The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures, free of charge, to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty that meet the defined eligibility criteria. The scheme is delivered through a combination of SEAI appointed Community Based Organisations (CBOs), augmented by a panel of private contractors in order to ensure national coverage. The measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs, cavity wall insulation and energy advice. To date nearly 125,000 homes have benefitted from an energy efficiency upgrade under the scheme.
Since the scheme is 100% Exchequer funded it is my responsibility to ensure that it is targeted at those most in need of Government assistance. The eligibility criteria for the scheme is determined through the use of the existing indicators that the Deputy refers to. These indicators, having regard to the resources that the State can make available, identify people in energy poverty.
In the Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty, the Government has committed to keeping the eligibility criteria for the Warmer Homes scheme under review to ensure that the indicators in use are consistent with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s findings on deprivation in general. In particular I would note that while the scheme was initially only open to homeowners in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance, it has since been expanded to families in receipt of family income supplement and job seeker's allowance with young children, as there are health and well-being consequences to living in a cold and damp home and children can often be particularly vulnerable to these conditions. It was further extended to cover tenants in voluntary housing and those in receipt of the one parent family payment as these groups suffer from a particularly high deprivation rate in Ireland.