The energy efficiency grants administered by the SEAI are funded by my Department. Grants are available to homeowners for insulation, heating controls, heat pumps and solar thermal hot water heating systems. Grants are also available for solar PV systems, electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging. Grants are also available for businesses to improve their energy efficiency. The majority of the home energy grants are available to homeowners whose properties were built before 2006. Since the introduction of these grants nearly 400,000 homes across the country have received an energy efficiency upgrade, representing nearly one home in five across the country. Grants are administered through a range of schemes:
- The Better Energy Homes scheme provides a financial incentive, typically covering 30% of the cost of works, to private homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes.
- The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme provides a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty who meet the defined eligibility criteria.
- The Deep Retrofit Pilot Programme is available to homeowners who want to upgrade their house to an A BER while availing of grant support of up to 50%. 4 homeowners in Cork availed of this grant in 2018.
- The Better Energy Communities scheme supports energy efficiency upgrades to mixed projects of homes, community facilities and businesses in a local community. This scheme provided funding of €20m in 2018 to 37 projects across the country, upgrading 1,189 homes and 454 community buildings. In 2018 12 of these projects included homes and community buildings in County Cork.
- The Sustainable Energy Communities scheme supports and funds communities to build capacity and develop plans to upgrade the energy efficiency of their local area. 24 communities in Co Cork are signed up to the network.
In 2018 €5,251,691 was invested in improving the efficiency of homes in Co Cork. This was an increase of almost €1.7m on the investment made in 2017 in Co Cork, reflecting the increased investment overall by Government in energy efficiency. Fewer homes were upgraded however, reflecting the shift to deeper, more expensive measures that also result in more carbon savings.
A number of actions are already underway to encourage investment in energy efficiency and further uptake of home energy grants by homeowners across the country. For example, the Better Energy Homes Scheme was expanded in 2018 to support the transition away from fossil fuels, and achieve greater energy savings and emissions reductions, by introducing a new grant for heat pumps and increasing the grant amount available for all other measures. In addition, the Better Energy Warmer Homes was also expanded in 2018 to include internal and external wall insulation which allows more people to avail of the scheme and also increases the energy savings and emissions reductions from the investment made. More information can be found on the website of the SEAI.