/ Home & Energy

Free insulation offers – is there a catch?


With temperatures dropping, most of us have started turning the heat up. But half of that heat could be escaping through your home’s walls and roof. Energy suppliers are offering free insulation – so what’s the catch?

Well, there might not actually be one.

With energy bills going up, it’s natural to be a bit wary of anything gas and electricity companies are offering for free.

However, the major suppliers (British Gas, Npower, EDF Energy, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power and Eon) have been obliged to help people reduce carbon emissions from their homes.

This is driven by the government’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (Cert) scheme. Under the scheme, gas and electricity companies have emissions targets to meet, and as such should help households get insulation fitted.

To do this, they mainly offer free or discounted insulation – about 1.6 million cavity walls and two million lofts have been professionally insulated using Cert funding since it was introduced.

How much could you save? Up to £175 a year on your heating bills by insulating your loft; up to £135 a year by insulating cavity walls; and around £445 to £475 a year by insulating solid walls.

Free insulation offers roll in

Until this winter, most energy companies have been offering free insulation to those customers that fall into the ‘priority’ group: vulnerable and low-income households, including those in receipt of eligible benefits and pensioners over the age of 70.

As part of our Affordable Energy Campaign, Which? is now asking energy companies to offer free insulation to all. We’re happy that two companies are now doing this.

British Gas is offering free loft and wall insulation to their energy and HomeCare customers. There are eligibility criteria (such as having no more than 60mm of loft insulation at the moment) but most should qualify. You’ll have to apply before 22 December by calling 0800 980 8177 or visiting the British Gas website.

EDF Energy is also offering free insulation, but you don’t have to be an EDF customer to qualify – anyone can apply. However, you will also have to fulfil some eligibility criteria (at least two-thirds of your loft and wall space need to be available to insulate for example) and you’ll have to apply before 31 March 2012 by calling 0800 015 7786 or going to EDF’s website.

When I applied with EDF Energy

My house is in need of insulation, so I went straight onto EDF Energy’s website and filled in its application form. A few days letter an odd letter from EDF came through the post. It was meant to tell me who the contractor would be to survey my property and how to get in touch with them. Instead, all the fields were left blank.

We immediately reported this to EDF Energy, who told us that it was on it and that this problem had only affected around 500 people. All of these 500, including myself, will apparently be sent a remedial letter with all the right details filled in.

Perhaps you’ve tried to get free insulation installed but have had troubles, like me? If you haven’t benefited from free insulation, what’s stopping you? And if you have had it installed, has it made a difference to your heating bills?

Jnet says:
8 February 2014

I had cavity wall insulation installed 9 years ago. Having damp patches and paint peeling off the walls I removed the skirting board and a brick to find the cotton wool like insulation soaking/dripping wet. The company who installed it no longer exists. CIGA are mentioned on the guarantee and if what I have read from reviews on the internet CIGA will not be very helpful. I feel I want to get the insulation extracted so that the cavity can dry out and find myself not knowing who I can trust to approach about this problem.

Gill and Tony says:
10 March 2014

Cavity wall insulation done in 2009, currently in dispute with SIG management regarding damp showing on the interior of the house. Full height end gable wall. The company want to remove the insulation, saying the wall will then dry out!!
We are left with a full redoration of that wall, to include removal and renew plaster and then re-decorate.
We have been in this house after watching it being built in 1961, never have experienced any damo before the insulation put in.
We are told it is due to the porosity of the bricks!! Rubbish the cavity wall is designed to allow any damp to ‘go’ to ground, the ties have had the insulation gather on them therefore the damp cannot ‘go’ to ground therefore has caused contamination on the interior wall.
The company are treating us as if we are idiots.
What can we do next?

I hope you have had your problems rectified. We have set up a pressure group CIVALLI as we have been treated in the same way

Had walls insulated 3 weeks ago, they removed the old foam? and filled the cavity with wool, must say it feels a LOT COLDER NOW, Think twice before you get this done.

Whole scheme is a nightmare, no one knows the terms, rules or anything. 12 months trying to get loft, solid wall, room in roof and cavity wall insulation, 12 EPC and green deals later, I could insulate my home with EPCs. One company after a year said they would do all the insulation, loft, walls, rom in roof, gave me 6 days, yes SIX to have all electrics and plumbing removed when I had not managed it, said I was too late funding had ended!!! The Energy companies a joke, SSE said not cost effective for them to do it!! as 1/3 is cavity and 2/3 solid wall, I had to have 50% of one or the other!! British Gas my home not suitable, as head room in loft too low for safety, “in case the installer had a heart attack they would not be able to get paramedics in”!!!! told me to get a relative to do it!! E-ON no help, Scottish power 6 months and still waiting, EDF at last agreed to do the loft and cavity wall, sent EVERWARM to do it, loft insulation fine (I think as I cannot get up to check it) cavity wall insulation a mess damaged all the plants in the garden snapping off and trampling on them. Everwarm don’t reply to e mails either, can get no further with solid wall insulation or room in roof, the DECC and whoever came up with these complicated schemes, rules and grants needs to be put against a wall and shot. How many schemes are there? and the Green deal is a total joke, money for the surveyors and EPC reports, supposed to be valid for 10 years so why have I had more then 10 in less then 10 months!!

annie says:
30 July 2014

Has anyone had any expereince with cavity wall insulation from Everwarm? Good or bad?

Taking these clowns to court and was given an extract decree , still chasing them . Unbelievable bunch of cowboys.

Margot Hadden says:
21 April 2021

Total cowboys

annie says:
30 July 2014

has anyone had expereince with Everwarm for cavity wall insulation?

Gary Thomas says:
10 September 2014

I contacted British Gas after receiving leaflet re free cavity wall insulation. The house was built in 1882 before building regs required cavity wall insulation. Also another company had recently drilled the walls to make sure there was no cavity wall insulation already, and confirmed that there wasn’t ( I didn’t go ahead with the work at that time as I was suspicious about the “free”).
However, when British Gas checked, an energy assessor who assessed our house the previous year for energy rating, when we were intending to sell, had reported “assumed” cavity wall insulation in place.
Because of this, British Gas would not undertake the work even though it would have been evident to the insulation team that there was none. Instead they said we had to make a complaint to the assessor who stated “assumed the house has cavity wall insulation” when undertaking the energy rating assessment. As we don’t know who this was to complain to, seems we can’t have the work done under the Government scheme, even though we qualify for it !!!

Dave Dando says:
17 October 2014

I am building an extension above my garage to move into can I get free insulation I am registered disabled

Thomas Maitland says:
3 December 2014

Is there some scheme that would supply me draught proofing strips for 6 doors in my flat that I could fit myself , all for free ?

Palmer says:
3 December 2014

I’ve had 5 companies in the last year drilling walls outside the house. They said we can insulate your house, then they all go away when the days arrives to insulate. Did a simple U turn saying all sorts of excuses – sorry the cavity is too large, sorry the cavity is too small, sorry the wall is made of concrete. I am fed up and I am seeking compensation for holes in my walls.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Alan Leach says:
9 March 2015

Has anyone had difficulties getting a roof repaired when it has been insulated with foam. The only way forward would appear to be a new roof with a breathable membrane. Your comments would be much appreciated

Last year had cavity wall insulation put in free through the government scheme. Within months damp patches appeared. Complained to the company Everwarm Bathgate. After several calls, letters
emails and recorded delivery letters a supervisor came out and inspected it. The job had not been done properly he said and it would be repaired. Weeks later after more calls letters etc two nice young men came out too remove old stuff. They drilled 130+ holes in my walls and have left it for a week. Will let you know next chapter when its done.

I hope you have had it rectified. Sadly this is a typical outcome and response. A group of us set up CIVALLI after our homes were badly damaged. I recommend you write to info@Bonfieldreview.com as Dr Bonfield has been commissioned by DECC to write a report, part of which is the consumer journey. If it isn’t rectified we can help you apply pressure for free to have your home restored to its pre CWI condition.

JOHN says:
11 January 2016

Just to let all of you people who are thinking of a boiler being installed by Everwarm do not as I had one installed by the cowboys who are sub contracted by Everwarm yes they let them put the name on there vans came to do the job without the right tools first day second day fitted the boiler third day roof came in on us due to a leak that they said was old pipping yes they put a new boiler onto old pipping after having gave a major operation and having to deal with all this mess there was not even a sorry for your inconvienence from the cowboy s so be ware if they ask you about installing a new boiler yes I am Mr Aitken

Mike Everson says:
31 January 2016

Can I just put a few people right on the insulation grants, since 2012 the government changed the way insulation companies get paid before ECO funding which we have now it was CERT funded and was paid on house type .
This has now changed and a lot of you would have had to have a EPC report before the insulation measures were installed this is because they are now payed on the amount of carbon tonnage a house saves,
You may not be aware but insulation companies are making little if not losing money insulating your homes apart from BG you will not get many local companies wanting to insulate your homes and as for cavity wall insulation BG will not insulate a house built after 1982 because a SAP report from a chartered surveyor has to be done at more cost try it give them a call today they will tell you it’s already insulated even though you know it’s not.
Don’t blame the companies out there you pay peanuts you get monkeys blame the government who are making it impossible for companies to insulate the small terraced house that needs insulating due to the amount of carbon it saves.

can anyone tell me if Tameside insulation ltd are still operating. I had cavity wall insulation in 2009 and have now got awful damp all down the one side of my house. a reputable building firm have told me I need to get this all removed as it soaks up water which is now all showing on my inside walls. Can anyone help please or have any suggestions.

Hi there , we are a pressure group formed after our homes were badly damaged by cavity wall insulation CIVALLI . We help people for free to gain justice. Please read John Denham MP’s debate 3/2/15 on Hansard. You are one of many thousands.

Heather, you can check this out on companies house. I think they have liquidated and it appears that some of the directors have set up a new insulating business under a different name. Your best bet it is to use your guarantee but let us know if you have any difficulties with this. 🙂

Hi..I have had the same problem with cavity wall..My home is a mess and is going to cost a fortune to get put right..money which I don’t have..I contacted Ciga and there was no guarantee they told me..Where do I go from here..

Jo Blake says:
7 March 2016

My thoughts on Everwarm Bathgate
I have just finally had them come out to rectify the appalling job they did in November. despite constant calls from me that the poly beading was coming adrift and leaving mine and several neighbours properties looking like a Christmas scene, they failed to keep their appointments, never let me me know why they hadnt bothered coming back and were totally dismissive of me when i complained. I finally lost my temper with them and threatened id write to the media, MP etc and they suddenly sorted it. A planned meeting with one of their managers to discuss my complaint and request for compensation for leaving us with huge bills trying to heat a house with drafts you could fly a kite in ended up with them not bothering to turn up or contact me. I am now taking this further. Im still waiting for the solar panels which havent been fitted due to the tiles being the wrong type. Angry doesnt even come close to describe how I feel about these cowboys.

I run a voluntary, free helpline for victims of failed retrofit cavity wall insulation called CIVALLI – Cavity Insulation Victims Alliance (www.civalli.com). It was set up as a result of experiencing the hugely distressing experience of trying to gain justice for a botched insulation on my home which caused extensive mould and damp.

We have been contacted by approximately 1000 cases in the last 2.5 years.

I strongly recommend that anyone contemplating having cwi installed in their home do their research thoroughly. There is a massive failure rate across the country that causes utter misery and respiratory health problems.

I have spent over three years on this game of trying to get insulation, heating and hot water, still have non, all these “experts” actually know very little, just ask installers, non have a good word for them, I paid £10,000 for two bore holes for a heat pump, by an approved expert, MCS, Napit, RECC, Trustmark, REA, etc etc did it wrong, holes wrong place, pipes fitted wrong, damaged my property, but non of these bodies are interested, so I have two £10,000 holes, no heating or hot water. Everwarm, Home energy Scotland and EST are all terrible, and a complete waste of time, best bet is avoid at all costs.

I was cold called be GER Southern and let them come to give estimate for roof insulation. Assessor very gung ho attitude, walked in demanding toilet, spent a long time, then broke the flush leaving me with a broken toilet. Knocked washing off hanger where I had put it, didn’t notice. Did assessment but when he realised I was still listening to the continuing running toilet he had broken, got up to leave and deliberately walked over my antique rug which I had given him over shoes to protect. I know I am fussy about my house, but upsetting experience and expensive to get toilet mended.

I hope you will not give the company a contract, Lalage. What a way to treat someone’s home.

With any luck there will be an isolation valve in the cold water pipe that enters the toilet cistern [often underneath but it can also be from the side]. This will need just a half-turn with a flat-head screwdriver to stop the water flow until you can get it mended. It’s inconvenient but the valve can be opened and closed as required to enable the toilet to continue in use. If there is no valve, the ball-c**k arm inside the cistern has to be kept up above the fill level to prevent continuous flowing. If water has discharged through the overflow pipe check that it is not running onto the fabric of the property as it will soon leave a white water stain on the surface if you are in a hard water area and could cause dampness in the structure. In modern toilets the cistern overflow is diverted into the pan but continuous flowing will leave a build-up of limescale which will need frequent attention. I hope you can get the toilet repaired quickly.

You were prompted to have the loft insulated by a cold call. There are plenty of insulation contractors and in a month or so’s time there will be better prices or discounts on loft insulation as summer approaches. You could look at Which? Trusted Traders to find a recommended company – see http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk

It would be useful for you to speak to your energy supplier(s) as they can often undertake economical loft insulation to the approved standard and give worthwhile guarantees, especially the bigger companies. You might be eligible for a reduced-cost installation. See the Introduction to this Conversation for references to the British Gas and EDF schemes.

NOIRIN says:
23 October 2020

Despite been given Ever Warm as a contact by Simple Energy as listed assessors for the Green Deal Government scheme it has been impossible to communicate with them. Since this is the first step in the process it is impossible to avail of this scheme. simply want to insulate loft , doors and windows.