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10 Tips to save money and stay warm this winter
Free gas central heating (Warmer Homes)
How can it be ‘free’?

Our Warmer Homes scheme is funded entirely from external sources of money. Over £4 million has been secured from Affordable Warm Solutions (a Community Interest Company which is partnered with the National Grid), and around £3million comes from ECO and FPNES (Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme) sources. This means we have enough funding to install around 1,500 first time gas central heating systems in the Portsmouth area!

Who will be in contact with me?

Once a referral has been made, you will hear from the Warmer Homes team, who work under our scheme managers Agility Eco. They will arrange a free energy advice visit for you first, and then refer you on to an approved installer who will conduct a survey.

 

How long should the process take?

If you already have gas in your property, this process shouldn’t take too long, and can be flexible to your requirements. It will depend on the booking of appointments and the availability of yourself and the installer.

If you do not currently have gas in your property, you might face some short delays as you will have to be connected to the mains gas before the central heating system can be installed.

 

Will there be much disruption?

The installation should take 1-2 days to complete, depending on the size of your property. You will not need to vacate the property during this time, and everything will be cleaned before the installers leave. Your old system will be removed and recycled for you.

 

Can I decide where the radiators and boiler will go?

During the survey stage, you are more than welcome to advise the installers of where you would like the radiators and the boiler to go. The only limitations to this will be feasibility of the installation, which your installer will explain to you.

 

Can I apply for this if I am in rented accommodation?

You can apply to this scheme if you are in private rented accommodation, but you will need to get consent from your landlord. The scheme will supply you with the forms you need to get your landlord to sign before the installation can go ahead.

If you are in social housing or in a housing association property, you can apply. Due to funding there are tighter constraints for this tenure type, but the scheme will look into the possibility for you.

 

Can I apply for this if I don’t have any gas in my property?

This scheme has funding to include the gas connections to your property, and a gas meter, if required – so you can apply!

 

How do I apply for cavity wall or loft insulation through this scheme?

If you’d like to get loft or cavity wall insulation installed in your home, tell the energy advisor during your first visit. They will make the referral for you, and you will hear from a suitable installer if this can go ahead.

 

Who do I contact if I have any questions or complaints?

You can contact the Warmer Homes scheme directly on 0800 038 5737, or you can come through to Portsmouth City Council’s Energy Services Team via 023 9284 1947.

Free home energy visit (LEAP)
How can it be ‘free’?

LEAP is funded entirely from external sources of money. This includes ECO (Energy Company Obligation) and WHDII (Warm Homes Discount Industry Initiatives). This money is in place to provide energy saving advice and measures for residents, so you can benefit from the scheme for free!

 

Who will be in contact with me?

After you have submitted your self-referral, you will hear from the LEAP team, who work for our scheme managers Agility Eco.

 

Do I need to prepare anything before the visit?

Only if you have specific questions. If you would like assistance with your energy bill payments, or think you are being overcharged, please have copies of your latest bills for the advisor to look at during the visit.

 

How long will the visit take?

This depends on how much assistance you would like to receive! On average a visit lasts about an hour, but you have up to 2 hours with the advisor.

 

How do I apply for cavity wall or loft insulation through this scheme?

If you’d like to get loft or cavity wall insulation installed in your home, tell the LEAP advisor during your visit. They will make the referral for you, and you will hear from a suitable installer if this can go ahead.

 

Does Cavity Wall Insulation cause damp or mould?

If it is installed correctly, there should not be any issues with damp. Only Trustmark registered and PAS certified installers can access the funding, and all installations will come with a 25 year guarantee.

 

Who do I contact if I have any questions or complaints?

You can contact the LEAP scheme directly on 0800 060 7567, or you can come through to Portsmouth City Council’s Energy Services Team on 023 9284 1947.

Free boiler repair/replacement (ECHOS)
How is the ECHO scheme affected by the Covid-19 outbreak?

All ECHO staff and installers will adhere to relevant government and Public Health England advice relating to ECHO service provision.

You should be consulted ahead of any surveys and installations to verify that you are happy for the visit to proceed and that no-one in your household is experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

Where possible we will minimise all social interaction with residents, especially for those in at-risk group.

How can it be ‘free’?

ECHOs is entirely funded by Warm Homes Discount Industry Initiatives, which is an external source of money. Thanks to this funding, you can get a boiler repair or replacement totally for free!

 

Can I apply for this if I am in rented accommodation?

This scheme is open to owner/occupiers only. If you are in rented accommodation, you should contact your landlord and they should repair or replace your boiler.

 

Who will be in contact with me?

After you register your interest, you will be contacted by one of the team at Portsmouth City Council. We will put the referral through for you, and you will then hear from the ECHOs team themselves, who will get a survey booked in for you as soon as possible.

 

How long will it take?

As this is an emergency scheme, the installation should be complete within 10 working days after your survey takes place.

 

What counts as an ’emergency heating situation’?

You will be considered to be in an emergency heating situation if, during the winter months, your boiler has broken or been condemned, and your heating is not working.

 

Can I apply to this scheme if my boiler is old or inefficient?

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the funding, you cannot apply to this scheme if your boiler is not fully broken or has not been marked as condemned by a gas engineer.

 

Who do I contact if I have any questions or complaints?

Once you have had contact with the installer who will be carrying out the repair or replacement, you should contact them with any questions or concerns. For more general queries, feel free to contact the Portsmouth City Council Energy Services Team on 023 9284 1947.

Funding
Where does all the money come from?

Portsmouth City Council works with our partner organisation Agility Eco to secure external funding for all of our schemes. Sources of funding include the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS), The National Grid, Warm Homes Fund (WHF), the Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme (FPNES) and Warm Homes Discount Industry Initiatives (WHDII).

Our first time gas central heating scheme is funded by a mixture of these sources – PCC secured over £4million from AWS, with match funding from ECO and FPNES to amount to over £7million worth of funding to support the scheme.

 

What is Energy Company Obligation (ECO)?

The Energy Company Obligation is a government energy efficiency scheme which is designed to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. Obligated Energy Suppliers are required by law to provide financial support for installations of measures that assist vulnerable customers with improving the energy efficiency of their home.

 

What is the Warm Homes Fund?

The Warm Homes Fund was set up by the National Grid to provide financial assistance to vulnerable households. It operates nationally across England, Scotland and Wales.

 

What is Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS)?

AWS is a Community Interest Company which was established to deliver national grid gas distribution fuel poor obligations.

 

What is the Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme (FPNES)?

This scheme was put in place by Ofgem, and works by obligating gas distribution network companies to deliver a set number of connections to the gas mans for eligible households.

 

What is Warm Homes Discount Industry Initiatives?

Energy suppliers are obligated to deliver financial support to vulnerable households – under this scheme they can work in partnership with third parties to deliver some of this support.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
What is ECO?

The Energy Company Obligation is a government energy efficiency scheme which is designed to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. Obligated Energy Suppliers are required by law to provide financial support for installations of measures which assist vulnerable customers with improving the energy efficiency of their home.

 

Will I have to pay to have an energy efficiency measure installed?

It is up to the energy suppliers which measures they fund, and what installers they will work with. The level of funding you will receive will depend on the measure type, and some eligibility factors. It is possible to get a fully funded ECO measure installed, but for some measures you might have to make a small contribution.

 

Can I get ECO measures installed in my privately rented home?

You may be able to have ECO measures installed if you are a private tenant and meet the relevant eligibility criteria – to do so, you must get consent from your landlord.

You can search if you are eligible here.

 

As a Landlord, can I get ECO measures installed in my properties?

Eligibility is dependent on the occupier of the property, rather than the landlord.

Click here for further information on which measures you could receive funding for.

 

What documents should I receive from my ECO installer?

You should keep any documents you receive in a safe place in case you need to refer to them later.

 

You should receive:

Documents setting out the arrangements, such as a contract

ECO3 Privacy Notice – this should be provided before works take place.

Declaration of Conformity and Completed Installation – after works are completed, you should be asked to sign a declaration. Only sign this once the works are complete and you are satisfied. ECO Appropriate Guarantees – For wall insulation measures you should be provided with a guarantee for 25 years.  You may also be provided with a manufacturers or installers guarantee.

 

Warranties – Boilers or storage heaters must come with a warranty supplied by the installer at the time of installation.

Switched On Solar
How to use the Solar Tool

The Solar Tool is fully automatic. If your property is within the PO postcode boundary, you can just search it by entering your postcode and address. Simply enter the postcode in the “Search Postcode” box, and click “Find Address”. Then a dropdown list of all properties within the postcode will appear. Choose the property that you are interested in, and click “Evaluate” to see the result.

Why can’t I find my address?

The model uses the Portsmouth address database which is updated periodically. If your property is not within the City of Portsmouth (most of the PO1 to PO6 postcodes), it is unfortunately not covered by the study area of this model. If your property is within Portsmouth, it is possible that they are not included in the database. In this case, you can contact Switched On Portsmouth by emailing hello@switchedonportsmouth.co.uk, and we will arrange an individual study of the building for you.

How does the Solar Tool understand my roof and it’s shape?

The tool, developed by Switched On Portsmouth’s partner Absolar, uses LiDAR data and computer simulation to identify the shape and structure of buildings within Portsmouth. The LiDAR data are able to create a high-resolution 3D model of buildings on a virtual platform, performing simulations for solar radiation and electricity production.

Why does the tool only choose parts of the roof?

If the roof is composed of different sections, the tool is able to analyse the structure and geometry of each section; including orientation, inclination, and curvature. Thereby identifying the most suitable areas where solar panels can be installed. The selected areas are chosen as they meet the following criteria:

  • The area able to receive an adequate amount of solar radiation over a year
  • They have large enough surface spaces
  • The surface areas are suitable for panel installation
Can I install more panels or panels on other areas not highlighted?

The tool proposes a suitable configuration of solar energy systems for your roof. It is possible that your roof can be fitted with more solar panels and still be financially feasible. You can discuss this with the installer when they perform pre-installation, on-site surveys. If you feel that your property can install significantly more panels than proposed, you can also contact our energy advisers at Switched On Portsmouth via hello@switchedonportsmouth.co.uk.

How is the payback period calculated?

We calculate the payback period by taking into account 1) capital cost for installing solar panels, 2) potential electricity production from the proposed solar system, 3) estimated electricity demand of the property, 4) estimated electricity surplus, if any, from the solar panels and the resulted payment from energy suppliers, and 5) estimated electricity price increment.

The tool updates its economic parameters periodically to reflect the latest market values. The current parameters used by the app are as follows:

  • Electricity purchase tariff: 15 p/kWh
  • Smart export guarantee tariff: 4.0 p/kWh
  • Typical solar panel installation:
    • 1 kW: £2050
    • 2 kW: £3250
    • 3 kW: £4350
    • 4 kW: £5200
    • 5 kW: £5800
  • Annual electricity price increment: 3%
How do I get more benefit from my solar PV panels?

Demand side management

Electricity production from solar panels is highly dependent on time of the day. You can increase the financial benefit by shifting the use of high-power appliances to during the day time when your solar panels are producing electricity.

Battery and energy storage

If you have a large amount of electricity surplus from your solar panels, you can also install an energy storage system, such as batteries, to help reduce surplus. Contact our adviser at Switched On Portsmouth to know more.

Export tariff

After April 2019, the UK government has changed the export tariff scheme to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), requiring energy suppliers to set up their own SEG tariff for solar panel owners who export electricity surplus to the grid. Currently, several energy companies have announced their own SEG tariffs, which vary significantly. You may receive a higher SEG payment by changing energy suppliers. Contact our adviser at Switched On Portsmouth to know more.

Can I get financial help to install solar panels?

Visit our solar loans and funding page to see what financial help is available at the moment. We have partnered with the Wessex Community Bank to offer ethical, low-cost loans to help you purchase Solar PV. We also sometimes have funding available to install Solar PV for FREE!

What is Solar PV?

If you haven’t already, and are looking for some general information on Solar PV – see our Brief Guide to Solar PV.

What is solar PV?

Solar photovoltaics (PV) are materials that convert light directly into electricity, using no moving parts.  It is made out of semiconducting materials, most usually silicon.

What are solar PV panels made of?

The heart of the panel is made of wafers of semiconducting material, usually silicon – 95% of the market for PV is silicon panels. Other compounds such as gallium arsenide and copper indium diselenide are available. Plastic PV is just coming to the market although conversion efficiencies are still low. In future, materials called perovskites look to be a promising low-cost solar conversion technology.

Apart from the solar material itself, modules also contain a glass front surface, an aluminium frame and polymer resins to seal the panel and prevent water getting inside.

Are solar PV panels safe?

If installed correctly in accordance with IET regulations the PV is perfectly safe.  The same could be said of any electrical circuit.

How much energy does it take to make a solar PV panel?

An entire solar PV system including panels and inverters, will repay the energy needed to manufacture it within 3 years operating in the UK.

Do solar PV panels affect the value of my house?

The value of your property is very much down to the opinion of the prospective buyer. However, solar PV will increase the energy performance rating of the property (EPC rating), and we are seeing a correlation between energy performance and house price for properties in the same location – that is to say an efficient home is seen as more desirable.

If you move out of a property that has had solar PV installed at the very least the new owner/occupier will benefit from reduced energy bills which should be seen as a plus. However the quality of the installation is also important. To give yourself the best chance of increasing the value of your property with solar it is important that you look for a reliable installer who will be available in the future to respond to any questions or issues.

Do PV panels generate electricity when it is cloudy?

Yes – PV panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, although they are most effective in direct sunlight. The panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds, albeit not as productively as a clear, sunny day.

Can electricity generated from PV panels be stored to use later?

In order to store electricity generated by the PV panels you would require a separate battery storage system, otherwise the electricity can be exported back to the grid at an export rate. Alternatively, you can couple the PV panels with the immersion heater on your water to produce hot water as a means of storing the energy generated.

Do I need planning permission to install PV panels?

In most cases solar panels do not need planning permission, however you should check local planning policies with your local council, or speak to your specialist installer. Especially if your home is in a conservation area or is a listed building. General planning advice on solar panels is found here.

What maintenance is required?

Solar PV systems are largely maintenance free. Rain should keep your panels quite clean, but dust, grime or bird droppings can impact the productivity so it is worth having them cleaned occasionally, or if you notice a fall in the production of the system. Panels are made with a special coating making them self-cleaning, if installed at a pitch above 10 degrees. If you do need to clean your panels, pick a company that is equipped to do the job safely and to a good standard.

Do I need a south-facing roof for solar panels?

Solar PV panels work on any roof facing south, south-east or south-west. Although your PV panels will perform better and produce more electricity if they are south facing, they will still perform at 86% (compared to south facing) either facing east or west.

What guarantees will my solar PV panels come with?

Your Solar Panels will come with a manufacturer’s guarantee of the panels’ performance. Different manufacturers offer different guarantees, with the more premium levels of protection usually associated with the more expensive panels. It’s wise to make sure you understand the guarantee before you purchase.

How long will my solar PV panels last for?

Solar PV systems have no moving parts apart from the inverter and as such have very long life spans. The inverter should last for over 10 years and may cost up to £1,000 to replace, however you can buy an extended 20 year warranty for as little as £300. You should expect the panels to last for at least 25 years.

Is there a risk of my solar PV panels blowing off the roof during a storm?

It’s highly unlikely, when solar PV panels are installed they are securely attached to the fabric of the building using a roof hook and rail system. Panels should always be mounted at least 30cm in from the edge of the roof to prevent excessive wind loading.

How do solar PV panels connect to the electrical supply in my home?

The electricity produced by your solar panels is converted from DC (direct current) by the inverter to AC (alternating current), which your home is run on. The electricity is then taken from the inverter via an AC cable to your distribution board, where it is used to power the circuits in your home.

If I have solar PV panels can I come off grid?

Solar PV panels alone will not give you electricity 24 hours a day as they only produce electricity in daylight hours. You would need alternative energy sources or a battery system as well as Solar PV panels to be able to come off grid.