Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (15)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

15. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the number of applicants awaiting the installation of SEAI warmer homes scheme upgrades by county; the national average waiting time in tabular form; the average waiting time for applicants in counties Limerick and Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7712/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

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 142,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. There are currently over 7,800 homes awaiting works on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme. This includes homes that are: currently undergoing works; have been allocated to contractors for works; have completed an initial home survey and are awaiting allocation to a contractor or are awaiting the initial survey of their home.

As indicated in the table below, there are currently 252 homes in Limerick and 283 homes in Tipperary on the Warmer Homes work programme. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, a year which included COVID-19 restrictions, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months.  The information requested on wait times on a per county basis is not readily available. The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis.

The SEAI has advised me that the average wait time quoted above should only ever be used as a general guide and that wait times vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application as well as other factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials and the weather.  The COVID-19 public health restrictions fully halted works under the programme for a time last year and again since January this year so are particularly relevant in that regard. 

It is important to note that funding for the SEAI energy poverty retrofit schemes has increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation and means that almost half of the total SEAI residential and community retrofit budget will support people vulnerable to energy poverty.  This funding will mean that more households can receive free energy efficiency upgrades making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, in line with the Programme for Government.

In addition to the increased budget, capacity by the industry to deliver more activity has also increased due to a new, broader contractor panel to provide works which commenced at the end of 2020. I also secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to allow it drive the various grant programmes that it operates, including the Warmer Homes Scheme, and to ensure that level of activity envisaged under the Programme for Government is delivered. 

The table below shows a county by county breakdown of the national total work programme.

County

Count of County

Carlow

82

Cavan

95

Clare

143

Cork

743

Donegal

364

Dublin

2625

Galway

364

Kerry

222

Kildare

252

Kilkenny

97

Laois

84

Leitrim

89

Limerick

252

Longford

72

Louth

154

Mayo

375

Meath

251

Monaghan

69

Offaly

124

Roscommon

139

Sligo

122

Tipperary

283

Waterford

205

Westmeath

169

Wexford

271

Wicklow

231

Grand Total

7877