Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1546)

Róisín Shortall


1546. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason low-income pensioners are precluded from availing of SEAI grants for wall insulation if they received support for attic insulation; the reason for same in view of the fact that wall insulation was not covered by the grant originally; his views on whether this is fair or reasonable for low income pensioners who struggle to afford to heat their homes; the reason a review of the scheme has not been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36695/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

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 vulnerable to energy poverty. 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.

The aim of the scheme is to deliver a range of energy efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding, focusing eligibility to those in receipt of certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, such as the Fuel Allowance, and limiting each home to one visit for an energy efficiency upgrade.

Last year, the measures provided under the scheme were extended to include external and internal wall insulation. Subject to survey by SEAI and assessment of potential for improved energy performance, the scheme can, in certain circumstances, include internal or external wall insulation. This permits the upgrade of more property types such as homes with solid walls, and also increases the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve and will also enable future fuel switching.

Demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these types of works and the available budget. The homeowners on this waiting list have never received any form of free upgrade from SEAI under the scheme.

The Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. This review is underway and will consider the issue of revisits for additional works.