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The UK Government funds schemes providing up to £3,500 to households on certain benefits (see below for examples of eligibility criteria) to improve their heating and energy efficiency. In England the scheme is known as Warm Front, in Northern Ireland it is Warm Homes, in Scotland it is the Energy Assistance Package and in Wales it is the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme. The eligibility criteria for the schemes differ between countries – with some schemes you need to be in receipt of certain benefits, whilst others are available to anyone over a certain age. Also on the horizon is a new initiative called the Green Deal due to be introduced in 2012.

Eligibility criteria

These are some examples of Warm Front eligibility criteria, available to those who own their own home or rent it from a private landlord.

Energy suppliers

The Government's Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) has been replaced by the Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT) – this means energy suppliers with a certain number of customers operating in Great Britain are obliged to achieve targets for improving home energy efficiency. The suppliers therefore provide a range of offers which significantly reduce the cost of installing energy efficiency measures. What's more, you can take up offers from any of the energy companies, regardless of who supplies your gas and electricity.

Local authorities

Most local authorities provide grants and offers for local residents to install certain energy efficiency measures in their home.

The Clean Energy Cashback or Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme

Householders that have installed small-scale renewable energy systems could receive up to £1,000 a year for the electricity they generate under a new government scheme launched in April 2010.

The scheme, known as the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme or Feed in Tariff (FIT), requires energy suppliers to make regular payments to householders and communities who generate their own electricity from renewable or low carbon sources such as solar electricity (PV) panels, hydroelectricity or wind turbines. Most forms of renewable electricity generation in all sizes up to 5 megawatts are eligible.

By generating their own low-carbon electricity this Government backed incentive scheme means that homeowners can, in the future, play a key role in contributing to UK emission reductions. Apart from improved energy efficiency the aim is to also help homeowners reduce their fuel bills.

The scheme potentially delivers a "package" of financial benefits for a homeowner: for any energy they produce and use themselves they will see a reduction in their electricity bill; a payment for all the electricity they produce, whether used by the household or any surplus exported into the national grid – in the latter case the homeowner gets an additional bonus payment.

According to Government figures a typical 2.5kW solar PV installation could offer a homeowner a reward of up to £900 and save them £140 a year on their electricity bill.

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