The Affordable Warmth Scheme targets low income households who experience the effects of fuel poverty and energy inefficiency.
It is a targeted scheme aimed at those areas where levels of fuel poverty are highest. The scheme is available to home owners, those who have their day / life interest in the house and those who privately rent their home. It is not available for tenants living in the social (Housing Executive or housing association) sector. The Affordable Warmth Scheme provides grant aid to improve energy efficiency measures within your home.
You may qualify if you
- live in Northern Ireland,
- own your home, have your day / life interest in the house or rent it from a private landlord; and
- have a total annual gross income of less that £20,000
The Housing Executive works in partnership with local Councils to deliver the Scheme throughout Northern Ireland. Grants are subject to funding being available at the time of the technical assessment of your home.
How the scheme works
Council staff will visit homes in their area to encourage and help householders to take part in the scheme. Council staff will:
- make contact with households likely to be affected by fuel poverty;
- ask the residents to complete an application form;
- send completed application form to the Housing Executive; and, if necessary
- contact the Social Security Agency’s ‘Make the Call’ team to request a Benefit Entitlement Check for the householder.
You can contact your local council to see if you might qualify for help.
Inspecting your home
A Housing Executive Technical Officer will arrange to visit your house to assess what energy efficiency measures, if any, would suit your property.
During the visit our Technical Officer will assess if those measures (see below) offered by the scheme are required. The technical assessment
- Technical assessment may take 35-60 minutes depending on your property’s size, type, location and energy needs.
- Our Technical Officer will need access to all areas / rooms (eg bedrooms, hot press, loft, boiler/oil tank location) in your property so they can identify the energy efficiency measures needed.
- Properties with cavity walls will have a borescope inspection carried out to identify the property’s cavity needs. We will need your permission to carry out this assessment of your cavity wall and inspections may be affected by issues with access and safe working practices.
How do I know what work I can do?
Subject to funding being available and you qualifying for help you will be sent an ‘Approval Pack’.
This approval confirms:
- how much grant aid you have been awarded;
- what energy efficiency measures you’re to carry out and the order of priority (see below);
- that you can start work; and
- the date by which the work must be completed.
You must not start any work until you have received written approval to do so from the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive will not pay for any work started before written approval is given.
Once you receive approval you have three months from the date of approval to ensure all work is completed. The grant is subject to cancellation if the work is not completed within the timescale given.
If your circumstances change (eg income, tenancy / ownership) which may affect your eligibility after you have been awarded grand-aid you must tell the Housing Executive immediately.
What help (measures) is available?
For those households who qualify, the Affordable Warmth Scheme offers a range of energy efficiency measures that should be carried out in the order of priority given.
Energy efficiency measures you may qualify for include, where suitable:
Priority 1 – Insulation / Ventilation / Draught-proofing
- installation or topping up of loft insulation to 300mm
- roof/loft/eaves ventilation
- providing a hot water cylinder jacket
- providing cavity wall insulation (if suitable for the property)
- draught proofing doors and/or windows
- removal and replacement of ineffective cavity wall insulation
Priority 2 – Heating
- replace solid fuel, LPG or Economy 7 by providing natural gas or oil central heating
- converting Economy 7 to high efficiency electrical storage system, only where gas and oil are not possible
- boiler replacement / system upgrade for homes with a boiler at least 15 years old where the householder:
- is over 65
- has a child in receipt of child benefit
- receives disability living allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payment (PIP) / Attendance Allowance
Priority 3 - Windows
- replace single glazed windows
- replace highly defective double glazed windows
Priority 4 – Solid Wall Measures
- provide solid wall insulation
Where we find no need for insulation or heating measures, you may still be offered help to repair or upgrade your windows.
Insulating solid wall properties is expensive so you will be expected to complete the other measures first.
If you are offered energy efficiency measures from more than one of the priority groups listed, you must complete each measure in the order of priority.
If you decide not to carry out one or more of the energy efficiency measures you are awarded a grant for, you must tell us in writing. You cannot transfer the grant monies to another measure(s). You will lose this portion of your grant.
How much grant-aid can I get?
This will depend on the energy efficiency measures recommended by the Technical Officer but you can receive up to £7,500 through the Affordable Warmth Scheme.
If your home is of solid wall construction and insulation measures are needed, this may increase to £10,000.
You should not have to contribute to the work agreed through the Affordable Warmth Scheme. If your contractor provides an estimate that is higher than the grant-aid amount given you should contact other contractors for estimates.
If your contractor indicates additional items or further work is needed you must send the details of and reasons for the extra work to the Housing Executive before starting work.
The Grants Office will consider the request and in some cases may agree to pay for the extra items / work. However, if they do not and you still wish to go ahead you must pay the difference.
You should also contact the Housing Executive if you’re finding it difficult to get the work done.
Who can do the work?
It is your responsibility to appoint a contractor(s) you believe is competent to carry out the work at your home.
You and your chosen contractor(s) must ensure that all work carried out in your home comply with all building regulations and any other statutory requirements.
If you have concerns about the standard of work to your property or damaged occurs to your property while the work is being carried out you should raise your concerns directly with your contractor(s). The Housing Executive is not responsible for this work.
If you are installing or replacing a central heating system you should be satisfied you are using a competent installer and where a gas boiler is put in you must use a registered Gas Safe Engineer.
Private Sector Tenants
If you rent your property from a private landlord you may qualify for help through the Affordable Warmth Scheme but your landlord must:
- agree to the energy efficiency measures being installed in the property;
- be registered with the Department for Communities’ Landlord Registration Scheme; and
- make a 50% contribution to the total cost of the energy efficiency measures to improve their property.