Green Homes Grants explained

                   Green Homes Grant

For our Horsham Future Forum (HFF) meeting on the 29th of September, we were joined by Tom Bragg, from Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Open Eco Homes, to explain to us how the Green Homes grant works. The purpose of his talk was to go through the details of these grants to help people understand how to apply for them. Tom was also joined by Soren from Warmer Sussex, to provide his insight to people (learn more about Warmer Sussex and listen to Soren’s podcast here)

He started off with a poll asking the participants of the HFF about their intentions about applying for the grant, and what they might want to install. Only 28% of participants said Yes or Probably, with a much higher percentage, 68%, responding with a maybe, so hopefully the clarifications provided through Tom’s talk has encouraged people to apply. The installation that was the most popular was low carbon heating (such as heat pump or solar thermal) at 88%, followed by insulation (48%), draught proofing (28%) and windows and doors (20%). As this was a multiple option question, some people might have chosen more than one option.

Firstly he explained about the scheme, and secondly discussed all the energy saving measures that you could decide from to implement in your house. The main points to remember are:

  • Homeowner or residential landlord you can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher

    Listen to this podcast

  • The provided voucher can cover up to £5000, and up to 2/3rds of the total cost (if you receive governmental benefits, the homeowner can be eligible for up to a £10,000 full grant) – if the total cost is £6000, the grant will cover £4000 and you pay £2000
  • The Primary measure caps the secondary measure – if your primary measure is going to cost £3000, your secondary measure can be up to £3000
  • Scheme starts end September
  • Work can only be carried out by a registered installer, these installers can be found on these sites Simple Energy Advice and Trustmark
  • Work needs to be completed by the 31st of March 2021
  • You need to have a plan of what work you want done before you get your quotes, because there isn’t much time to complete the work, so plan what you want. This is where the Warmer Sussex whole house plan (survey) can help.

         View Tom’s presentation here

Tom then went into each of the energy saving measures in detail. Primary measures fall into 2 main categories, Insulation and Low Carbon Heat. His presentation is very comprehensive, but hints and tips to keep in mind included:

  • Insulation:
    • Loft – this scheme only covers ‘topping up’ your insulation, not a complete insulation install, and it can still be done even if you have lots of stuff in your loft, as you can get little stilts, but you do need ventilation
    • Cavity wall – look for clues (regular pattern of brick and small bore holes) that you already have this insulation
    • Solid wall – often in houses before the 1930s, you can do internal and external wall insulation, but this type of measure needs an expert
    • Under floor – this type of insulation helps keep external air from coming into your house from underneath
    • Flat roof – can be applied externally or internally, but is usually external
    • Park homes – this includes prefab on residential sites, not homeowners, again is often a specialist job
  • Low Carbon Heat
    • Heat pumps – really effective heating, for example for every 1kw of heat that enters the system, 3-5 kws of heat is produced
      • Air source – looks like an AC unit, takes the heat from the air
      • Ground source – usually need a big garden, about 1.5x the area of the floor area of your house, is possible to do a bore hole, but this is more expensive
    • Solar Thermal – evacuated tube collectors are very effective, but they are not part of the Green Homes grant, however if you are interested in this, there are collaborations in Sussex with Solar Together, and possibilities of group buying schemes
    • Biomass boilers
      • Wood pellet burners – issues are that they are not useful to many people

Secondary measures fall into five main categories, draught proofing, double/triple glazed windows, secondary glazing, external energy efficient doors and hot water tank insulation, thermostats and heating controls. There are more restrictions regarding what is actually covered as a secondary measure, and some hints and tips to keep in mind for the secondary measures is noted below:

  • draught proofing – the Green House grant can help pay for an ‘air tightness’ test, to check where your draughts are
  • double/triple glazed windows – grant can only be used where double or triple glazing is replacing single glazing
  • secondary glazing – again, grant can only be used when replacing single glazing, HOWEVER, you can do your own DIY version of this with film or magneglaze.
  • external energy efficient doors – grant can only be used for replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002
  • hot water tank insulation, thermostats and heating controls – in addition to thermostats and insulation for your hot water tank, having an effective heating control is important, such as smart controls, zone controls, intelligent thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves. These controls can learn the pattern of the use in your house, and are easily controlled with an app.

So, how can you apply for this grant?

  • Go to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to check eligibility, which is only that you are a homeowner or landlord in England. Don’t forget that if anyone in your household is receiving benefits, you are eligible for a £10,000 full grant).
  • You have to build your plan on the SEA website, based on what is doable in your house, the length of time to complete, what measures you want, and what the cost is. Remember that even though it might not appear you are having a huge yearly savings, it’s also about the environment and making you more comfortable
  • Get Quotes for your plan – Tom recommended that you get 3 quotes. All your quotes have to come from installers that are registered with Trustmark, SEA or the MCS scheme (for low carbon heat).
    1. Note: Tom used an example of registered window installer – there aren’t any window installers in Horsham registered with SEA (nearest is London), but there are several nearby (one in Horsham) registered with TrustMark. One of the reasons for this is that TrustMark installers can get registered without a pass standard certificate to 2030 (not all of them, but some), but these installers can’t work on the Green Homes grant, so check who you get to quote.
  • Then choose your quote, agree the timeframe with the installer and manage the work, apply for voucher, and the installer will finish work and redeem voucher by 31 March. You don’t have to choose the lowest quote, just the one you are happy with. Remember to have a snagging list – all the things to fix before the installer is finished.

There are pros and cons to this grant – on the plus side, it is free money, a good opportunity to get some extra money to improve your comfort, cut your carbon use and reduce bills, and provide employment and training to the installers. The disadvantages are that there are too few installers, there’s risks of lower quality with a rushed job, possibilities of delay to the work meaning it doesn’t finish by the deadline, some installers might push up their quote amount when they know the work is under the grant, and this idea is largely unknown and untested, and it is still uncertain how effective the scheme will be. Another thing to consider is if you can do the work without the grant, although hopefully more grant schemes will be coming.

​Here are some useful websites for extra reading:

UK Gov GHG pages: Green Homes Grant: make energy improvements to your home, and Apply for a Green Homes Grant

Carbon Neutral Cambridge, who have some good resources. Last year they organised a symposium to ‘accelerate the local transition to Net Zero Carbon by informing policy development for the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan’. Report here, which other councils have found useful. It points out (p16) that for a Local Plan to be valid the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states 23 that “every local plan in England has to have a carbon reduction trajectory in line with the Climate Act”.  Client Earth have sent ‘Lawyer’s Letters’ on this to 100 local authorities on this, including  Horsham District Council’.

This FoE guide: 20 actions parish and town councils can take on the climate and nature emergency (Oct’19) seems good, with useful references. PDF.

Centre for Sustainable Energy publish Neighbourhood planning in a climate emergency, with loads of detail and examples, mostly about sustainable neighbourhood plans, with some community actions, like renewable energy.

Some interesting questions came out of this talk, which are asked and answered below:

Mark: if there are limited installers and a limited time scale – will there be a mad dash before Christmas?

Tom: Probably – they are trying to get 2 billion into 600,000 houses, so if you know you are interested, get on it as soon as you can

Nick Bailey: Rumour that it costs more to bring a house back up to heat, so leave on full hat all the time – is this true?

Tom: this is a myth – if you are not in your home, you should turn off your heating.

Nick Bailey: New homes are only built with a fraction of their potential carbon savings, how can we push with councils like HDC?

Tom: Local authorities don’t have loads of power but can do more than they realise. He will share a report to Carrie Cort about the best way to persuade local authorities.

Mike Croker: Given the need for carbon neutrality by 2050 (preferably 2030!) isn’t there a risk that half measures installed under this scheme will need to be replaced in future (ie wasting resources)?

Tom: There are no half measures, but if you are replacing your door, get a good one. There is so much old housing, it all needs to be retrofitted, this is the biggest housing issue Britain has faced in decades.

Jon Olson: I do have a question about commencement.
And the date range, e.g. when can/could the work have started to qualify, seeing this was promised for a while for vague ‘end of September’.

Tom: it can’t have started yet, it has to be after the scheme opens. The website crashed last month, so it will be interesting to see how it goes when the scheme fully opens.

To sum up, Tom mentioned that despite the pros and cons, there still may be a real benefit and chance to make significant change but be ready for a few frustrations. Talk to councillors that are amenable and ask for their advice for how to approach councillors who might not have energy measures on their radar. Nick Bailey added “As Tony Whitbread might say, encourage your councillors, who have a lot they are seeking to positively do”.

Important energy websites for home owners and landlords:

Our clean renewable energy switching and cost comparison website, everyone we have helped switch at the Horsham Repair Cafe has saved between £90 and £366 a year!

Green Homes Grants –

Warmer Sussex –

Solar Together – – is run by iChoosr, who also run the ‘Big Community Switch’.   Their 2020 Annual Report says (p8): ‘Over the last eight years we have worked with over 160 councils across the UK’.

Important energy websites for schools:

Solar for Schools free solar for schools with no risk and lower energy prices –

FREE Ashden LESS C02 energy efficiency workshops, saving about £2700 and 10 tonnes of C02 per year –

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