Continuing our series of guest blogs from partners, Next Energy Solutions, a market-leading and award-winning specialist in improving the energy efficiency of homes, tells us how they are delivering the Energy Company Obligation Flexible Eligibility Scheme (ECO4 Flex) across Bolton, Salford and Wigan…

Let’s start by giving some background to the ECO4 Flex scheme, together with GMCA, Improveasy and 0800 Repair, we are aiming to reduce fuel poverty across the region by improving the least energy efficient, owner-occupied or privately rented houses occupied by low income and vulnerable households. By improving these homes, we are contributing to Greater Manchester’s long-term environmental vision – to be carbon neutral by 2038.

Through ECO4 Flex, (eligible) residents qualify for installs such as insulation, heating systems, solar panels and other measures which help to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of their homes – eligibility is assessed either through an income-based or a health-related route.

Cold homes are linked to an increased risk of developing a wide range of health conditions, especially respiratory (such as asthma or COPD) and cardiovascular (such as heart disease, or circulatory conditions). In 2019 the Local Government Association estimated the NHS spends £2.5 billion per year as a minimum on treating illnesses that are directly linked to cold, damp, and unsafe homes, highlighting the need for schemes like ECO4 Flex.

Benefitting from the scheme’s whole-house approach is Andrew from Aylesbury Crescent, Wigan. Next Energy carried out a retrofit assessment which concluded that the property’s Energy Performance Rating (EPR) was standing at an E46 due to the low-quality heating systems. The aim was to raise the existing EPR by 2 Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) bands by a fabric-first, multi-measure approach. This included the installation of a replacement boiler, new smart controls (Thermostatic Radiator Valves), loft insulation and new ventilation, which included a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) unit, trickle vents to all windows and a kitchen fan – all at zero cost to Andrew. The installation of the measures took place over 9 weeks, from the date of the initial survey to the final installation and was completed by Next Energy’s internal workforce. The new heating system and insulation resulted in an increased EPR of C70, helping to minimise the property’s heat loss and maximise potential savings on gas use.

It is estimated that the new boiler could potentially reduce household gas use by 9.2%, with an estimated saving of 1,800 kWh. In addition to this, Andrew is expected to save £250 on his annual energy bills due to new loft insulation. When asked to describe his experience of the ECO4 Flex scheme, and the installation process with Next Energy, Andrew said “It was great, the whole job from start to finish was great. Sorry but I can’t say anything other than great!”. Clearly pleased with his experience, he went on to say that he believes he can “give back to the community” by sharing his experience with Greater Manchester residents and positively encourage them to apply for the scheme.

You can check if you’re eligible for ECO4 Flex and receive further energy efficiency advice by visiting the GMCA Retrofit Portal.

Alternatively, you can contact the installer for your area directly:

Districts Installer Contact 
Manchester, Stockport, Trafford Improveasy Ltd 
0800 024 8505 
Bolton, Salford, Wigan Next Energy Solutions Ltd 
0800 021 3145 
Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside PHS Home Solutions Ltd T/A
0800 Repairs 
0800 737 247 

Finally, Next Energy are also in the process of funding various training programs to upskill local residents – further information on this in our next guest blog.

For general information on the ECO4 Flex scheme and its official partners, email the GMCA team:

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