The Energy Company Obligation (ECO), is a government energy efficiency scheme for households in the UK. In April last year the fourth iteration of the scheme started and will run until 2026. The objective of ECO4 is to improve the energy efficiency of housing stock occupied by low income and vulnerable households. The problem a lot of energy and housing providers face is identifying the households that are in need of, and qualify for funding.
Who qualifies for funding
To be eligible for ECO 4 funding, someone in the household must be a receipt of benefits, or live in a specific area. But there is also additional ECO + funding available for privately owned or rented properties with an EPC below C. The new ECO + scheme will extend support to those who do not currently benefit from other government support to upgrade their homes. This means that the government is offering support through energy providers to energy inefficient households, including housing associations tenants in properties with an EPC below C.
Why was ECO + introduced?
The ECO + scheme is supporting the government’s new ambition to reduce the UK’s final energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030, and is focused on rolling out predominantly low-cost insulation measures such as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation.
Currently 56% of all homes in the UK have an EPC under C, and based on the current rate of change the UK PRS is projected to average EPC C by 2033. Thanks to the new ECO 4 and ECO + support schemes, energy providers have a real opportunity to help with the decarbonisation of homes and reduce energy bills for the most in need.
What is the current uptake of ECO and ECO +
Since the initial ECO scheme launched in 2023, it has helped 2.4 million households install energy efficient upgrades in their homes. Yet energy providers have expressed concerns around identifying the households with low energy efficiency and most in need of support with their fuel bills. The ECO funding is also limited to certain energy efficient improvements such as loft and cavity wall insulation, and energy providers need to be able to identify the households that qualify for such improvements, which adds another level of complexity.
Why can’t regular EPC data accurately identify households most in need?
Warmer homes, cheaper bills, and a smaller carbon footprint for the most in need are all achievable with good data, yet these outcomes are restricted by the many failings of the EPC register. Whilst the EPC register is open source, and includes data for some 13 million properties, almost the same number of properties are missing from it, and what data it does store is produced by a methodology that is 10 years out of date. It is therefore very challenging for energy providers to accurately identify properties most in need of support through schemes such as ECO 4 and ECO +, ultimately delaying the progress we need to get UK housing to Net Zero in the next 27 years.
How Kamma can help housing associations identify qualifying properties
Kamma is building the single source of truth for environmental data relating to UK property. We’ve mined and modelled hundreds of information sources to give the most complete and accurate view of the environmental impact of the built environment. Kamma can help energy and housing providers identify the right homes and improvements for ECO funding by resolving the data issues to identify the under performing properties, prioritise the most impactful improvements, and accurately estimate costs. Targeting the most at need properties with the most cost effective solutions is more easily achievable than ever before.
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