With storage heaters costing anywhere from £150 to well over £200, they can be incredibly expensive to repair or replace on a whim. Because of this, many households in the UK struggle to pay this should their unit break or experience a significant reduction in inefficiency.
In order to combat how expensive storage heaters and other methods of home heating are, the Government has introduced schemes that can help those who need it most by offering grants to cover the cost of repairing or replacing the systems. This article will talk you through what a storage heater is and the grants available, as well as the eligibility criteria for those seeking a grant for a new unit.
What is a storage heater?
A storage heater is an electric heater that works by heating internal ceramic bricks during the evening and releasing the generated heat to keep your home warm. These units are the most cost effective for those who do not have access to mains gas and can save you lots of money compared to other types of heating methods.
Similarly, to gas boilers, storage heaters will need to be installed by a qualified electrician. There are a number of websites that can help you find a tradesperson, such as checkatrade.com, and some manufacturers will even have a list of reputable engineers that they recommend you use.
When do storage heaters need replacing?
Typically, storage heaters will last around 10-15 years before needing to be replaced. Wear and tear will be influenced by the amount the unit is used and the size of the rooms that it is required to heat.
Starting from 1st January 2018, new storage heaters must comply with the European Eco-design Directive, meaning that they must all have the same features and work in the same way for ease of installation and maintenance. They must also meet the minimum efficiency rating of 38% for output above 250W. Most modern storage heaters will have built-in thermostats and a fan assisted output to distribute heat around the room evenly.
It is important to replace a storage heater if it is old and less efficient than it was previously. If you notice your electricity bills are increasing in cost, then it likely means that your unit is working harder to heat your home and it is probably time to get a replacement.
The Government ECO Scheme
The Energy Companies Obligation Scheme was created by the Government in collaboration with some of the top energy companies in the UK such as British Gas, EDF Energy, Scottish Power etc. The scheme’s aim is to help those on lower incomes to replace their storage heater for free or at a heavily reduced cost so that every household has access to warmth through an efficient heating system.
Many people are mistaken in thinking that this scheme only applies to gas boilers, but it is actually applicable to a number of heating methods. In order to apply, you will be asked to fill out a simple form that checks your eligibility, as well as the current efficiency rating of your home.
If you are a landlord, you are also able to benefit from this scheme, though the eligibility is checked against the tenants rather than yourself. The tenant will have to physically apply but will need to give proof of consent from a landlord. If you think your tenant is eligible, then it is worth getting in touch to ask if this is something they may be interested in, as it can reduce the cost of their heating bills.
Affordable Warmth Obligation
Previously called the Warm Front Initiative, this scheme is a branch of the ECO scheme and can provide those in low-income homes with financial assistance that covers cavity insulation work in the loft or walls, as well as any other upgrades to the storage heater.
The eligibility for this scheme is the same as for the full ECO scheme, but this particular initiative is also available to those who are in social housing, as long as the home has an energy rating of E, F, or G. Replacing the old system with a more efficient storage heater is an investment that will benefit you financially in the long term.
Who is eligible for these schemes and grants?
Due to the limited funding available for these schemes, the requirements for applicants are very strict. The Government requires that the household be low-income and in receipt of any of the following benefits:
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credit
- Pension credit
- Income related ESA/JSA
- Universal credit
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is vital that you own your own home to be eligible, as well as having a total household income of under £20k per year. Another requirement states that the storage heater must be over 7 years old to be eligible for a free replacement grant. If your unit was bought more recently than this, then it is recommended that you get in touch with your heater’s manufacturer to check whether the warranty covers repairs and replacements in the first few years after having it installed.
Often your energy company will get in contact with you if they think that you meet the criteria for this support. If you haven’t been contacted and you need to replace your storage heater then get in touch if you think you are eligible, because this could save you a vast amount of money on your heating bills over time.
Storage Heater Grants Summary
Boiler efficiency is imperative to saving money and energy used on your heating bills, which, in turn, means that the heater unit should last longer. These schemes have been introduced by the Government in order to help those on low incomes cover the cost of replacing their storage heater, should it break or significantly reduce inefficiency. The scheme eligibility criteria are very strict, but if you think you meet the requirements then get in touch with your energy company to find out more.