Government Free Boiler Scheme 2018

Under the Government’s ECO scheme and boiler grants, some residents in England, Scotland and Wales can get money towards a new replacement boiler, or even a free boiler.

This support doesn't just help end energy poverty. By replacing our old boiler with a new one, all of us can save up to £350 each year on our energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

But can you get a boiler grant? How does it work? And how can you save as much money as possible, whoever you are?

Read on to find out if you're eligible for a free or subsidised boiler, and check out all the other ways you can save if not.


What's in This Guide to the Government Free Boiler Scheme?

Head straight to a specific section by clicking the links below



Government Free Boiler Scheme

What is the ECO free boiler scheme?

The Government’s Energy Companies Obligation (or ECO) scheme is a new boiler grant that has been helping homeowners or tenants on a low income (or certain benefits) replace their old, inefficient and faulty boiler completely free of charge, or at a heavily subsidised rate.

It's a government grant, but you actually get the support from your energy supplier, so long as they are registered on the boiler scheme. Since it was launched, replacement boilers have been installed in 173,770 homes under the ECO scheme.

Are they really free?

Yes, if you qualify, you won't need to repay these grants, but only people on specific benefits are eligible to apply. The ECO scheme is a Government initiative aimed at reducing the overall amount of energy we use by fitting a more energy efficient boiler in households where people may otherwise be unable to afford it.

By working with the key energy providers in the UK, the Government has made it a legal obligation for these companies to reduce the carbon footprint of households across England, Scotland and Wales by providing funding to the most vulnerable individuals.

Here are the energy providers involved with the ECO scheme:

  • British Gas
  • Co-operative Energy
  • Economy Energy
  • EDF Energy
  • EoN
  • Extra Energy
  • First Utility
  • Npower
  • OVO Energy
  • Scottish Power
  • SSE
  • Utility
  • Utility Warehouse


If you’re a customer of one of these suppliers, you can expect them to contact you to let you know if you’re eligible for a free boiler. If you aren’t with one of these suppliers but do qualify for the grant, you can still get help from them under the ECO scheme.

Important changes to the ECO Scheme

Since September 2018, the ECO scheme has been dialed back to help only the most fuel-poor households with more limited support. Before this, you could get funding for gas boilers, oil or LPG boilers and electric heaters, but the grants now only cover gas boilers.

Pensioners on a standard state pension will not be eligible for a free boiler grant, but those over 60 and receiving certain working tax credits are still be able to apply. We explain all below.

government free boiler scheme


Back to top



Who Qualifies for the ECO Scheme?

Government funding for the ECO scheme is limited, so the eligibility criteria for the grant is strict. In general, you must be receiving at least one benefit from the Government and have a household income of less than £20,000 per year.

You must also own your own home or have permission from your landlord to replace your existing boiler if living in a rented property. The ECO scheme only applies to households in England, Scotland and Wales.

A home owner of private tenant

Receiving certain benefits

Boiler over 8 years’ old


Here are the benefits you will need to be on to qualify for the ECO scheme:


Pension credit

Automatic qualification


Child tax credit (household income below £15,860)

Automatic qualification


Income support, or income related employment and support allowance

You will need one of these further qualifiers:

1. Disabled child premium

2. Child tax credit including disability element

3. Child under 20 in full time education

4. Child under 16

5. Disability premium

6. Pension premium


Working tax credits (income below £15,860)

You will need one of these further qualifiers:

1. Aged 60 or over

2. Be in receipt of disabled worker element of severe disability element

3. Responsible for child under 16 who lives at the property

4. Responsible for child under 20 who lives at the property, in full time education which is not higher education


Income based job seeker’s allowance

You will need one of these further qualifiers:

1. Disabled child premium

2. Child tax credit including disability element

3. Child under 20 in full time education

4. Child under 16

5. Disability premium

6. Pension premium


To receive funding from the ECO scheme, your boiler must be more than 8 years old and you must be a homeowner or private renter. Those in council owned properties cannot apply directly. To find out if you're eligible, you can call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.

If you do not qualify for the ECO scheme but you are still worried about the costs of installing a new boiler, there are other options. Many big companies offer finance options on their boiler installations.

Most of these options offer low, fixed interest rates and you could be paying only £10 to £20 a month for your new boiler. To find out more, visit our guide to boiler finance.


Could You Save With A New Boiler?

Select How Many Live In Your House To Find Out!


Boiler House

Back to top



How Does the Government’s ECO Scheme Work?

STEP 1: You apply for the scheme

You need to complete a quick application form to apply for the scheme and find out if you qualify.

You can apply online, through the Energy Saving Trust’s boiler grants website. Alternatively, you can telephone: 0300 123 1234.

You will be asked some questions about your personal circumstances, home and current boiler.

You will find out as soon as you’ve finished the survey if you’re likely to be eligible.


STEP 2: A local installer arranges a home energy assessment

If eligible, your contact details will be passed on to an approved, local installer. They will usually contact you within 24 - 48 hours, to arrange a suitable time to carry out a free, energy assessment in your home.*

*While the energy assessment is usually free, in some cases a small contribution may be required. Check with the installer before they come out.


STEP 3: A home survey is completed

The boiler installer will visit your home, to:

  • Check your boiler
  • Carry out an energy assessment of your home
  • Check your benefit paperwork
  • Let you know if the new boiler grant is available to you


STEP 4: Arrange an installation date

If you qualify for a free, replacement boiler, you can arrange an installation date with the installer.

Before installing your new boiler, the boiler engineer should let you know:

  • The work they plan to carry out
  • How long it will take
  • Whether there are any additional costs involved

In most cases, the replacement will be free, unless it’s not a straightforward replacement, i.e. you plan on changing the position of the boiler or adding additional radiators.

Note: If you are a tenant, you should always get the landlord’s permission before agreeing to any work on their behalf.


STEP 5: Your new boiler is installed

Enjoy the benefits of a warm home and save up to £350 each year on your energy bills!


Back to top



What Are the Benefits of the ECO Scheme?

Those who are eligible could benefit from:

A free (or heavily subsidized) new gas condensing boiler

An A-rated, energy efficient boiler

Free installation

Reduced energy bills and savings of up to £350 each year

Increased property value


Find Out Much a New Boiler Will Cost You


Back to top



Are There Any Drawbacks to Applying for the ECO Scheme?

There seem to be few disadvantages to claiming your free boiler, if you’re eligible.

However, you should be aware of:

You must have a broken or old, inefficient boiler

Not every home is entitled to a free boiler; council or housing association tenants will need to apply to their own schemes

Private tenants must get the landlord’s permission

You may be offered a repair, not a replacement (e.g. if your boiler is broken and isn’t classed as inefficient)

There may be an extra cost if a fitter needs to carry out additional work, above and beyond a standard replacement**

The scheme covers replacement gas boilers only (e.g. you won’t be covered if you have an oil-fueled boiler)

** The gas engineer should inform you of this before the installation.


Back to top



What Other Boiler Grants Are Available?

As well as the ECO scheme, these boiler grants are there to help low-income homes around the country:

  1. Affordable Warmth Obligation (AWO) scheme - Part of the ECO scheme
  2. Winter Fuel Payments - £100 to £300 towards your heating bills
  3. Warm Home Discount scheme - £140 discount on your energy bills
  4. Cold Weather Payment - £25 a week during very cold weather between November and March

government free boiler scheme

1. Affordable Warmth Obligation scheme

The Affordable Warmth scheme is another government grant that provides help with the cost of a new or repaired boiler, as well as other ways of saving on monthly bills (by saving energy).

Am I eligible? These grants are means tested, so you will need to be on specific benefits, and either a homeowner or private tenant.

A home owner of private tenant

Receiving certain benefits

Boiler over 8 years’ old


2. Winter Fuel Payments

Winter Fuel Payments are for anyone born on or before 5 November 1953, on any income. These are one-off yearly payments of between £100 and £300 depending on your circumstances

Am I eligible? All UK residents who meet these criteria are eligible to apply:

Born on or before 5 November 1953

On a state pension or select other benefits (including pension credit, jobseeker's allowance (JSA) or employment support allowance (ESA))

Lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 17 to 23 September 2018


3. Warm Home Discount scheme

The Warm House Discount scheme offers £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2018 to 2019 between September and March, and it does not affect any other government payments you receive.

Am I eligible? You will need to be getting pension credit and be on a low income to be accepted on this scheme.

Getting the Guarantee Credit element of pension credit

On a low income that meets your energy suppliers' criteria


4. Cold Weather Payment

The good news about temperatures dropping to zero degrees is the Cold Weather Payment government grant for certain benefit receivers and older people.

What counts as cold weather? If the average temperatures drop below zero for seven days in a row between 1 November 2018 and 31 March 2019, this payment becomes available.

Am I eligible? Everyone receiving pension credit in the UK is able to apply for this grant, as well as some people on income support with a disability or a child under 5 living with you.

Everyone on pension credit

People on benefits (including pension credit, jobseeker's allowance (JSA) or employment support allowance (ESA)), so long as:

You are living with an under 5-year-old or disabled child, or you get disability credit



What Are Your Options If You Don’t Qualify for a Free Boiler?

If you don’t qualify for a free boiler, and are keen to save on your replacement boiler, you have 3 main options:

  1. Buy a reliable boiler
  2. Rent a boiler
  3. Take out a boiler finance plan

1. Get a reliable boiler

Making sure you are getting a reliable boiler to start with can be one of the best investments you make to keep you from overpaying for your energy in the long run.

Boiler repairs cost £145 on average each time, so buying one that won’t let you down is a great way to save money. The best boilers can go 12 years without needing any repairs, which will save you £864 over 12 years (assuming you still get annual services of £72).

2. Rent a boiler?

Many people who are not eligible for a free boiler grant consider renting a boiler. But is this the best option for you?

Renting a boiler works like leasing a car. With low upfront costs, you pay for your boiler and installation at a set monthly fee, usually around £20 to £40 a month.

This option works well if you would rather avoid hefty upfront costs, and servicing and repairs are usually included within the rental fee. However, you won’t own your boiler until the lease ends.

That said, lease periods can be long, and Which? research found renting a boiler can cost £1,770 more than buying one in the long term.

Our tip: If you can afford it, buying a new boiler upfront will almost always work out cheaper, as there are no additional charges or interest to pay. You will own the boiler outright, and can start taking advantage of the savings from your energy bills right away.

3. Start a boiler finance plan

Boiler finance schemes are credit agreements that allow you to spread the cost of a new boiler over a fixed number of months.

These buy now, pay later finance schemes, mean you can own your boiler and have it installed right away, though of course, interest rates and additional charges will apply.


If you can afford a new boiler without the need for a grant, finance or backing of a Government scheme read more about new boiler costs or see our guide to the best boilers.


Next Step: How to Save If You're Not Eligible

Even if you're not able to get a new boiler through the ECO free boiler grant scheme, you can still save money by getting a great deal. To compare tailored quotes from a local boiler supplier, and make sure you're not paying too much on your energy bills, we've built a free tool below.

Now you can compare boiler quotes in just three steps:

  1. Fill in our form to tell us what you need
  2. Get matched the best boiler suppliers for you, and get to talk directly with them
  3. Compare the quotes, and see how much time and money you save

Just tap below to get started.


Could You Save With A New Boiler?

Select How Many Live In Your House To Find Out!


Boiler House

Back to top


Spread the Word!