Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness
Last month the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) reported that almost 350,000 homes in Ireland have benefited from grants to make energy improvements and is urging homeowners to make use of the grants, which are available for work to homes built before 2006. These typically cover about 30% of the average cost of the upgrade works like roof and wall insulation, heating system upgrades and solar heating.
Recent sunshine might make us more inclined to think about the garden than the heating in our homes but now is actually the ideal time to plan upgrades in the next few months that will pay off next winter.
SEAI Chief Executive Jim Gannon said: “With recent sunshine and warmer weather, we’re less reliant on home heating and it’s easy to forget about the efficiency of our homes. However, now is the ideal time to think about heating and insulation upgrades.
“These are foolproof ways of making our homes cosier and less costly to run, while also benefiting the environment. People should be aware of their grant entitlements and apply now.”
So what grants are available? It depends on the work you get done. For insulation, there are grants available for amounts ranging from €300 up to €4500 , with the lowest amount for insulating an attic with a scale of jobs up to the highest amount for insulating a detached house.
There is up to €600 available for an upgrade to your heating controls, with an extra €100 if it includes an oil or gas boiler. The biggest heating grant is €1200, for homeowners who invest in solar heating. The SEAI will also give bonuses for doing three or more jobs and give householders up to €50 against the cost of getting a Building Energy Rating (BER) for their home.
The application process is straightforward. The work must be completed by a SEAI registered contractor, who must be registered for the particular measure that you want done. Homeowners are advised to get a number of quotes and then put a contact in place before applying for the grant. The grant application can be completed online for immediate approval. You can also apply by post, in which case you will get an offer within five days if everything is in order, which you must accept within 30 days. Once you have been approved for the grant you have six months to get the work done and all paperwork submitted. Your home must be assessed by a registered BER assessor who will certify the work. You can get a list of registered contractors and assessors at seai.ie. Once you return all forms correctly you can expect payment direct to your account in four to six weeks. The SEAI’s remit isn’t limited to providing grants. There is a wealth of other information available on their website. Their Energy Survey is simple to follow and complete and will give you a clear picture of how efficient the energy use in your home currently is. You can then follow the five-step energy plan to see how you can save money and help the environment in your management of heating, lighting, hot water usage and other areas.
The SEAI also have a second programme, the Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS), specifically aimed at vulnerable households in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of homes through the installation of draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation where appropriate.
Unlike the other grants, these are provided at no cost to the household and is available to owner occupied non-Local Authority homes, constructed before 2006. The owner must be in receipt of Fuel Allowance, Family Income Supplement, the One Parent Family Payment or Job Seekers Allowance (with some additional terms). If you think you may be eligible, you can contact the SEAI at 1800 250 204 or email email@example.com. There can be significant waiting times before the work is completed, depending on demand, so act fast if interested.
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