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Energy Company Obligation Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions

How does the funding work for ECO4 Flex?

The Government requires energy companies to spend money every year to help residents who are struggling to keep their homes warm, setting out schemes that specify how this money should be spent. The funding comes from the standing charges on our electricity bills. Ofgem determine what works and installs the energy companies can provide funding for.

To achieve the spend, the energy companies align themselves to contractors that can install the necessary measures and provide the monies individually for each qualifying property/household as the works are carried out. The Greater Manchester ECO4 flex scheme is delivered by approved contractors that are aligned to and receive funding from the energy companies.

Who sets the rules for the scheme?

The details and rules of this scheme are set by central government, with guidance from the regulatory body  Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity markets). Local Authorities  at present to do not have much say over these rules.   (ECO4, not ECO4 Flex, can be delivered by any contractor aligned to an energy company, completely independently of the local council.)    

Why are local authorities involved?

We want to help our residents access this funding that energy companies have, we understand the importance of living in a warm home and the benefits it can have to our local households. A warmer home means better health and living conditions. If your home is more energy efficiency, your energy bills should also be lower, and it is better for the planet!

Which local authorities are involved in the Greater Manchester Scheme?

For many years, the ten councils that are within Greater Manchester have worked closely together to bid for, receive monies and deliver energy saving schemes. This ECO4 flex scheme is the latest opportunity, with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority facilitating this scheme across all ten Greater Manchester Local Authority areas. The Combined Authority and ten councils are bringing forward this opportunity to ensure that qualifying properties/households can benefit from the works to help improve the quality of our homes (which in turn leads to better health outcomes), reduce energy bills and reduce our carbon footprint.

Why am I only being offered an air source heat pump, when want I really want is a new gas boiler?

The government wants us to become less reliant on gas, and to use electricity. The reason why the government prefers electricity is that it can be sourced from renewable generation, so better for the planet and our health. As air source heat pumps are powered by electricity, they are cleaner and better for the environment. The rules on ECO4 and ECO4 flex have, therefore, been set by the Government to support this change. Gas, oil and other fossil fuels burn to produce carbon dioxide which is known to be one of the gasses that is accelerating the warming of our plant and contributing to climate change. More and more electricity is being generated from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, which do not produce harmful gasses.

Air source heat pumps are about three times more efficient than a gas boiler (1 kWh of electric will produce about three times the amount of heat compared to 1 kWh of gas running a gas central heating boiler). Heat pump technology has been around for many years, and, in summary operates in the same way as a refrigerator, albeit in reverse.

Other countries in Europe have been using them for decades, we’re only slowly just catching up!

What is the difference between ECO4 and ECO4 Flex?

As a local authority, we are able to approve applications for ECO4 Flex that meet certain criteria as set out by Ofgem e.g., residents who have ill health, low income, free school meals, pregnant, elderly, and other criteria. It is, however, up to the local installer to ensure that the property meets the requirements as set out by Ofgem to qualify for funding. If the property isn’t suitable, then you will not qualify regardless of your personal circumstances.  

As outlined above, any contractor aligned to an energy company can deliver ECO4, but ECO4 Flex can only be delivered in areas where the local council has approved and published a relevant statement and ensured there is a method of delivery through a contractor aligned to an energy company. The local council must also approve each individual application to enable the contractor to receive the funding from the energy company. Our statement can be found here: Energy Company Obligation Scheme - Greater Manchester Combined Authority (

My property is an EPC D or I don’t need a new boiler – why am I not eligible?

The installers are required to increase the energy performance rating of a property through the ECO4 Flex installs, but if a property already has adequate heating or insulation they may struggle to achieve this and therefore you may not be eligible. For more information on this see: What is the Minimum Uplift Rule and Why Is It Important for ECO4 Grant Applications? (

Why am I not eligible for Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) or Solar Panels?

The current ECO4 guidelines have a “minimum requirement” of moving a property up the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) bands, i.e. F and G to D, D and E to C. Most properties heated by gas condensing boiler boilers under the current version of SAP show very little increase, and in some cases decreases, of the SAP rating when modelling an ASHP replacement, and generally you can’t bridge the gap by fitting more insulation. 

Solar panels through the ECO scheme can only be fitted with ASHP.

Can I receive insulation through the Government’s Great British Insulation Scheme?

There is the recently launched central government scheme ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’ (GBIS). Our approved installers are not ready to deliver on GBIS just yet, GBIS funding from the energy companies is proving a problem, and they are currently in dialogue with energy companies about this.

However, you can learn more about the criteria for GBIS and apply via the GBIS website: Apply for support from the Great British Insulation Scheme - GOV.UK (

Can listed houses or houses in a conservation area be eligible?

Eligibility will depend upon your personal circumstances as well as the suitability of your property. If your home is listed or in a conservation area, permission may need to be sought from the relevant regulatory bodies dependent upon what installs your property is suitable for- the approved installer for your area can advise you accordingly.

What standards are improvement works held to, and who is responsible for ensuring they are met?

ECO4 funding is provided by the energy companies directly to the installer. Therefore, the Council and the GMCA are not involved in checking the work or making payments to the installer. All measures funded by ECO4 must meet PAS2035 and PAS2030 or MCS standards (as appropriate) and be lodged with TrustMark who should be contacted to address any issues the installer fails to resolve.