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"Homeowners in Ireland Can Now Benefit from Expanded Range of Subsidies for Energy-Saving Upgrades"

Irish homeowners looking to make their homes more energy-efficient and cheaper to run have been given a boost with the expansion of subsidies available. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has increased the range of subsidies available to homeowners, making it easier for them to upgrade their homes. The SEAI is a government agency tasked with promoting the use of sustainable energy in Ireland. It offers grants for attic and wall insulation, heat pump systems, and renewable technologies such as solar PV. The SEAI has over 1,000 registered contractors to carry out these works, and an easy-to-use online application system for homeowners to get started.

In addition to the range of individual measures available, the SEAI also provides a ‘One Stop Shop’ service. One Stop Shops offer homeowners all the services required for a complete home energy upgrade. Registered private operators manage the entire process, from the initial assessment through to applying for the grant, carrying out the works and completing a final BER (Building Energy Rating) assessment. The value of the grant is deducted upfront from the cost of works, which can really help with cash flow for large projects. The SEAI recommends starting with a BER assessment. This will give homeowners a list of the measures likely to have the biggest impact on improving their home’s energy rating, and a personalised roadmap to bring their home up to a BER rating of B2 or better.

If homeowners are considering a full home energy upgrade in one go, then they should contact an SEAI-registered One Stop Shop and get a home energy assessment. SEAI offers a stand-alone grant of €350 for this assessment, which provides a detailed technical report of the upgrades needed to meet the One Stop Shop grant requirement, as well as a rough estimate of likely costs. Homeowners are not under any obligation to carry out these works after the assessment, but they will still receive the grant for the home energy assessment.

When exploring home energy upgrade options, it is recommended that homeowners shop around, get a number of quotes, and make sure the quotes they are comparing are like for like. If they decide to install more upgrades and go to an A-rated home, their quote is likely to be higher than that for achieving a very acceptable B2. A full list of all of the One Stop Shops in the area can be found on the SEAI.ie website.

For homeowners who do not want a whole-house upgrade or do not have the resources for that right now, it is possible to opt for one or a number of individual upgrade measures such as attic or wall insulation. Homeowners manage the project themselves. They select a registered SEAI contractor, apply for the grant, and claim it back from SEAI on completion of the works. There is no requirement to have a minimum BER rating to be eligible for one of these individual energy upgrades. All of these measures seek first to improve the building fabric so the house needs as little energy as possible to stay warm. Any energy needed is then generated by sustainable technologies.

It is important to point out, however, that heat pumps use electricity, and because electricity has become so expensive, the energy savings as a result of an upgrade are not as good as they once were. However, a whole house energy upgrade transforms the comfort of a house. If homeowners live in a draughty, poorly insulated home that relies on an oil boiler, they will be used to going from freezing cold to boiling hot very quickly or having pockets of the house that never warm up. An energy upgrade gives them stable temperatures and great air quality throughout the house. So while savings are very important, they are not the full story.

The SEAI offers three grant routes to help homeowners upgrade their homes: the fully funded energy upgrade, the One Stop Shop service, and individual energy upgrade grants. The fully funded home energy upgrade service is suitable for qualifying homeowners, while the One Stop Shop service is suitable for homeowners and non-corporate landlords who want multiple energy upgrades, to upgrade to a minimum B2 BER, a fully managed solution including grant application, to pay for the works net of eligible grant. The individual energy upgrade grants are suitable for homeowners and non-corporate landlords who want individual energy upgrades, to manage their project, to apply for the grant themselves, to pay for the full cost of works and claim the grant afterward.

The fully funded energy upgrade service is available for homes built and occupied before 2006 and for homeowners in receipt of certain welfare benefits. The One Stop Shop service is available for homes built and occupied before 2011, and homes must complete a minimum level of works to achieve a B2 rating. The individual energy upgrade grants are available for all homes, regardless of their BER rating.

Overall, the expansion of subsidies available to Irish homeowners is a great opportunity for them to upgrade their homes, making them more comfortable and cheaper to run. With a range of options available, homeowners can choose the one that best suits their needs and budget, and the SEAI is on hand to provide support and advice throughout the process.

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