ECO scheme expansion hits snag – but what is “ECO”?

MMC versus traditional residential building

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme raises funds from a levy on energy bills to pay for energy efficiency improvements for home owners and tenants in receipt of certain benefits. There had been hopes that an expansion of the scheme would be announced in this month’s energy security strategy, that might have included a £200 million contribution from the Treasury.

Such an expansion would have rolled out the scheme to more homes, including thousands of households that are not claiming benefits. Just as the cost of living crisis begins to take effect, working lower income families with insufficient finance available to make their homes more energy efficient, might have received help towards reducing their energy bills.

Rishi Sunak is now understood to have rejected the idea, having set out his spending targets for the next three years in autumn 2021. The Treasury says it is already helping nearly 500,000 households on low incomes, who save on average £300 each year on household bills. No public money currently funds the scheme.

An unnamed government official has been quoted as saying: “It would have been something that we could say to households: “we’re on your side, we want you to reduce your bills”, but the Treasury doesn’t believe in it.”

How can you make your home more ‘ECO’?

With energy bills reaching astronomic heights, it isn’t surprising that home owners are looking for ways to make their homes cheaper to run at the same time as seeking ways of going ‘green’ by reducing carbon emissions. Eco homes, or zero-carbon homes, are properties with high levels of insulation, high performance windows with insulated frames, rainwater harvesting systems, solar panels and air or ground source heat pumps.

One of the biggest barriers to building an environmentally friendly home is the high value of land and the perception that eco-building costs more than traditional construction. However, this perception is changing as more people achieve the dream of living in a home that is both environmentally friendly and money saving.

Can an ECO Surveyor help?

The Passivhaus standard is an international design benchmark under which greener and more energy efficient homes are built. Passivhaus delivers comfort as well as low running costs, with homes designed to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. By using very high levels of insulation, high performance glazing, airtight building fabric, thermal bridge-free construction methods and mechanical ventilation systems with highly efficient heat recovery, Passivhaus homes are a big step towards achieving the carbon reduction targets of the housing industry.

The Passivhaus Trust promotes the construction of buildings that observe the Passivhaus standard: homes that are comfortable to live in all year round, using very low amounts of energy for heating and cooling. Under its principles, outside shutters are used to shield windows from direct sunlight in the summer while still allowing light to enter the house during the winter when the sun is lower in the sky.

Glazing is a major source of heat gain and loss within buildings, while very little heat is transmitted through the walls in comparison.

Passivhaus building standards can make homes 8% more costly to build than traditional houses. However, the standard can be retrofitted into existing properties and makes buildings more efficient and cheaper to run. Many homeowners living in such properties have found that they almost never need to boost their home’s heating once the property is converted.

A qualified ECO surveyor can help you achieve this. Contact us at to speak with one of our independent Chartered Surveyors with Passivhaus consultancy certification. We can help you in the conversion, design or build of a comfortable, low carbon home – better for you and better for the environment.