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UK Government ECO4 Scheme Explained

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, initiated by the UK government, has reached its fourth iteration, known as ECO4. This latest phase, which began in April 2022, continues the government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and tackling fuel poverty. The ECO4 scheme is designed to help low-income households access energy-efficient home improvements, ultimately reducing energy bills and environmental impact.

What is the ECO4 Scheme?

The ECO4 scheme is a government initiative aimed at assisting low-income and vulnerable households to improve their energy efficiency. This scheme is funded by larger energy suppliers, who are obligated to help make homes more energy-efficient. The programme includes installing insulation, double glazing, and more efficient heating systems, which can significantly reduce the energy needed to heat and power homes.

How does ECO4 differ from its predecessors?

Each phase of the ECO scheme has been tailored to focus on different aspects of energy efficiency. ECO4 introduces stricter criteria and aims to be more targeted than previous phases. One of the major changes in ECO4 is the focus on “deeper” retrofits, potentially including more comprehensive improvements to eligible homes. Moreover, the scheme prioritises properties with the lowest energy efficiency ratings, specifically E, F, or G.

Since its inception in 2013, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme has evolved through several phases, each designed to address different aspects of household energy efficiency and support for vulnerable populations.

ECO1 (2013-2015)

The first phase of ECO focused broadly on reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency across the UK. It was divided into three main obligations:

  1. Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) – Targeting structural insulation measures in walls and roofs.
  2. Carbon Saving Community Obligation (CSCO) – Aimed at providing insulation and glazing improvements in areas of low income.
  3. Affordable Warmth Obligation – Focused on heating and hot water systems for low-income and vulnerable households.
ECO2 (2015-2017) and ECO2t (2017-2018)

ECO2 continued with similar objectives but with a refined focus on reaching more vulnerable population segments. ECO2t, a transitional phase, began adjusting the focus towards “fuel poverty” more explicitly, setting the stage for future amendments that would continue to refine beneficiary targeting.

ECO3 (2018-2022)

ECO3 made significant changes, including:

  • Increased emphasis on fuel poverty: Over 6.5 million homes identified as fuel poor were targeted for improvements.
  • Introduction of innovative measures: This phase allowed for more flexible solutions, including integrating renewable technologies and replacing inefficient heating.
  • Widened eligibility criteria: Expanded the list of qualifying benefits to encompass a broader range of low-income households.

What measures are covered by the ECO4 scheme?


Insulation is one of the most effective ways to retain heat in a home. It reduces the need for excessive heating and thus lowers energy bills.

Heating Upgrades

Updating or replacing heating systems can vastly improve a home’s energy efficiency and the health of its occupants by providing more consistent and cost-effective heat.

Renewable Energy Technologies

Integrating renewable technologies to reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources is key to making homes sustainable.

Windows and Doors

Upgrading windows and doors can significantly reduce drafts and heat loss, contributing to energy conservation.

  • Double Glazing: Replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazed ones improves heat retention and reduces noise.
  • Energy-Efficient Doors: Replacing old and poorly insulated doors with new, energy-efficient ones that prevent heat from escaping.

How to apply?

Applying for the ECO4 scheme can be done through several channels. The most straightforward approach is to contact your energy supplier to see if they can participate in the scheme and offer assistance. Alternatively, contacting your local council can guide you on applying through the flexible eligibility route, particularly if you are close to the criteria but not directly qualifying.

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