Northumberland Home Upgrade Grant Explained: Warmer Homes Fund

The Northumberland Warmer Homes iniative, specifically the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) Phase 2, is one way eligable residents in the region can secure grant funding for solar panel installation and other renewable energy upgrades to their home.Up to £25,000 in grant money is avialable per successful applicants.

The UK government has allocated £12.4 million towards this initiative, the grant aims to enhance energy efficiency in homes across Northumberland, particularly those not connected to mains gas.

What is the Home Upgrade Grant?

The Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) Phase 2 is a pivotal component of the UK government’s Sustainable Warmth Strategy.

The grant is part of a broader commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to make Northumberland carbon-neutral by 2030.

Key Features of the Home Upgrade Grant:

  • Funding Allocation: Northumberland has secured £12.4 million for this phase of the grant, reflecting the government’s significant investment in sustainable home improvements.
  • Target Audience: The grant primarily focuses on properties in Northumberland that rely on non-mains gas sources for heating, such as oil, LPG, electric heaters, or coal.
  • Improvement Scope: The grant covers a range of energy efficiency upgrades, including the installation of loft, cavity wall, internal wall, or underfloor insulation, air source heat pumps, and solar panels.
  • Eligibility: Eligible properties include owner-occupied and privately owned homes, particularly those with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower.
  • Financial Impact: The grant aims to reduce the annual energy bills for households, promoting both financial savings and environmental sustainability.

By leveraging the Home Upgrade Grant, residents of Northumberland can significantly enhance their home’s energy efficiency, contribute to environmental conservation, and reduce their carbon footprint.

HUG Phase 2 Eligibility Criteria

  • Residential Location: Applicants must reside in Northumberland, ensuring local impact and relevance.
  • Property Energy Rating: Homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D, E, F, or G are prioritized. This focus targets properties that stand to benefit most from energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Income Thresholds: The grant is accessible to households with a total annual gross income of £31,000 or less. This includes all household members’ incomes, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of financial need.
  • Benefit Recipients: Households receiving means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Council Tax Benefit (excluding single person discount), or Tax Credits, automatically qualify, addressing the needs of lower-income families.
  • Special Considerations for Park Homes: Park homes are eligible, with an EPC not required, broadening the grant’s reach.

Additional Points for Applicants:

  • Landlord-Tenant Agreements: In cases of privately rented properties, both landlords and tenants must mutually agree to apply for the grant. This collaboration is essential for rented properties to benefit from the grant.
  • Priority to Worst EPC Ratings: Homes with the poorest EPC ratings are given priority, ensuring that the grant effectively targets those properties that require the most urgent energy efficiency improvements.

How To Apply

If you think you are eligable for the Home Upgrade Scheme then here’s how to apply:

Step-by-Step Application Process:

  1. Online Registration: Begin by registering your interest online at the Northumberland County Council’s official Warmer Homes Fund page. This initial step is crucial for entering the grant process.
  2. Documentation Submission: Applicants are required to submit relevant documents to prove eligibility. This includes evidence of income (like payslips or tax returns), proof of property ownership, and current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings if available.
  3. Income Evidence: For a comprehensive assessment, each adult resident at the address must provide evidence of income. This can include means-tested benefit letters, recent bank statements, or payslips.
  4. Landlord-Tenant Agreement: If the property is rented, a mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant is necessary. Landlords may need to contribute towards the retrofit assessment and installation costs.
  5. Eligibility Confirmation: Once your application and documents are submitted, the council will review them to confirm your eligibility. This process may take several weeks due to high demand.
  6. Property Assessment: Eligible applicants will receive a visit from a certified retrofit assessor to evaluate the property and suggest appropriate energy-saving measures.
  7. Grant Approval and Implementation: After approval, the recommended energy efficiency improvements, which may include solar panel installations, can commence.

Note: Key Considerations for Applicants:

Due to the high demand for the grant, applicants should be prepared for a waiting period between application submission and confirmation of eligibility. This can be as high as 4-6 weeks.

What To Accept After Approval

Once your application for the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) Phase 2 is approved, a series of steps will follow to ensure the effective implementation of energy efficiency measures in your home. At Northumberland Solar, we understand the importance of clear communication and guidance during this phase, especially for those looking to integrate solar solutions into their homes.

Post-Approval Process:

  1. Retrofit Assessment: A certified retrofit assessor will visit your property to conduct a thorough evaluation. This assessment is crucial for identifying the most suitable energy-saving improvements for your home, including the potential for solar panel installation.
  2. Energy-Saving Plan Development: Based on the assessment, a personalized energy-saving plan will be created. This plan outlines the recommended improvements tailored to your property’s specific needs and characteristics.
  3. Implementation of Upgrades: Once the plan is finalized, the installation of the proposed energy efficiency measures begins. For solar panel installations, Northumberland Solar can provide expert services aligned with the grant’s guidelines.
  4. Quality and Compliance Checks: All installations and upgrades will be carried out in compliance with relevant standards and regulations to ensure quality and safety. This includes adherence to the Building Emissions Reduction Standard (BERS) and other industry benchmarks.
  5. Follow-Up Support: After the installation, there may be follow-up checks to ensure the upgrades are functioning as intended and delivering the expected energy efficiency benefits.
What types of properties are eligible for the HUG Phase 2?

Eligible properties include those not connected to mains gas, particularly with EPC ratings of D, E, F, or G. This includes owner-occupied and privately rented homes in Northumberland.

How much funding can an eligible household receive?

Households can receive up to £25,000, depending on property and heating type, to cover various energy efficiency improvements, including solar panel installations.

Are solar panels covered under the grant?

Yes, solar panels are among the energy-saving improvements covered by the grant, aligning with the goal of enhancing renewable energy use in homes.

What is the income threshold for eligibility?

The grant is available to households with a total annual gross income of £31,000 or less, including all household members’ incomes.

Can landlords apply for the grant?

Landlords can apply in agreement with their tenants, provided the property meets the eligibility criteria. Landlords may be required to contribute towards retrofit assessment costs.

What happens after my application is approved?

After approval, a retrofit assessment will be conducted, followed by the development of an energy-saving plan and the implementation of the recommended measures.

Is there a deadline to apply for the grant?

While there's no specific deadline mentioned, it's advisable to apply as soon as possible due to high demand and limited funding availability.