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Written answers

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Fuel Poverty

Photo of Tony McLoughlinTony McLoughlin (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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162. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to the roll out of the deep retrofit scheme which was discussed at the fuel poverty and climate action conference in March 2017, when this will be made available to the public; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43044/17]

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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At the Energy Action conference on fuel poverty earlier this year I announced that deep retrofits would, for the first time, be made available under the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme. The Warmer Homes scheme provides energy efficiency upgrades completely free of charge to people who meet the eligibility criteria. Up until my announcement, the scheme focused on relatively shallow interventions such as attic and cavity wall insulation, low energy lightbulbs, lagging jackets and energy advice.  

Following my announcement in March, every person who applies to the Warmer Homes scheme has their home surveyed by a professional contractor working on behalf of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). When those surveyors find an applicant who is living in a home that is in a particularly poor condition they will recommend the person for a deeper set of measures. When assessing a home for deeper measures the surveyors will look at factors such as the primary heating method, the construction method and the age of the home. For example, homes will be assigned deeper measures where there is no central heating, or only an open fire or a G rated boiler. If the boiler is G rated, the home must also have been constructed with solid wall or hollow block and been built pre-1978.

I would like to make these deeper renovations available on a wider basis but deep energy efficiency interventions can cost many times that of shallower interventions so I must attempt to find a balance between the depth of the renovations that the scheme can offer and the number of people the scheme can help each year. By the end of this year, SEAI expect to have completed up to 500 of these deeper renovations.

I also spoke about the Warmth & Wellbeing scheme. The Warmth and Wellbeing scheme is a pilot initiative being delivered under the Government’s Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty and the Healthy Ireland Framework. The main aim of the scheme , which began in 2016, is to demonstrate the positive effects that making homes warmer and more energy efficient can have on the health and wellbeing of people in energy poverty who are living with a chronic respiratory condition. An independent research project will assess the impact the scheme is having. At the conclusion of the scheme and with independent evidence on its effectiveness, the potential for a wider rollout will be considered.

In total, 276 homes have been upgraded so far under the scheme and surveys and works are underway on another 262 homes. Recruitment of participants will continue over the winter months and those people will have their upgrades carried out as early as possible in 2018, as this type of work cannot always take place during the winter.

I will have allocated at least €20m in funding to this programme by the end of 2018 to provide for the upgrade of at least 1,500 homes. This is the minimum size needed to develop the evidence base on the impact on the health outcomes of participants of making their homes more energy efficient and warmer, and make the business case for a wider rollout of the scheme.

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