Reader question: We have been contacted by a firm called A.F.E which has said that it can replace our gas-boiler with an air-source heat pump and insulate the loft area for €1. It claims it is part of a government scheme. Is this a legitimate offer or a scam? It sounds too good to be true.
The government previously partnered with firms that had signed a charter with the Ecology Ministry to offer home insulation that was advertised as being for €1. However this specific scheme stopped in 2021 following aggressive telemarketing and poorly executed work.
However there is still help towards replacing your boiler with a more environmentally-friendly alternative and with insulating your home.
The government offers various ways of helping with this: the coup de pouce chauffage (heating grant), the Eco-prêt à taux zéro (interest-free eco loan) and the MaPrimeRénov’ eco-friendly renovation grant scheme (the latter two can also help with insulation).
In terms of your particular example, we would always treat with caution any unsolicited emails or calls, and recommend you follow official routes towards obtaining help.
While A.F.E (Artisan Français Energie) is a real business, if you want to discuss what it could do for you we would suggest initiating the contact directly, with information from the France Rénov’ site, which you can find by putting in its name here.
The coup de pouce chauffage, similarly to the €1 insulation, works using the certificats d’énergie scheme. This relates to the obligation of large energy firms to encourage the public to undertake energy-saving renovations.
You usually access this aid by firstly obtaining agreement from one of the firms involved, and secondly by agreeing with tradespeople who have the RGE eco-friendly renovations label, to do the work.
You can search the list of businesses yourself on this page under Quelle est la démarche.
You can also seek advice about this and other renovation aids from the France Rénov’ network of advisers, which has local branches and a helpline on 0808 800 700.
We cannot say whether it would be possible for you to obtain a boiler and insurance for €1, as it depends on the cost of the equipment, exactly what aids you obtain, the income of your household (only more ‘modest’ households get the maximum amounts of coup de pouce chauffage and MaPrimeRénov’) etc.
The Agence Nationale de l’Habitat, an official national agency assisting with home improvement and which plays a role in these financial aids, has been trying to combat fraud with awareness campaigns.
It has some tips to help avoid being scammed. Firstly, it stresses the need for vigilance and caution at each step of the process:
- Be careful at the beginning, especially with quotes that seem too good to be true and with aggressive commercial practices
- Be wary during the process of applying for government aid as scammers may steal your identity
- Finally, once the construction is complete, check that the finished product complies with government rules to avoid problems further down the line.
The official channels for discussing financial aid for your boiler are the France Rénov’ network, the France Services branches or the Centre Communal d’Action Sociale (CCAS) of your commune.
While businesses may also inform you of the financial aid given by the government you can double check by going through one of the previous channels.
Gas boilers were expected to be banned by 2026 but it is now unclear whether that will actually be enforced.
Critics of the plan to ban gas boilers have pointed out that heat pumps, the main alternative to a gas boiler for heating, may be impossible to install in some homes because of space and noise considerations.
They also argue that whilst the gas boiler-maker industry is principally located in Europe, heat pumps are produced in Asia and the cost for consumers will be far greater.
Calls for a gas-electricity balance are gaining traction.