The 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, over 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme. In the first six months of 2021, the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was approximately €17,100. There are currently over 7,000 homeowners on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme.
Data from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) indicates that for homes completed in the first half of 2021, the average time from application to completion was approximately 26 months. The SEAI has advised 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 average wait times have increased significantly due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity in place during much of 2020 as well as between January and mid-April this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines. Wait times have also been negatively impacted by challenges associated with availability and longer lead time for materials. However, delivery capacity in the supply chain has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.
Funding for SEAI energy poverty retrofit schemes has increased significantly to over €109 million in 2021, with €100 million allocated to the Warmer Homes Scheme. 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 is available to support people vulnerable to energy poverty. The 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. I have also secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme.