Insulation boosts family’s home comforts

DAVID KELLY and his young family say they have noticed a marked difference in the “comfort” of their 1960s bungalow since they got its exterior insulated – using the state grants available to householders.

While the Kellys highly recommend the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) scheme, they have emphasised the need to shop around for a supplier on the SEAI website as quotes vary hugely.

Last winter, despite the Baltic conditions, the family of four found that they didn’t need to switch on their central heating for as long as in previous winters as the hot air wasn’t flowing out through the exterior walls. Before getting their home insulated, they were spending up to €150 per month on natural gas bills. Last February, this bill had fallen to €120. They also find their home in Dalkey, Co Dublin “much more comfortable” to live in.

According to the latest SEAI figures, the retrofit schemes have been a huge success with more than 1,000 households receiving energy-saving grants every day to help with insulation, solar panel construction, high efficiency boilers and heating controls upgrades.

In total, more than 68,000 energy efficiency grants have been awarded since the scheme began in April last year. The SEAI claims it is receiving up to 500 phone calls, letters and emails about the scheme from the public and contractors.

The Kelly sought quotes from up to six companies selling insulation application and the estimates varied from €18,000-€24,000 for a 1,500 square-feet house in Dalkey, Co Dublin. They eventually bargained their supplier down to €15,000. Up to €6,000 of that final sum was paid for by the SEIA grant.

“We would say to shop around as there was a huge difference in what we were quoted and eventually paid. We also didn’t go for the cheapest supplier but the second cheapest as we liked their work. Last winter was particularly cold and so we still had large bills but we found that once the insulation went on, we didn’t need to have the heating on for as long. We’re expecting to see a marked drop in bills though this year if the winter is mild,” Mr Kelly said.

The house, built in 1965 without any insulation, was covered in rockwool insulation – which is exactly what it says: volcanic diabase rock which is spun into wool form and applied to the outside of the building before being covered with concrete layers.

A survey of the scheme by SEIA also found that 98.5% of people would recommend the scheme to neighbours. The findings were unveiled at a conference in Dublin yesterday organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) with the support of the SEAI, ESB, Bord Gáis, CRH and Dalkia.

Chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs Brendan Halligan described the retrofit programme as the biggest civil engineering project ever undertaken in the history of the state.

“The magnitude of this task is a direct consequence of the colossal failure on the part of Ireland to build to the highest standards,” said Mr Halligan.

The SEAI has described its list of certified tradesmen as being “like a trust list” as all the suppliers, regardless of what they charge, have undergone high-quality training with the SEIA.

Up to 5,000 people have found employment through the Home Energy Savings scheme, according to Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan.


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