Home Insulation – Why is it free?

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and when something is offered to us for nothing most people are quite understandably suspicious. It’s a question our energy surveyors are faced with quite often – why is it free, and what’s the catch? So who exactly is footing the bill for your lovely free loft or cavity wall insulation, and why are they feeling so generous?

First a quick recap

In recent years the world has started to realise that climate change is no longer something that can be swept under the rug and ignored – it is in fact a real problem that needs to be dealt with. So, on 11th December 1997 in Kyoto Japan, the Kyoto Protocol was introduced. This was an agreement between 37 industrialised countries (including the UK) to reduce and stabilise harmful greenhouse gasses. On 16th February 2005 the Kyoto Protocol came into full force, and targets were set to reduce emissions an “average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012 ”.

Air pollution

The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement between 37 industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gasses. Photo © Flickr user akeg.

In 2008, the UK government decided to go one step further, and announced an ambitious target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050, in an attempt to tackle climate change.

But what has this got to do with your loft insulation? Well…

…It’s all to do with CERT

The Government have committed to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. One of their plans to do this was to introduce CERT – the “Carbon Emissions Reduction Target” which was brought into effect in August 2008. It obliges energy providers to take steps to ensure that the amount of CO2 emissions from our homes is reduced. Or put it this way; the big six energy companies (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) MUST put their hands in their pockets to help you make your home more energy efficient. If they don’t they will have to face some pretty heavy fines. And it just so happens that loft & cavity wall insulation is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way for the big 6 to do this – and it’s a lot cheaper for them than paying the fines.

An easy way to understand it is like this. The big 6 all put money into a big pot, and when you get your insulation fitted, the installer puts their hand into the pot and takes the money to pay for the installation. It doesn’t cost you a penny.

How long will it last?

Free loft insulation being installed

Having your home properly insulated could reduce your energy bills by up to £310 (source: Energy Saving Trust)

In the past, only people receiving certain benefits were eligible to get their insulation for completely free — some could get grants to partially cover the cost, others would pay the full amount in order to save money on their bills. However, at the time of writing this article, EVERYBODY is entitled to free loft insulation if they currently have little or no insulation in their loft, and EVERYBODY can get their cavity walls insulated for free if they haven’t already been insulated.

Policies and government schemes do change all the time, so the best advice is don’t put it off — book an energy survey to find out if your home is suitable. If it is, you could save up to £310 a year in energy bills.

Sound too good to be true? Well now you know why.

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