The Energy Company Obligation 4 (ECO4) is a UK Government energy efficiency scheme that will run until March 2026. Under ECO4 obligated energy suppliers are required to reduce heating costs for low income and vulnerable households by funding energy efficiency, insulation and heating measures. The scheme aims to reduce fuel poverty and energy bills in the long-term and reduce carbon emissions. Energy companies work with third party installers to deliver their obligations under ECO4 and it is up to the energy companies to determine which measures they choose to fund, the level of funding they provide and the installer they choose to work with.
What is ECO4 Flex?
‘ECO4 Flexible Eligibility’ (ECO4 Flex) is a household referral mechanism within the wider ECO4 Scheme. Councils can voluntarily participate in ECO4 Flex to identify eligible households that are not in receipt of a means tested benefit (the ECO4 scheme’s standard approach to fulfilling eligibility) but meet the eligibility criteria outlined below; this is in accordance with the Council’s ECO4 Flex Statement of Intent. The Council is not responsible for sourcing ECO4 scheme funding or arranging the installation of any measures.
Further information on ECO4 Flex can be found on Ofgem's Energy Company Obligation (ECO) webpage (Link to an external website).
To benefit from ECO4 Flex, you must own your own home or have the permission of your landlord. It is important to note that ECO4 is a supplier obligation and not a grant scheme, and as such different companies or installers may provide different levels or types of support towards the installation of energy efficiency or heating measures.
To qualify, properties must be an occupied private domestic premises (either owner-occupied homes or private rented sector homes). Both the property and the household must adhere to at least one of the three available routes outlined below (Definitions: EPC = Energy Performance Certificate:
Route 1 – Low Income
EPC bands D-G owner-occupied households and E-G private rented sector households with a total combined gross annual income from all sources less than £31,000 (this is the combined whole household income, including every person 18+ years living at that address, such as lodgers and elderly relatives, etc. and must include all income received by all household occupants, including non-means tested benefits, interest from savings, cost of living payments, etc.).
Route 2 – Proxy Targeting
EPC bands E-G owner-occupied households and private rented sector households that meet at least two of the following proxies (proxies 1 and 3 cannot be used together; proxy 5 is unavailable as Ceredigion County Council does not run a scheme that meets the criteria):
Proxy 1 (cannot be used with Proxy 3): Property is in Welsh provision LSOA 1-3 on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 (property is in LSOA Cardigan Teifi, Cardigan Rhyd-Y-Fuwch or Aberystwyth Penparcau 1: please refer to LSOA maps which can be accessed via the Local Authority ECO4 Flexible Eligibility page.
Proxy 2: A person in the household is entitled to a Council Tax reduction due to low income.
Proxy 3 (cannot be used with Proxy 1): A person in the household is vulnerable to the cold for one of the following reasons (from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website (Link to an external website)):
- people with cardiovascular conditions
- people with respiratory conditions (in particular, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
- people with mental health conditions
- people with disabilities
- older people (65 years and over)
- households with young children (from new‑born to school age)
- pregnant women
Proxy 4: A child in the household is eligible for free school meals, due to low income.
Proxy 5: Not available in Ceredigion
Proxy 6: A person in the household has been referred to the local authority for support by their energy supplier or Citizens Advice because they are struggling to pay their electricity and or gas bills.
Route 3 – NHS Referrals
EPC bands D-G owner-occupied households and E-G private rented sector households identified and referred by a GP, a Health Board or an NHS trust, as housing a person suffering from severe or long-term ill-health due to one of the conditions below, and their health is adversely affected by living in a cold home.
- a cardiovascular condition
- a respiratory disease
- limited mobility
A letter from the GP, Health Board or NHS Trust confirming the health condition must be supplied with a completed application form. Alternatively, the NHS referral letter template found under the Downloads section can be completed by the relevant person.
What energy efficiency measures can potentially be funded under ECO4?
The energy efficiency measures that are permitted to be installed in a qualifying household will be determined by the ECO provider/agent/installer. Examples of the measures that can be installed under ECO4 Flex include solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, room in roof insulation, loft insulation, flat roof insulation, electric storage heater upgrade, first time central heating to air source heat pump, boiler upgrade from oil, LPG and solid fuel to air source heat pump, and solar photovoltaic panels. ECO4 Flex takes a whole house retrofit approach and encourages a multi-measure approach, due to the Minimum Requirements (MR) on the amount of energy effciency improvement made on a property. Properties with starting EPC bands F and G must be improved to an EPC D while properties with starting EPC bands E and D must be improved to an EPC C. Where funding is available, eligible households are therefore likely to receive multiple measures where it is both possible and cost-effective to do so.
Is funding always available and are measures fully funded?
Eligibility for ECO4 does not guarantee that funding is available. Availability of funding and the amount of funding available is determined by the ECO providers/agents and their funders. Decisions by energy suppliers and ECO providers/agents on whether to install a measure may depend on a) the survey carried out by suppliers, or their agents/contractors and installation costs calculated; b) the energy savings that can be achieved for a property; c) whether suppliers have achieved, or are close to achieving, their targets; and d) other commercial consideration.
Whilst some measures being funded by ECO will be free to the householder, others may be partially funded and will require a contribution from the householder in order to be delivered. Any financial or contractual arrangement relating to the installation of a specific measure, home survey or service shall be at the discretion of the homeowner or occupier to accept or decline as they choose. The Council will not be party to any such arrangements; this shall solely be between the householder and any third party of their choice on the Council’s list of approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents.
What if there is no current EPC rating for your property?
If there is currently no valid EPC for your property, then the approved ECO4 Flex installer/provider you apply through will arrange for your property to be assessed by an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA). The DEA carries out the energy assessment and issues an energy efficiency rating. You can check whether there is a valid EPC on your property by visiting the UK Government's Find an energy certificate page (Link to an external website).
How to apply
Households wishing to apply for ECO4 Flex funding should contact one of Ceredigion County Council’s approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents (please see below) who will facilitate the application process. The Council does not accept applications directly from households. Please note that the Council does not endorse any specific energy supplier, grant agent, installer or company connected to the application or installation of ECO4 scheme grants or products.
The list of Council approved providers/agents that can deliver energy efficiency measures under ECO4 Flex is available in our Approved ECO4 Flex Installer/Provider List document. From the list you can select the provider that you wish to apply through. Alternatively, you can phone the Housing Service on 01545 572105 to request a paper copy.
The approved provider/agent is required to collect and submit evidence of your income and other relevant details (including personal) to Ceredigion County Council so that an assessment can be made about your eligibility for ECO4 Flex. You are under no obligation to provide this information but by doing so you are giving your consent to share the information with Ceredigion County Council. Please refer to the Council’s ECO4 Flex Privacy Notice document which explains how personal data is used and stored by the Council in relation to ECO4 Flex.
Approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents
Ceredigion County Council does not endorse the quality of workmanship of ECO4 providers/agents/installers/contractors who should be Trustmark registered (Trustmark General Enquiries: 0333 555 1234). However, the Council’s Energy Efficiency Officer manages a framework of approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents, allowing them to make direct referrals to the Council for eligibility checks and the issuing of declarations (where qualifying). The Council does not accept referrals from lead generators or third parties.
The Council approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents will obtain funding from the energy suppliers obligated by ECO to deliver measures under this scheme. When dealing with individuals from these organisations (including surveyors, lead generators, installers, etc. working on behalf of an approved provider/agent), they must a) carry and show photo identification; b) clearly explain who they are, who they work for and the purpose of their visit; c) provide you with contact details for their company so that you can contact them if you need to; d) explain that the scheme is funded by the energy suppliers and that they are not working for or on behalf of the Council; and e) provide you with their Privacy Notice explaining how they will use, store and share your data. They should also provide you with a schedule of works (if works is to go ahead), operational instructions, details on service requirements relevant to the measures installed and documentation outlining installer and manufacturer warranty.
Please note that the approved ECO4 Flex providers/agents are not permitted to use the Council logo to market the ECO4 scheme.
Liabilities, disputes and complaints
Under ECO4 Flex, Local Authorities are not liable for any claims a customer makes should they be dissatisfied with the standard of work; liability is held with the installer for any work that is carried out. Ceredigion County Council therefore accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from any negative consequence, damage or loss arising from works connected to ECO4 Flex and the installer/provider/agent. This includes efforts connected with the preparation of the application or survey prior to installation of works.
In the event of a dispute arising, the Council will not partake in any resolution. The Council’s involvement in ECO4 Flex is limited to the declaration of household eligibility for funding only. Any grievance or issue raised against works, or the application process related to ECO4 Flex, should be taken up with the installer/provider/obligated energy supplier. Should you need to be satisfied as to the quality of the installation then you must rely upon your own independent specialist.
Should any works go ahead under the scheme, then the contract of agreement is between the householder and the installer/provider/agent in question (not with the Council). Responsibility for the installations lies with the installer (for installation faults within a specified time) and the manufacturer (for faulty products within the warranty period). Maintaining service schedules for installed measures is the responsibility of the householder/owner and not the installer/ECO provider/agent. If you have any questions regarding the installation or workmanship, then please contact the ECO4 Flex provider/installer in question.
To provide assurance to customers, the installations of most energy efficiency measures under ECO4 Flex must be carried out by TrustMark-registered businesses, who are required to adhere to the independent Publicly Available Specification (PAS) standards. Installers are also bound by procedures through their certification body. If an installer does not carry out work properly in the first place, or fail to make right where they don’t, there are existing procedures that are followed to protect the consumer. Customers can contact TrustMark, who can investigate whether a firm is adhering to the Trustmark Customer Charter and advise on potential next steps. Furthermore, TrustMark also have a dispute resolution process should a customer wish to lodge a complaint against a registered installer. Further information can be found by visiting the Trustmark website (Link to an external website). You can also contact Trustmark on the telephone number 0333 555 1234, or in writing to Trustmark (2005) Limited, Arena Business Centre, The Square, Basing View, Basingstoke, RG21 4EB.
Ofgem also has a webpage outlining steps that may help you resolve complaints about an energy efficiency measure installed under ECO4 Flex in your home. Please visit the Ofgem ECO4 Complaints process page (Link to an external website) to read more about the process.
If you are concerned about the conduct of the surveyor or your rights as a consumer, then please telephone the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline: 0808 223 1133 for an English-speaking advisor or 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh-speaking advisor.
For a household to apply for potential funding under ECO4 Flex, personal data will need to be collected by the approved ECO4 Flex provider/agent and by the Council. The Council will require the following household/applicant information from the ECO provider/agent: client name, date of birth, address, supporting evidence and referral route (this may include financial information and special category data such as information on certain health conditions). Examples of the information required can be found in the ECO4 Flex application form which will be available from the provider that you apply through.
Information regarding the number of declarations issued by the Council shall be recorded using a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN). Once a declaration has been issued to the approved provider the Council will send the declaration information (address and referral route) to Ofgem, the ECO4 administrator. Applications and declarations may be subject to Ofgem audits during the time that ECO4 is in effect and up to three years after the schemes end. During these audits Ofgem may require the Council to share the application forms and the supporting evidence with them.
The Council will handle all personal data processed for ECO4 Flex in accordance with the requirements of all applicable data protection and privacy legislation in force from time to time in the UK including the UK GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018 (and regulations made thereunder) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426) as amended. Please refer to the Council’s ECO4 Flexible Eligibility Privacy Notice which explains how personal data is used and stored by the Council in relation to ECO4 and GBIS Flex. The Council’s general Privacy Notice can be viewed on our Privacy Notice webpage.