Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners from the UK Government

Last updated: May 22, 2024

If you’re a pensioner receiving Pension Credit or other qualifying benefits, you may be eligible for a free boiler replacement. Read on to discover how to get a free boiler replacement for pensioners.

Reports by Age UK show that 1.9 million, or one in six older households, live in fuel poverty, and 59% report worrying about their ability to heat their homes.

The latest estimates show 16%, or 1.9 million of older households live in fuel poverty.

To combat this, the Government introduced various schemes to improve the least energy-efficient housing stock occupied by low-income and vulnerable households, including pensioners.

If you’re eligible, you can qualify for a free boiler replacement for pensioners.

This can help you replace your inefficient or broken boiler with an A-rated, modern boiler that will lower your heating bills and keep your home warm and comfortable.

This guide explores schemes that allow you to access a free boiler replacement for pensioners in 2024, including eligibility, and how to apply.

Installers fitting a free boiler replacement for pensioners
Image by Worcester Bosch

Quick Takeaways:

  • A free boiler replacement for pensioners is available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
  • You can qualify if you’re a homeowner on a Pension Credit (an income-related benefit made up of Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit) or are aged 60 or older and receiving a Working Tax Credit.
  • You can also qualify for a free boiler replacement for pensioners through ECO4 Flex if you don’t receive any benefits.
  • The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) also allows you to access £5,000 off the cost of installing a biomass boiler.

Important note: if you are not a pensioner but are still interested in a boiler grant, you may be interested in other grant types. Check out our guide on oil boiler grants, storage heater grants, and boiler grants for landlords.

Is There A Free Boiler Replacement For Pensioners?

Yes! A free boiler replacement for pensioners is available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

The government is clear that it is unacceptable that some people living on a low income should have to do so in properties that cannot be kept warm at a reasonable cost.

Living in a cold home can result in a range of negative health outcomes and exacerbate respiratory conditions, especially for the elderly.

The government emphasises that a home should be warm, and comfortable and support the health of its occupants.

As such, it’s committed to ensuring low-income and vulnerable households access sustainable, low-carbon warmth as part of a fair transition to net zero.

What Is The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Scheme?

The Energy Companies Obligation Scheme is the most common government initiative. It was set up to help those needing financial assistance to replace their boilers.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) requires big energy suppliers with over 150,000 domestic customer accounts to install energy-efficient heating measures in homes in Great Britain.

These measures help households warm their homes and reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.

The Government states that these large companies are responsible for ensuring that pensioners and low-income families can access heating and hot water.

This scheme allows pensioners to apply for a grant to replace their old or inefficient boiler for free, helping them reduce their heating bills in the long term.

The ECO scheme was launched in 2013 and delivered over 3.2 million measures in over 2.3 million homes. The fourth installment of the scheme, ECO4, has been running from 1 April 2022 and will continue until 31 March 2026.

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Who Is Eligible for Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners?

Unfortunately, the ECO4 scheme is not open to everyone, and you must meet certain criteria. These include:

  • The applicant must be the property owner, e.g., not a landlord.
  • The current boiler in the property must be at least 8 years old. If the boiler has a fault affecting its operation and efficiency or is broken, it can be 5 to 8 years old.
  • The property must be connected to the main gas supply.
  • The applicant must receive a qualifying benefit.
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What Types Of Benefits Are Accepted?

A free boiler replacement for pensioners is available to homeowners or private renters, to which either of the following applies:

  • On Pension Credit (income-related benefit made up of Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit)
  • Aged 60 plus and receiving Working Tax Credit

Other qualifying benefits include:

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Child Tax Credits (CTC)
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Housing Benefit (new eligible benefit under ECO4)
  • Child Benefit*– depending on income threshold

What Are The Income Thresholds?

To be entitled to the ECO grant funding for a new boiler under Child Benefits, you must also fall within any of the following income thresholds:

If you are claiming as a couple:

Number of ChildrenIncome Threshold
Four or More£41,700

If you are a single parent claimant:

Number of ChildrenIncome Threshold
Four or More£34,200

Qualifying for a New Boiler Grant Through ECO4 Flex

You can also qualify for a free boiler replacement for pensioners through ECO4 Flex if you don’t receive any of the above benefits.

LA Flex stands for Local Authority Flexible Eligibility, an extension of the core ECO4 scheme. It allows participating local authorities to refer private households living in fuel poverty or on low income and vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home.

LA Flex aims to widen the net and reach households who may not be able to afford the costs of a new efficient boiler.

With LA Flex, you can qualify for free funding to cover the costs of energy-saving measures like replacing inefficient or efficient but broken boilers.

According to Ofgem, suppliers can deliver up to 50% of their obligation under this mechanism.

How Do You Qualify Under LA Flex?

The LA Flex aims to help:

  • Those in fuel poverty. This involves households spending at least 10% of their net income heating the home.
  • Those who are vulnerable and at risk during the cold weather.

You can qualify for LA Flex funding to pay for a new boiler through the following routes:

  • Route 1 (Low household income): An annual household income under £31,000.
  • Route 2 (Health): People with health issues exacerbated by living in a cold home. These include cardiovascular, respiratory, and mobility problems and those with immune-suppressed conditions.
  • Route 3 (Multi-proxy eligibility): A household in Energy bands E, F, or G and meeting any two of the following criteria:
  • The home is in the LSOA 1-3 area.
  • The householder receives a Council Tax rebate based on low income only.
  • The householder is vulnerable to living in a cold home, as identified in the NICE Guidance.
  • The Local Authority scheme, which aims to support vulnerable and low-income households, has referred the householder.
  • Household members get free meals in school.
  • The household struggles with sustained debt on mortgage payments and utility bills. The mortgage lender, the energy supplier, or Citizens Advice has advised the household to seek support from the local authority.

How Do You Apply for Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply by contacting your current energy supplier, or through the following steps:

Step 1: Visit the Free Boiler Scheme Application Website

The website is responsible for receiving, reviewing, and approving applications for free boiler grants from the ECO Scheme. Just visit it to start the application process.

Some pensioners may find the process of applying online difficult. If you require help with applying, you can ask a family member, carer, or friend to apply on your behalf.

Step 2 – Fill out the Free Boiler Scheme Form

The application form will require information such as:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Household income
  • Household health issues
  • Post Code
  • Type of Ownership
  • Household benefits
  • EPC rating of your property
  • Details about your boiler
  • Previous ECO funding

Ensure you’re as detailed and precise as possible. This will allow to review and approve your application faster if you’re eligible to claim this grant.

After filling out all the required information, click “Submit” to send your application, and the team of specialists will review it.

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Step 3 – Get Approved to Upgrade Your Boiler

You can expect to hear back from in 24 hours or less, to discover if you can claim a grant to replace your boiler for free thanks to the ECO Scheme.

Once approved, you will get more details about the free funding and what you will obtain through the government initiative.

Step 4 – Set a Property Survey Date

Following the approval notice, you must set a date for the property survey.

This process is completely free, and it’s necessary to verify if your boiler needs replacement and what other upgrades will make your home more energy efficient, such as wall and loft insulation, solar panels, and storage heaters.

Ensure you’re available to give the assessor access to different areas and have your energy bills or any energy improvement records handy.

Step 5 – Get A Plan and Set an Installation Date

After conducting the property survey, you’ll receive a report outlining the energy efficiency improvements recommended for your home, which can include a boiler replacement.

The assessor will calculate the grant funding you can get and whether it covers the full cost of a boiler or the majority of the cost, and you can set up an installation date.

They’ll visit your home again to install your new boiler for free, along with other necessary upgrades such as insulation and storage heaters.

Got a common boiler problem? Check out our quick fix guide for boiler lockoutboiler ignition faultsboiler PCB faultsfaulty diverter valves, and boiler timer issues.

Why Should You Consider A Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners?

You must replace your boiler if it’s old, broken, or inefficient.

A broken boiler is useless and cannot heat your home or provide hot water. It can even be dangerous if the system is leaking gas or overheating.

It’s vital that if you notice any signs that your boiler is broken, you get it fixed or replaced immediately.

An efficient boiler will use the least energy possible to heat your home and hot water, saving 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 with an F or G efficiency rating.

Replacing a boiler is an investment that can save a lot of money in the long term. To reduce the upfront costs, the Government has introduced schemes that can help pensioners and those on low incomes.

Did you know your boiler’s efficiency can impact the energy it uses and, ultimately, your heating bill costs? Check out our guide to the best condensing boilers to learn more. 

Got a common boiler problem? Check out our quick fix guide for boiler lockout, ignition faults, PCB faults, faulty diverter valves, and boiler timer issues.

Which Other Free Boiler Schemes Are Available?

Apart from the ECO scheme, other boiler grants are available for which you may be eligible. These include:

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS)

The BUS scheme provides upfront capital grants to encourage property owners to replace existing fossil fuel heating systems with low-carbon, more efficient heating systems.

It aims to support the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers in homes and non-domestic buildings in England and Wales.

The scheme operates similarly to the Green Homes Grant Scheme. The government contributes a fixed sum to the upfront costs of low-carbon heating technologies, and you pay for the rest.

The scheme opened for grant applications on 23rd May 2022 and will run up to 2025 with a £450m funding confirmed for the three years.

Grants of £5,000 are available for biomass boilers and are offered at a flat rate.

You’ll also benefit from a 0% VAT rate on purchasing and installing low-carbon heating technologies.

Who Qualifies for A Boiler Grant Under BUS?

You can qualify for a new boiler grant under BUS if:

  • You own the property you’re applying for, including a second home, business, or rental property.
  • Your property is rural and not connected to the gas grid.
  • Your property has no outstanding insulation recommendations and has a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Changes to the grant eligibility rules allow you to qualify even with recommendations from May 2024.
  • You have an emissions certificate for your boiler showing you keep polluting emissions to a minimum.
  • You have a property with an installation capacity of up to 45kWth.
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Do All Properties Qualify for A New Boiler Grant Under BUS?

No. Grants are not available under the scheme for:

  • Properties already supported or funded by the government for a biomass boiler or heat pump.
  • Social houses like rentals or accommodations provided at lower market value
  • New build properties apart from particular self-builds. If you own a self-build property and wish to be eligible, you must have built it or paid a builder to do the job. You’ll need to provide proof that the property is self-build.

How Do You Apply for A Boiler Grant Under BUS?

BUS is an installer-led scheme, meaning you’ll need an installer to apply for the grant on your behalf.

Your installer will advise on the suitable heating system for your property, apply to Ofgem for a grant voucher, and complete the installation according to scheme requirements and industry standards.

Low-carbon heating systems installed, thoroughly checked, and commissioned by the installer on or after 1st April 2022 are eligible for funding under the scheme. The new heating system must:

  • Replace an existing fossil fuel heating system like an oil, gas, electric, or LPG boiler.
  • Be capable of meeting your home’s whole space hot water and heating requirements.
  • Meet specific technical standards like minimum efficiency requirements. The installer will advise you on these.

Home Energy Scotland

Home Energy Scotland offers grant funding, interest-free loans, or a combination of both to help homeowners and self-builders in Scotland install renewable systems like biomass boilers.

Upon proving that a heat pump is unsuitable for your property, you can access up to £15,000 in funding, which consists of a £7,500 grant plus an optional £7,500 loan.

The grant rises to £9,000 if you live in a rural or island home.

Does The Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners Affect Winter Fuel Payments?

No. If you qualify for a free boiler replacement for pensioners, it will have no effect on your winter fuel payment.

The winter fuel payment is a tax-free sum between £250 and £600 to help pay heating bills. Anyone receiving a state pension who was born on or before 25 September 1957 is entitled to this payment.

If you qualify for a free boiler replacement, you’ll benefit from a more fuel-efficient boiler, so your winter fuel payment will stretch even further.

Have you heard about the gas boiler ban and are wondering what the alternatives to gas boilers are? Read our complete guide to replacing your gas boiler with a heat pump.

What Can I Do If I Don’t Qualify For A Free Boiler Replacement For Pensioners?

If you don’t qualify for a free boiler, you can get a boiler on finance, also known as pay-monthly boilers or rent-a-boiler.

With boilers on finance, you can install a new boiler in your home without paying the full price before installation.

Instead, you can spread the cost of your new boiler with an affordable monthly pay deal, with no upfront payment and no hidden charges.

Several companies offer this service, making spreading out the cost of a new boiler installation easier.

The monthly payment covers the cost of the boiler, installation, and, depending on your contract, any repair, maintenance, and servicing costs for the duration of your contract.

Free Boiler Replacement for Pensioners Conclusion

If you’re struggling to heat your home due to an inefficient boiler or high energy costs, a free boiler replacement for pensioners can help!

The Government has introduced several schemes that aim to help pensioners replace their boilers, if not for free, at a heavily reduced price.

Whilst the requirements for a free replacement are quite stringent, other schemes are worth considering.

It is important to ensure that your boiler is efficient and heats your home effectively. This will reduce your heating bills, save you money, and make the system far more sustainable and long-lasting.

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