€3m a week spent on refitting homes

RETIRED garda Brian Arrigan used to have to get up in the middle of the night, freezing, to put on the heating.

The 71-year-old is now one of thousands of homeowners saving money and enjoying more comfort thanks to funds which helped make his home more energy efficient.

The Government’s green jobs and homes initiative has seen a significant number of homeowners applying for grants to make their home improvements.

In just a few days, more than 2,000 homeowners have applied for state funds to get their properties fitted with “greener” appliances and works.

Between €3 million and €4m a week is being spent on refitting homes, which is beginning to fund some of the 2,000 jobs promised.

The Government’s jobs initiative, launched on May 10, pledged that at least 6,000 jobs would be created, mainly in the construction sector in areas such as education, clean energy home fittings as well as in the transport industry.

Figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) show a significant take-up of the better energy grants scheme.

Mr Arrigan was awarded €4,850 when he applied for the grant and with another €11,000 of his own money, his property was upgraded last October.

The outside wall on his two-storey south Dublin semi-detached house was further insulated, as was the roof. Special heating controls were put in too, making it easier to control temperatures in different parts of the house as well as heat water separately.

“It was always cold in the winter. My first one is over now with the changes. There was no comparison. I used to have to put the heating on 12 hours a day and get up in the night to put it on again. At 3am, it was like being in a fridge. I’ve saved 50% on bills,” he said.

More than 1,000 homeowners a week are applying for a variety of fittings, while the authority is fielding about 2,000 inquiries a week about the scheme.

SEAI chief operations officer Brian Motherway said: “The important thing is a quarter of all spending on these home fittings is going on people’s wages, giving employment in construction and to SMEs providing jobs. And the minute the workers leave, the homeowner feels warmer.”

The SEAI estimates it is paying out €1m a week for grants out of the €30m promised for the scheme by Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte. But it said homeowners are adding €2-€3 of their own to every €1 granted for works and fittings.


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