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Free insulation offers – is there a catch?

insulation

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?

Comments
Member

YES THERE IS A CATCH.
It is rather a nasty one as far as I am concerned. We were measured up for extra loft insulation at £xxx. The surveyor was very nice, and most helpful.

Then team 01 came to fit the loft insulation – and wouldn’t because there was already insulation there. I explained this was a top up. They said they were not allowed to put extra insulation on top. They would have to remove the old insulation, then lay the new stuff. That was not the agreement; and I certainly didn’t want to lose the 12 ” we had already, for 6″ they were going to lay. This was beyond their grasp. So – back to the drawing board.

Team 02 arrived – yes they could do that – on top of the existing insulation – I was there when they started, and they were burying the wiring – ring mains and lighting circuits – I had to stop them. I explained that the current wires must not be sandwiched between layers of insulation;and please get the wires on top of the new insulation. They said they never do that, I explained the building regs say the wire can be all underneath, or all on top, but not between insulation, as it’s a fire risk. That wasn’t agreed, that they would lift the wires, and lay underneath.

Team 03 – yes lay on top, yes lift wires – great. The measurement was fairly accurate, as I had measured, as we were going to do it ourselves. The bought in all the insulation we had paid for, and laid the new top up as agreed, on top of existing insulation, and under wires. At the end, they went off with 5 or 6 large rolls of insulation, and when I inspected the loft, they hadn’t laid on the timber walk ways. Upon inquiry, I was advised they don’t, despite being advised that the loft was not going to be used for storage. OK – so please leave the insulation I have paid for, but no – I had paid for a top up. Although I mentioned the surveyor had not taken out the area of walkways in his measurements, so the insulation was technically ours. Again, regrettably “no”.

So we paid for – and lost – 5 or 6 rolls of insulation. I got extra, and did it myself. But I feel it was all a bit of a scam, and boy – do you have to watch them. Especially with the laying insulation on top of wires, thereby sandwiching the wires between layers of insulation. I wouldn’t do it again, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, as I wouldn’t like to be involved with the building regulations regarding wiring; and the fitters don’t seem to know. I was not impressed with the training.

Member

Absolutely agree – it’s jus the same as the atrocious and downright life-threatening c**k-ups that the cavity wall cowboy teams working for the energy firms leave behind – as detailed by many contributors on the covo about CWI earlier this year.

I had my loft insulation topped up by my local builder who I use for most small maintenance jobs. He charged me £45 for half a day’s work and I got he insulation at just £1.98 per TWO rolls from Wickes under one of the EDF subsidies that Wickes are participating in. Total cost incl. labout less than £75 and the peace of mind of knowing that every inch has been done, the soffit cents have NOT been blocked so I should not have any damp issues and all electric cables completely as per regs and therefore hopefully safe.

OK, so I know it wasn’t “FREE”, but the “FREE” deals will cost a damn site more than £75 if people’s houses burn down, roof timbers rot due to condensation or energy savings are poor or nil due to missing insulation.

I’d NEVER trust a “free” contractor working for an energy supplier – might as well ask an arsonist to fire-proof my home.

Member
willie078 says:
22 November 2011

Has anyone ever used the foil you put behind your radiators to reflect the heat from the walls ??

Member

willie078,
Heat is transmitted in three ways, conduction (physical link), convection (air circulation) and radiation (like sunlight).
Although we call them radiators they actually work mostly by convection.
Foil behind “radiators” on an outside wall help but only a little, The insulation value of the wall counts for more.
However foil radiator backing is cheap so perhaps “every little helps”
Those little fan units which direct warm air rising off a radiator into a room are better, but there is no subsitute for good overall insulation in walls, roof and even floor.

Member
Christine Morrison says:
26 November 2011

I had an Energy Saving Trust survey done for subsidised loft insulation to top up what I had installed some years ago. Unfortunately, I live in a chalet bungalow and the loft height was below the scheme’s minimum access height. So, no deal. I asked whether I could have the insulation and install it myself but the answer was no. Ergo, it’s O.K. for a pensioner to get up into the loft to do the job but not for a fit young man!

Member
Harry Clark says:
10 December 2011

I recently changed my energy provider to British Gas who operate as Scottish Gas where I live not long after I received a notification letter informing me of rate increases which contained details offering free home insulation and giving a telephone number which I duly called to request “an Energy Expert to carry out a survey” their words this call turned out to be a question and answer session where I was asked a number of questions on when my home was built the building type and room numbers etc etc etc, I did keep asking about the survey by the Energy Expert to no avail only to be told in the end that because my 30 year old house was built with two layers of concrete blocks with a cavity that British Gas were only able to do cavity wall insulation on brick built houses since to drill through concrete block constructed walls could cause structural damage when I pointed out that around two thirds of the houses in our estate all built with concrete blocks had already been done they responded by again saying that British Gas could not do this at this point I gave up not wishing to waste any more of my money on this phone call , as it happens a few days later my next door neighbor knocked on my door to ask my permission for a home insulation company to have access to my garden when they came to do his cavity wall insulation , when I asked him who had arranged the survey for him he informed me it was Scottish Hydro Electric which just happens to be his employer on the following day he gave us a Scottish Hydro Electric application form offering free home insulation by filling in and returning the form even if you are not a customer , we duly filled in and posted the form we received a reply on 08 November 2012 stating that we would be contacted within the next 21 days to arrange a suitable time to call and survey our property , this is now the 10th December and guess what we are still waiting , This being our second failed attempt to get this work done set me to wondering why this should be so I visited the Energy Savings Trust web site where I went through the progress of again filling in all my personal and property details through the various pages when this was submitted the reply came back that there were no grants available in my area so they were unable to further process my request ? , quite how this relates to energy suppliers widely miss advertising that they offer “free home insulation” should perhaps be further looked into ?

Regards HC

Member
Madonna Lloyd says:
7 February 2012

Tameside Insulation are laying loft insulation and cavity wall insulation to my property. There are no reviews on this company. Has anyone used this company. Can I please have some feedback.

Member
Beverley says:
1 May 2012

I note that you have recently had insulation installed in your property. Could you let me know how the procedure went and if you are satisfied with the results. The reason why I enquire is that I have just had a visit from the company and would like to know if anyone else has taken advantage of their free offer ?.