The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households that are vulnerable to energy poverty. Energy poverty is a function of a person's income, the price of energy and the energy efficiency of the home. To date, over 135,000 homes have received free upgrades under the Scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. Since the Scheme is 100% Exchequer funded, it is designed to be available only to those in most need of Government assistance. To determine this with complete accuracy, the SEAI would need to know the condition of an applicant's home, including its energy efficiency level and heating system, the applicant's family circumstances and their household income level. However, it would not be practical or efficient for the SEAI to perform this assessment for each applicant to the Warmer Homes Scheme. For that reason, eligibility for the Scheme is determined through the use of indicators, principally the National Fuel Allowance. This provides an established mechanism to enable SEAI to find and identify people in energy poverty without having to create and finance a further expensive and intrusive administrative means test type regime.
The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme is a separate Pilot Scheme which aims to measure the health and wellbeing impacts of improving the energy efficiency of a person’s home. The Scheme is being piloted in Community Healthcare Organisation 7. The Scheme is open to people aged 55 and over or aged 12 and under who are living with chronic respiratory conditions in households that are in receipt of the Fuel Allowance or the One-Parent Family Payment.
There are currently no plans to amend the income eligibility criteria for either Scheme.