A new gas boiler can cost around £2000, which is often a significant amount of money for a pensioner or for anyone who is on a lower income. There are estimated to be around 12 million pensioners in the UK, though many of these do not receive a state pension and are struggling financially.
To combat this, the Government introduced a number of schemes and initiatives to provide financial support to anyone who needs their boiler replaced due to it being broken or inefficient.
Who is eligible for a free boiler replacement?
Generally, the Government’s budget for the different schemes is limited, and so the criteria is very strict. Pensioners who own their home and are in receipt of pension credit, or are at least 60 years old and receive a working tax credit, are eligible for the schemes available.
The grants are free; therefore, you are not expected to pay them back. They can cover just part of the replacement or the whole cost, depending on the circumstances. In order to be eligible, the boiler must be over 7 years old, otherwise, it is important to check the warranty to see if you are eligible for free replacement through the manufacturer.
Reasons for replacing a boiler
The primary reason for replacing a boiler is if it is broken. A broken boiler is useless and will not be able to heat the home or provide hot water, and can even be dangerous if the system is leaking gas or in danger of overheating. It is vital that if you notice any signs that your boiler is broken, you get it fixed or replaced immediately.
Another key reason that many people decide to replace their boilers is due to them being inefficient. An efficient boiler will use the least amount of energy possible to keep your home warm, which will inevitably save you money on your heating bills. Inefficient boilers will cost more to run and tend to be unreliable, leaving you vulnerable to tepid water and a cold home in the winter.
Boilers’ level of efficiency reduces heavily as they age. Most boilers will each have a rating that can indicate how efficient they are from A to G, with A being at least 90% efficient and G being less than 70% efficient. Generally, boilers should be E or above and it is now against the law to rent out a property that has an efficiency rating of F or G.
Replacing a boiler is an investment that can save lots of money in the long term, and to reduce the upfront costs the Government have introduced schemes that can help pensioners and those on low incomes.
The Government ECO scheme
The Energy Companies Obligation Scheme is the most common Government initiative that was set up in order to support those who may need financial assistance with replacing their boiler. This scheme allows pensioners to apply for a grant to replace their old or inefficient boiler for free in order to help them reduce their heating bills in the long term.
The big energy companies involved with this scheme are British Gas, EDF Energy, and Npower, among others. The Government states that these large companies have a responsibility to ensure that pensioners and low-income families have access to heating and hot water. Usually, your supplier will contact you if you are eligible, but if you think you meet the criteria and are in need of a boiler replacement then get in touch with your energy company.
Which other free boiler schemes are available?
If you are not eligible for the Government ECO scheme, then it is worth checking if you meet the criteria for other schemes such as the Affordable Warmth Obligation initiative. As well as replacing boilers, this scheme also covers repairs and updates to the insulation in your home such as adding insulation to the loft or cavity, as well as any upgrades to your heating.
For this scheme, as well as the criteria mentioned above, applicants must also have a household income of less than £20k per year in order to be accepted. This scheme is also available to pensioners who live in social housing, as long as the boiler in question has an energy efficiency rating of either E, F, or G.
Winter fuel payments
Another scheme that is available to pensioners is the Winter Fuel Payments that are paid out to those above 65 years old to help financially with heating bills. To be eligible, you either need to get the state pension or another type of social security benefit.
The scheme offers between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. In 2019-2020, around 11.4 million people received this payment in the UK, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland. If you are eligible for this initiative, you should be contacted automatically, but it is worth checking with your supplier if you have not received any help.
Rent a boiler scheme
The rent a boiler initiative is a scheme that many energy companies are now offering to allow you to pay for a new boiler in affordable instalments. Whilst this will not save you any money and could cost you extra in interest over a period of time, it is an option for those who are unable to replace their boiler upfront but could afford the monthly repayments comfortably – especially if you do not qualify for any of the Government schemes.
Free boilers for pensioners summary
The Government has introduced a number of schemes that aim to help pensioners with replacing their boiler, if not for free, for a heavily reduced price. Whilst the requirements for a free replacement are quite stringent, there are other schemes that are worth looking at if you think you qualify.
Ensuring that your boiler is efficient and heats your home effectively is important as it not only reduces your heating bills, saving you money but means the system is far more sustainable and will last longer.