Tuesday, 17 May 2022
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers free energy upgrades for eligible homeowners in low-income households who are most at risk of energy poverty. It is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Since the start of the scheme in 2000, over 145,000 free upgrades have been supported by the scheme. In 2021, the average cost of the energy efficiency measures provided per household had increased significantly to €17,620.
Activity under the scheme, and the associated expenditure, were significantly impacted in both 2020 and 2021 by the COVID pandemic, when construction activity was paused for approximately 12 months in total. Furthermore, access to properties during restricted periods, in line with Government guidelines, was often challenging. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in Quarter 1 2022, the average cycle time from application to completion was approximately 27 months. While this delay was largely driven by COVID related issues, the deeper measures being provided under the scheme since 2018, also involve more substantive works.
SEAI data indicates that for the homes completed in Q1 2022, the average time waiting for a survey was 13 months.
It is important to note that the SEAI received 2,388 applications for the scheme this year, to the end of April, compared with 2,874 for the whole of 2022. The increased publicity around the launch of the new SEAI scheme and revisions to the Warmer Homes Scheme, together with increased energy costs are driving demand for this very important, targeted scheme.
Delivering free energy upgrades to low income households and reducing the waiting times on the Warmer Homes scheme waiting list is a top priority for my Department and SEAI. In order to reduce this timeline to completion and target a monthly average of 400 completions this year, the following actions have already been taken:·
-The budget, at €109 million, is nearly three times the 2021 outturn (€38 million) and funding has also been sought through the European Regional Development Fund;·
-SEAI has been allocated additional staff for the Warmer Homes Scheme;·
-SEAI is working to Increase contractor output through active contract engagement and management.
Any necessary further measures identified as required by SEAI to increase output under this key Scheme will also be taken and progress is kept under ongoing review. I understand the number of completions under the scheme in April 2022 rose to 376 which represents real progress.