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Are you disabled and missing out on energy grants?

EDF Energy is now fitting free cavity wall and loft insulation to homes of customers on qualifying benefits as well as for people over 70. Affordable Energy currently has an offer running until the end of the 2008 for loft insulation, this includes two water tanks and 15 metres of pipework and costs from 189 this is free to many disabled people of qualifying benefits. The typical standard cost of 400 for flats and houses built before 1976 and 500 and detached and semi-detached houses and bungalows built after 1976. Most companies are offering discounts on energy saving products and some are giving out free energy efficient light bulbs.

'The grants and discounts are all out there, you just need to find them, amounts vary depending on where you live, but there is reported to be something available for everyone,' says a spokesman for the Energy Saving Trust, a non-profit organisation that provides free impartial advice.

The Observer revealed how the government wants energy companies to redirect part of the 3bn they spend under the Cert programme towards fuel-poor households. On top of Cert, another initiative, called Warm Front, is directed specifically at vulnerable households, the disabled and those on benefits. This is a government-funded scheme managed by Eaga, a Newcastle-based green support services company. The Warm Front grant provides a package of insulation and heating improvements up to the value of 2,700 for those on benefits. Eaga estimates that there are around 7 million people eligible for the scheme but that so far only 1.7 million households have taken it up.

Anyone over the age of 60 in receipt of income support, council tax benefit, housing benefit, jobseekers allowance an income based or pension credit qualifies. As do householders with a child under 16, or pregnant women with maternity certificate MAT-B1 in receipt of one or more of the same benefits. Some other households on these benefits, or who receive disability living allowance and a small range of other allowances, may also qualify.

An energy assessor will visit eligible households and make recommendation and measures that could be carried out by the householders and discuss what is available under the Warm Front scheme. Improvements paid for by the scheme include loft insulation, draught-proofing, cavity-wall insulation, hot water tank insulation and gas, electric or oil central heating.

Edward Hardy from Lowestoft in Suffolk is one of the 1.7 million to have benefited from the Warm Front scheme. He is severely disabled from a car crash and in receipt of disability living allowance. He says he had no idea about the scheme until his support worker mentioned it. 'I was suspicious at first and thought it was a loan I had to pay back,' he says. 'I was so pleased when I found I was entitled to 2,700.' He had central heating installed throughout his house, an improvement which he says has made a huge difference to his life. 'I had two small gas fires before, one in the bedroom and one in the front room. The one in the bedroom was barely heating the room up, so I used to stay downstairs and run in and out of the kitchen and bathroom because they were so cold.'

Other initiatives that can save householders money on home improvements include the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which offers grants of up to 2,500 for installation of renewable technologies and is open to householders across the UK. There is also the Scottish Community and Householders Renewable Initiative, which provides grants of up to 4,000 for installation of renewable technologies. It is only available to householders based in Scotland.

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