Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Energy efficiency

You may be able to get some grant funding to make your home more energy efficient. A lack of proper insulation and ventilation can lead to lots of other problems, like serious damp and mould appearing in the property.  You might be entitled to money off the cost of insulating your home or you could get the property insulated for free.  Both the Warm Homes Scheme and the Boiler Replacement Allowance end on the 31 March 2015, so if you're interested in applying for either of these measures, you need to act quickly. 

Grants for insulation and new heating systems

Every year the NI Sustainable Energy Programme publishes a list of grants.  These grants are provided by private energy companies.  The grants can help with the cost of

  • insulation
  • new heating boilers and controls
  • energy efficient lighting

Each grant has its own eligibility criteria and you need to be on a low income to qualify for many of them.   The grants open in April each year.  By December, the money is often all used up so you should apply as soon after April as you can.

Warm Homes Scheme

The Warm Homes Scheme is available to private tenants and homeowners who receive one or more of the following benefits

  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • income related Employment & Support Allowance
  • income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • pension credit
  • child tax credit, if income is less than £15910
  • working tax credit
  • disability living allowance
  • attendance allowance.

The maximum grant you can get through Warm Homes is £1500.  This can be used for loft and cavity wall insulation and on lagging for your hot water cylinder. You can apply for Warm Homes online or by calling 0800 988 0559 .  The Warm Homes Scheme will close on 31 March 2015 and will be replaced by the Affordable Warmth Grant. 

Warm Homes Plus

Warm Homes Plus is for people who have solid fuel, Economy 7 or bottled gas heating systems or have no heating system and receive any of the following benefits

  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • income related Employment & Support Allowance
  • income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • pension credit
  • working tax credit.

Warm Homes Plus will provide the same service as Warm Homes.  On top of this it will install oil or gas heating in properties with no current central heating system or convert the heating system to oil or gas where the system is Economy 7, LPG or solid fuel. Contact Bryson Energy to find out more about Warm Homes and Warm Homes Plus. The Warm Homes Scheme will close on 31 March 2015 and will be replaced by the Affordable Warmth Grant. 

Boiler replacement

Homeowners who have an oil heating boiler which is over 15 years old and inefficient can apply for a Boiler Replacement Allowance.  You can apply if your annual household income is less than £40,000. The maximum allowance is £1,000.

The amount of money that you will get depends on your income.  If your household income is less than £20,000 the basic grant is £700.  This will increase to £1,000 if you have to install controls as well as a boiler.

If you earn between £20,000 and £40,000 the boiler grant will be £400, rising to £500 if controls need to be installed.

You are free to choose your own installer.  Where the engineer is working with gas, s/he must be a registered Gas Safe engineer. If you are installing a new boiler, you must apply to your local council for Building Control approval. The Building Control fee will not be covered by the grant.

The Housing Executive manages applications for this allowance.  To find out if you are eligible for the grant, call 0300 200 7874 or register by emailThe Boiler Replacement Allowance will close on 31 March 2015. 

Grants for renewable energy

You may be entitled to a government grant if you are installing certain types of renewable heating sources.
The government grant is called a Renewable Heat Premium Payment.  The amount of money you’ll get depends on the type of system you are installing.  You can get

  • £1,700 for an Air Source heat pump
  • £2,500 for a Biomass boiler
  • £3,500 for a Ground Source or Water Source heat pump
  • £320 for Solar Thermal Hot Water

There are very specific eligibility criteria that your application must meet. You can read more about these and the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme on the NI Direct website.

Affordable Warmth Grant

Homeowners and private tenants living in areas with high levels of fuel poverty may be eligible to an Affordable Warmth Grant.  Your council should write to you if it thinks you are eligible to apply for this scheme.  If you haven't received a letter from the council, but think that your property should be included in the scheme, contact your local council and ask to speak to the building control department about the Affordable Warmth Grant. 

To qualify for help under this scheme, you need to be earning less than £20,000 a year.  If you rent privately, you'll need your landlord's permission before any work can go ahead and your landlord will have to pay 50% of the cost of the work.  The maximum amount that will be spent on any one property is £7,500.  If your property is selected for solid wall insulation, this can increase to £10,000. 

If you get a letter about this scheme, fill in the enclosed survey and send it back to the council.  The council will send all the responses it receives to the Housing Executive.  The Housing Executive will then visit householders to check that they are eligible for the scheme and to inspect their properties to see what work is necessary. 

If a property needs a lot of work, you'll normally be asked to start by insulating your home.  If this doesn't improve the situation you may be allowed to replace the heating system or repair or replace your windows.  You shouldn't do any work until you've received a formal certificate of approval from the council, explaining what work you are authorised to do.