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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Apply now to take advantage of heating and insulation measures before winter approaches

There are a number of schemes available to help people who are living with fuel poverty.  It’s important to apply quickly if you are interested in these schemes as the funding can run out quite quickly if there are large demands on the grants.

Phoenix offers for new customers

Phoenix Gas provides various incentives to people who are thinking about installing gas in their homes.  Unlike many other grants, these are not all means tested, but you will need to meet certain conditions in order to apply.  Grants are available to help people who are

  • aged over 60 and own their home
  • homeowners or landlords who wish to change the heating system from Economy 7 to gas
  • resident homeowners who moved into a new home between January 2014 and September 2015 and
  • homeowners who live in an area that was first connected to the Phoenix Gas network in 2013 or 2014.

Phoenix also offers free connection to a natural gas meter for properties which have never been connected to a gas network before.  The free connection offer can be used in conjunction with the offers mentioned above.  Many of these offers will expire at the end of September, so contact Phoenix now if you're interested. 

Grants for insulation and heating systems

Every year the NI Sustainable Energy Programme publishes a list of grants.  These grants are provided by private energy companies.  The grants can help with the cost of insulation, replacement heating systems and energy efficient lighting

Each grant has its own eligibility criteria and you need to be on a low income to qualify for many of them.   The grants open in April each year.  By December, the money is often used up so you should apply as soon as you can.

Boiler replacement

Homeowners who have an oil heating boiler which is over 15 years old and inefficient can apply for a Boiler Replacement Allowance.  You can apply if your annual household income is less than £40,000. The maximum allowance is £1,000.

The amount of money that you will get depends on your income.  If your household income is less than £20,000 the basic grant is £700.  This will increase to £1,000 if you have to install controls as well as a boiler.

If you earn between £20,000 and £40,000 the boiler grant will be £400, rising to £500 if controls need to be installed.

You are free to choose your own installer.  Where the engineer is working with gas, s/he must be a registered Gas Safe engineer. If you are installing a new boiler, you must apply to your local council for Building Control approval. The Building Control fee will not be covered by the grant.

The Housing Executive manages applications for this allowance.  To find out if you are eligible for the grant, call 0300 200 7874 or register by email. The Boiler Replacement Allowance will close on 31 March 2016.

Grants for renewable heating systems

You may be entitled to ongoing financial help if you are switching your conventional heating system to certain types of renewable heating sources. This government grant is called a Renewable Heat Incentive.  

The amount of financial help you will get depends on the type of system you install.  If eligible, you will receive an upfront payment and an ongoing annual payment.  The annual payment will be paid for seven years and is based on a tariff system. The upfront payment will be

  • £2500 if installing a biomass boiler
  • £1700 if installing air source heat pumps
  • £3500 if installing ground source heat pumps
  • £320 if installing solar thermal panels for heating water.

You may also get help from this scheme if you installed a replacement renewable heating system since 1 September 2010. If you were receiving financial support under the Renewal Heat Premium Payment Scheme (RHPP) introduced in May 2012, you should be able to get your system accredited for the Renewable Heat Incentive..

Affordable Warmth Grant

Homeowners and private tenants living in areas with high levels of fuel poverty may be eligible to an Affordable Warmth Grant.  Your council should write to you if it thinks you are eligible to apply for this scheme.  If you haven't received a letter from the council, but think that your property should be included in the scheme, contact your local council and ask to speak to the building control department about the Affordable Warmth Grant. 

To qualify for help under this scheme, you need to be earning less than £20,000 a year.  If you rent privately, you'll need your landlord's permission before any work can go ahead and your landlord will have to pay 50% of the cost of the work.  The maximum amount that will be spent on any one property is £7,500.  If your property is selected for solid wall insulation, this can increase to £10,000. 

If you get a letter about this scheme, fill in the enclosed survey and send it back to the council.  The council will send all the responses it receives to the Housing Executive.  The Housing Executive will then visit householders to check that they are eligible for the scheme and to inspect their properties to see what work is necessary. 

If a property needs a lot of work, you'll normally be asked to start by insulating your home.  If this doesn't improve the situation you may be allowed to replace the heating system or repair or replace your windows.  You shouldn't do any work until you've received a formal certificate of approval from the council, explaining what work you are authorised to do. 

Landlords or private tenancies will be expected to contribute 50% of the costs of the improvement works.

Tagged In

Private Tenancies, Practical tips, Affordability

This article was written on 2 September 2015. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.