News

February 2016

Dublin, 02 February 2016 

New energy poverty strategy to target people with acute health conditions and those in rented accommodation

€20m for pilot targeting people with acute health conditions

  • Public consultation on minimum energy efficiency standards for rental accommodation
  • Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) study of consumer switching

Minister for Energy Alex White published A Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty, which outlines new measures to improve the living standards and conditions of citizens experiencing energy poverty.

The new strategy includes a €20 million pilot project to improve energy efficiency in the homes of people with acute health conditions. It also envisages the future introduction of minimum thermal efficiency standards in rented accommodation. And it will see the energy regulator establish and address the factors that prevent people in energy poverty from switching suppliers to achieve lower bills.

After gaining Government approval for the programme, Minister White said: “I am proud to be a member of the first Irish Government to establish and implement a strategy on energy poverty. Despite inheriting some of the most challenging economic circumstances of any administration, we published the first ever national strategy in 2011.

“Since then, more than €2 billion has been spent to support the incomes of people in energy poverty. We have improved the energy efficiency of 140,000 homes in energy poverty through targeted interventions, and we have placed new legal obligations on energy suppliers to ensure that they assist customers in energy poverty.”

The centrepiece of the strategy is a new €20 million pilot scheme to provide free, deep energy efficiency interventions in the homes of people in energy poverty, who suffer acute health conditions and live in poorly insulated homes. The scheme will commence in March 2016 and will be expanded next year to target low-income households with young children – particularly one-parent families who experience the highest levels of deprivation.

Minister White said: “Living in a cold or damp home increases the risk of circulatory and respiratory conditions, particularly among the elderly. By upgrading the energy efficiency of their homes, we will improve residents’ health and comfort, reduce their energy bills, and relieve pressure on our health services.”

The strategy also heralds a public consultation on proposals to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards for rental accommodation. This would mean that, in time, properties could not be let unless they had a BER certificate above a certain standard. This would not be introduced before 2020, to give time for the property market to stabilise. It would then apply initially to new leases only, and it would be staged, starting with properties with the lowest BER rating.

The initiative will address the fact that people in rented accommodation are more than twice as likely as homeowners to live in a house with poor energy efficiency. This is because landlords are responsible for home improvements, while tenants are responsible for paying energy bills.

Minister White said “This initiative would be one of the biggest changes to the Irish rental market in the history of the State. Given its far-reaching consequences, a public consultation will take place later this year to gather evidence on the impact of this measure. While we want to ensure that people in rented accommodation live in warm, comfortable homes, we will not introduce measures that reduce the availability of rental accommodation.”

The strategy to combat energy poverty will also require the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) to examine why more electricity and gas customers in energy poverty don’t switch their energy supplier, despite the substantial savings that switching can bring. The CER will be asked to examine the structural factors that underpin consumer disengagement and outline possible solutions.

January 2016

Breffni Insulation can now accept card payments over the phone for insulation works completed.

March 2015

Major Increase in Grants to Householders for Energy Efficiency

Dublin, 10 March 2015

Minister for Energy, Alex White T.D., today announced a boost in the level of grants available to householders who want to undertake energy efficiency improvements. The cash value of every grant available to householders under the Better Energy Homes Scheme has been increased by between 25-50%. In addition, a bonus payment has been introduced which will see householders receive bonus payments if they complete three or more energy efficiency improvements.

The new grant levels are effective immediately and will apply to everyone who has applied for a grant that has not yet been paid.  The previous minimum grant threshold of €400 has been abolished and a bonus payment of €300 for householders who undertake three efficiency measures has been introduced, with an additional bonus payment of €100 available to householders who undertake four measures. The bonus payments are available to new applicants and to householders who have already availed of the scheme who wish to undertake further upgrades.

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to undertake energy efficiency measures such as insulating walls or attics and installing new heating systems. Since the scheme was launched in 2009 more than 165,000 homes have undertaken energy efficiency upgrades with a total Government investment of €172m.

Under the revised scheme, a family in a semi-detached house could benefit from a grant payment of up to €4700 for external wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade, and cavity and attic insulation. A couple in an apartment could receive €3400 towards internal wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade and the installation of solar thermal heating.

Commenting on the launch of the revamped scheme Minister White said “These efficiency improvements allow people to live in warmer, more comfortable homes while lowering their energy bills. For the country as a whole, they replace our dependence on imported fossil fuels with domestic jobs in the construction sector and help to meet our ambitious climate goals.”

“By increasing the grant levels, I hope that more householders will be encouraged to undertake efficiency improvements and by introducing bonus payments, I hope that previous grant recipients will be encouraged to come back to the scheme and undertake more works.”

Brian Motherway, CEO of SEAI said: “Thousands of homeowners have already availed of Better Energy Homes grants and are benefitting as a result. Their positive experiences, coupled with today’s announcement of higher grants, are a real incentive for even more people to consider home energy upgrades.”

It is estimated that the Better Energy Homes scheme has supported 12,770 jobs in the construction sector since 2009 and has delivered CO2 emissions savings of 214.7kt.

November 2013

Home Renovation Incentive (HRI)

Introduction

The Home Renovation Incentive was announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget speech on 15th October 2013 as a means of incentivising the construction sector, in particular the smaller contractors. There has been considerable interest in the scheme which has been supported by media advertising by businesses in the construction sector and by various announcements of financial support from banks, credit unions, etc.

What types of work qualify?

The work must be carried out on a person's main or principal private residence and qualifying works can include extensions, painting and decorating, plumbing, tiling, plastering, supply and fitting of windows, supply and fitting of kitchens, bathroom upgrades, landscaping, etc., which qualify for the rate of 13.5% VAT. The work can be carried out as one job or on a phased basis and it can be carried out by one or more Contractors.

Revenue provides full details of the Incentive on their website including detailed Frequently Asked Questions. Read More

December 2011

The Better Energy Home Scheme grants have been reduced in the recent budget. See our Grants section for further details.

July 2011

Breffni Insulation has been awarded ISO status for their excellence in Quality, Environmental and Health and Safety.

ISO 9001:2008 - Quality

ISO 14001:2004 - Enviromental

OHSAS 18001:2007 - Health and Safety