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This article by Cara Jenkinson was originally published on the Muswell Hill Sustainability Group's website.

The information event referred to in the final paragraph will be held via Zoom on 12th October. Palmers Green residents are invited too!

Under the new government Green Homes Grant scheme homeowners and landlords can get up to £5,000 to pay for energy saving improvements. According to the government, more than 600,000 people could benefit from the new proposals which aim to cut carbon in our homes as well as providing green jobs. We’re awaiting full details to be published – here’s what we know so far.

The government has split energy-efficient improvements into two groups – you have to apply for certain measures in order to get vouchers for others. The ‘primary’ measures are wall, loft and underfloor insulation and if you undertake one of these then you can also get funding for ‘secondary’ measures such as double and secondary glazing. 

How much could I get?

The vouchers will pay for at least two thirds of certain energy-saving measures. For example, if you wanted to fit insulation worth £4,000 in your home, you would pay £1,320 and the government would give you a voucher for the remaining £2,680. But the amount of vouchers you can get for energy-efficient improvements listed in the second group (see above) depends on the amount provided for the first measure. For example, if you get £1,000 worth of vouchers for insulation, then you would be able to get up to £1,000 towards a secondary measure, such as upgrading to double glazing or draught proofing.

You can also use the vouchers to install low carbon heating such as an air source heat pump or solar thermal panels for heating hot water, though your home will need to have wall insulation to be eligible.

All measures must be installed by 31st March 2021, which doesn’t leave much time!

What about quality?

Previous government grant and loan schemes for energy efficiency have had a mixed record in terms of the quality of the work done. This time the government is insisting that installers must be certified by Trustmark (or MCS for renewables). If you intend to get several measures installed (e.g wall insulation, new windows and renewable heating) you may want to use a retrofit co-ordinator – a new profession likely to be in high demand.

Can I insulate in a Conservation Area?

Most of the homes in Highgate have solid walls, and therefore cavity wall insulation isn’t relevant. The options are external or internal wall insulation, and if you are in a conservation area (most Highgate homes are) you should check with your local planning department. Local authorities are becoming more flexible in response to the climate emergency, with flank and rear wall insulation more likely to get consent.

How do I apply?

Applications will open at the end of September, and homeowners and landlords will apply through the Simple Energy Advice Service www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/grants. The website will provide a list of Trustmark and MCS accredited installers. You may also want to check a new service, www.ecofurb.com, which is a co-operative of London-based accredited installers. Ecofurb can advise on relevant measures and can also provide a retrofit co-ordinator (strongly recommended if you live in a house built before 1920).

Want to find out more?

You can get impartial advice from the Energy Savings Trust or from Which magazine. The Highgate Society Sustainable Living Group is intending to run an online information event on the Green Homes Grant in early Autumn. This will be run in partnership with Muswell Hill Sustainability Group, who are also running several Green Open Homes events featuring local homes where energy saving improvements have already been installed.

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