between the two. However, it is worth noting that several installers commented that they have to repair Vaillant boilers much less frequently than Worcester Bosch:

https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=4031

 

And Frank Finn, of Frank Finn plumbing, echoes this in his own blog comparing the two brands:

“Considering all the factors and individual needs, my verdict would favour the Vaillant boilers.

One of the things we find helpful from Vaillant is there allowable flue length, a valiant 832 could go as far away from an outside wall as 8m whereas a Worcester 29cdi would be 6.4m giving you greater flexibility on the positioning of the boiler.

We have found the Vaillant to be quite easy to fix when things do go wrong cutting down on long call out times. Whereas we have found with Worcester, they have a few parts which are not easily accessible, without removing other parts on the boiler.”

https://www.ffinnplumbing.co.uk/are-vaillant-boilers-better-than-worcester/

 

Also, if you head over to some of the gas engineer groups on Facebook, a lot of engineers joke about the impossibility of repairing Worcester boilers, some of the problems that come up, that should not come up, like the replacement of parts that should be easily replaceable on a routine visit, require the whole boiler stripping on.

Worcester combi boiler

VERDICT?

Both brands make excellent A-rated boilers and come with very few complaints and high customer satisfaction rates. In my opinion, I would recommend the Vaillant boiler range over Worcester Bosch for two reasons; firstly, Vaillant boiler parts are more readily available, last longer and have few complaints about wait times for repair and secondly the Quiet Mark award. There is very little difference in price, but Vaillant are often slightly less expensive when including installation costs, but this saving might be used to offset against taking an extended warranty, that being said the Vaillant Ecofit Pure range offering a 7-year guarantee & the Ecotec plus range now offeri10-year year guarantee is pretty strong!

From the comments of multiple installers, I would expect most Vaillant boilers fitted now to last long after their warranty expires, if services and maintained properly, whereas Worcester Bosch may not last quite as long.

 

Feature Vaillant Worcester
Quality of materials 9.5/10 (plus range) 8.0 (CDI range)
Reliability 8/10 9/10
What installers say 9/10 "easy to work on" 6/10 can be expensive & a nightmare to repair
After Service 8/10 "Vaillant are very responsive" 8/10 "Worcester look after their customers"

 

Vaillant is the overall winner!

Rich, Green geek, Ecoforhome.com

1

Combi boiler or conventional?

An in-depth look at combi boilers vs traditional or conventional boilers

Combi boilers are utilised to supply the household with both heat and hot water. These special types of boilers have been gaining popularity over the years in many homes because they are efficient and take up little space. Usually small and compact, these boilers can be placed in discreet areas on the kitchen or bathroom wall. Combi boilers are energy-saving because they do not store water, and they heat only the amount that is needed for tasks such as cooking and bathing.

In some cases, these boilers can be very easy to install. This because there is no need to install a cylinder & complicated controls, such as Y plans & S plans.

Unlike the conventional boiler systems which require complex installation, combi boiler systems are more convenient to install. There is no need for a tank dedicated to hot water since water is heated directly and produced almost instantly. One only has to link the combi boiler directly to the main water source and there will be an endless supply of hot water.

best combi boiler

Advantages of Combi Boilers

  1. Compact & space saving One of the many features of combination boilers is that they are small and compact. Because of this, they take up little space, and you will not have to worry about a cupboard or flood space area being taken up by bulkier boilers, additional pipework, and water tanks. Water storage, though, may be a better option when your house has more than one bathroom.
  2. Can be easier to install depending on current setup.
  3. Pressurised – All of your radiators will be under pressure, meaning better flow & higher efficiency.
  4. Everything in one place, generally simple to repair & maintain if you choose a credible brand.
  5. Can be more efficient than their cylinder counter-part syle system.
  6. Never run out of water! As there’s no store water, you never need to worry about running out.

 

Bear in mind, house size, flow rate & demand impact.

The make of the combi boilers can vary from one another. More powerful units, like the Vaillant 938 or Worcester Highflow can deliver around 20 liters per minute at a 35-degree rise. Other combi boilers, for example, a (24KW) Vaillant boiler 824. Will deliver around 11 liters per minutes at a 35-degree rise. When I say rise, I mean water temp is coming in at X (say 10 degrees)  means a 24KW boiler can heat this at 11 liters per minute to (add 35 degrees) to 45 degrees. However, if you run the tap faster this will drop, eg running a shower at 15 liters per minute might only give you 30 degrees. Therefore a small boiler is not recommended for busy large households and for very busy households, a combi boiler may not work well at all.

Combi boilers can definitely save money and energy for the household and even the commercial establishments. It may even surprise you that you can eventually save money enough to buy yourself a combi boiler unit. You can check out a good number of retail outlets and online stores when you want to buy a combi boiler unit.

Disadvantages of Combi Boilers

  1. Busy households, with appliances on & multiple outlets running, will cause this type of boiler to struggle. You can counter this with a store water style combi eg the Vaillant 938 or Highflow mentioned above. You must have the correct pressure coming in!
  2. No back up, stored systems generally have an immersion back up, to keep you going if the boiler goes off. with a combi, if it goes down, everything goes down!
  3. The flow of hot water is generally affected by the weather outside the house. This means that there is less flow when the weather is cold. This happens because the time it takes for water to be heated increases, owing to the cold temperature outside the house.

Combi boiler negatives

Installation Cost of Combi Boilers

Combi boilers are popular such that over 50% of the total number of new boilers installed in the households all over the UK is the combi type. There must be a very good explanation for this. Combi boilers are efficient, energy-saving, easy to install, compact, and take up little space. These attractive features have made combi boilers more popular than the traditional types of boilers.

Often install costs are cheaper due to the lack of complicated controls, airing cupboards and water storage cylinders. That cost in materials and labour to install is generally 30-40% more.

Boiler Maintenance 

A Combi boiler should be properly and regularly maintained so that it will last you a long time and you’re kept safe from poisonous gasses. For this, you should see to it that the central heating services that you hire are Gas safe registered. Servicing nowadays is more of an MOT checklist, looking for faults more than the old days, cleaning a boiler out, it’s also generally mandatory to keep a boiler covered under warranty.

We’ll be writing a servicing guide soon.

Conclusion

So, you probably came to this post with an older system looking to see the pro’s and cons. The answer is, (I have 17 years experience in heating as of writing this). If you live in a house smaller than 4 bedroom and people aren’t desperate to shower all at the same time AND you have good mains pressure coming in. 

UPGRADE TO A COMBINATION BOILER SYSTEM!  Over & out. 

 

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