First cars, now the Government wants boilers to be exchanged in a scrappage scheme

The Government's boiler scrappage scheme is now under way, offering households £400 to scrap old boilers and upgrade to a more energy-efficient model.

The new boiler incentive comes after the successful car scrappage scheme which was introduced to kick-start the struggling motor industry. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and household energy bills. "Householders are naturally reluctant to replace a working boiler, even though it is wasteful on energy, so an incentive to do this is vital. We are delighted that the Government has given the green light to enable householders to replace an old, inefficient boiler with a new, energy-efficient model," says Roger Webb from the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC).

A £400 cashback voucher is available for households swapping a G-rated boiler for an A-rated boiler, which is 90 per cent more efficient. According to HHIC, the average cost of a boiler and installation is about £2,500 but it is hoped the scheme will make it more affordable.

Upgrading to an A-rated boiler has significant long-term benefits and could cut a household heating bill by about a quarter, saving an average of £235 a year. The scheme is also likely to prove a real boon for the big energy companies such as British Gas, the largest installer of boilers, and Npower, which saw a six-fold increase in the number of appointments booked on the first day of the Government scheme, compared with the previous day.

All of the energy companies are keen to show their support. Npower was ahead of the game last month when it launched its own boiler scrappage scheme, offering £400 off a new boiler when replacing one that's at least 10 years old. British Gas said it will also be matching the Government's £400 allowance, saving customers £800 off the cost of a new boiler.

Despite the extra incentives, price comparison sites are urging consumers considering taking up the scheme to check with a local, independent plumber to see if they can get a better price. Installation costs can vary widely depending on several factors such as location, accessibility and the price of the installer's time, so it's worth getting at least three installation quotes.

"Anyone considering taking advantage of the boiler scrappage scheme should resist being bamboozled by headline offers. Instead, it's vital to shop around and consider the total cost of the replacement boiler and associated installation costs," says Gareth Kloet, the head of utilities at comparison site Confused.com. Anyone interested will need to act quickly, as the scheme has a budget for replacing only 125,000 boilers. The Government won't be issuing any vouchers until 18 January at the earliest, but anyone wanting to upgrade their boiler can arrange for an installer to visit and provide a quote, then contact the Energy Saving Trust with the information via email (boilerscrappage@est.org.uk) or telephone on 0800 512 012.

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