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 142,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, and the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household in 2020 was over €14,800. I have secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Funding for the energy poverty retrofit schemes has also increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation. In addition, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.
There are currently over 7,800 homes on the scheme work programme. 782 of these homes are in Cork. This includes homes that: are currently undergoing works; have been allocated to contractors for works; completed an initial home survey and are awaiting allocation to a contractor or are awaiting initial survey. The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion for homes in Cork and nationally was approximately 18 months. The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity between March and June of last year as well as between January and 12 April of this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines. Works under the scheme have now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.
The SEAI has advised me that the average wait times 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 SEAI has established a panel of contractors to deliver the installation of energy efficiency measures in eligible homes nationwide under the scheme. There are 33 contractors on this panel including 4 contractors that have their businesses based in Cork. All contractors can deliver measures nationwide as per the requirements of appointment to the panel.
A further €112.5 million will be spent on expanding other existing SEAI residential and community grant schemes and introducing new initiatives. This will support an increased level of retrofit activity in 2021.