The SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low-income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, more than 142,000 households have received free upgrades under the scheme, making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run. The value of works carried out under the scheme now ranges between €5,800 and €28,500 per home, depending on the starting condition of the property and suitability for the measures available.
Eligible homes are allocated for initial survey on a first come, first served basis, and as the Deputy has said, the average time between application and survey is now 21 months. This wait time is a result of strong demand for what is an extremely popular scheme. There are currently more than 7,000 homes at various stages of the scheme work programme.
The SEAI originally estimated that works would be completed in approximately 3,500 homes under the scheme this year. Delivery has however been negatively impacted by Covid, particularly between March and June when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines. In line with the wider construction sector, retrofit works are continuing, subject to a full risk assessment and compliance with all available guidelines. Activity under this scheme is now expected be closer to 1,500 homes this year.
Budget 2021 provides €109 million in capital funding to support lower income households to retrofit their homes. This is the largest budget ever for this purpose. It is expected that this funding will support free energy efficiency upgrades for up to 5,800 lower income households, in line with the programme for Government. Capacity by the industry to deliver increased activity will also be increased due to a new, broader contractor panel to provide works commencing this month. Recommendations on the implementation of changes to the scheme to better target those most in need will be finalised shortly.