Homeowners can now access a wide selection of grants from the SEAI to retrofit their home and make it more energy efficient. Depending on the retrofitting work you choose to do, the grants will cover 40% to 70% of the overall cost.
In February 2022, the Government launched the €8 billion National Home Retrofit Scheme package designed to drive retrofit demand and capacity. Grants for deep retrofits were increased from 35% to 50%, and the Government committed to retrofitting 500,000 homes to a BER of B2 by 2030.
SEAI grants cover up to €25,000 of the costs of a deep retrofit, bringing your home up to a B2 rating or above. Free energy upgrades available for families at risk of energy poverty have been increased to €400 a month, while grants for attic and cavity wall insulation have increased to 80%. An additional grant of €2,000 is available for homeowners who install a heat pump as part of their retrofit.
The Government estimates that a deep retrofit will cost around €66,000 to bring a home up to a B2 BER standard and install a heat pump. Each grant varies depending on home types and improvements made, with funding available for insulating attics, walls and floors, as well as for heat pumps, heating controls and solar panels. Further grant support is also available for new doors, windows and ventilation.
FULLY FUNDED ENERGY UPGRADE
Formerly known as the ‘Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme’, the Fully Funded Energy Grant provides free energy-efficient home upgrades for homeowners that receive certain welfare payments. Eligibility requirements include those on job seeker’s allowance, disability allowance and working/one-parent family payments. The scheme also prioritises homes built before 1993 with a BER of E, F or G.
Successful applicants receive a free assessment from an SEAI surveyor, who will recommend the most suitable upgrades, and there are a wide range of supports available under the scheme, including grants for attic and wall insulation; a heat pump system; heating controls; solar hot water heating and solar electricity.
The grant also covers the costs of a home survey and installation and contractor costs, and a Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate upon completion of the project.
Otherwise, people who own homes built before 2011 with a BER of B3 or lower can pursue a deep retrofit as a stand-alone project and have a wide range of energy-focused improvements overseen by a single contractor under the One Stop Shop service on the SEAI website. This approach eases the process for homeowners by providing a start-to-finish service, which includes choosing and managing contractors, applying for the SEAI grants, and having a BER assessment undertaken upon completion. The One Stop Shop then claims the grant back from SEAI on completion of works.
If a deep retrofit is financially prohibitive or too disruptive, homeowners can instead take a step-by-step approach to retrofitting and avail of Individual Energy Upgrade Grants which provide up to 80% funding for energy upgrades. By adopting a longer-term strategy, homeowners can carry out the attic and cavity wall insulation one year, add new windows and doors the following year, and incrementally pursue further improvements and upgrades, such as an air-to-water heat pump system and Solar PV panels, as time and budgets permit.
This individual energy upgrade grant allows you to select which home improvements to pursue, choose the registered contractor, and complete the work yourself. However, despite bearing greater responsibility for the grants process, you still need to wait for the approval of the grant before starting the project. You should also bear in mind that the selection of grants available is greater for the One Stop Shop route than for individual grant applicants.
Insulation is an excellent entry point for anyone embarking upon a deep retrofit, and The National Home Retrofit Scheme offers four types of SEAI insulation grants, up to a maximum of €8000. On average, a home loses 20-30% of its heat through its roof if it is not adequately insulated, so the attic is an excellent place to begin making your home airtight. Grants will cover up to 70% of the total attic insulation cost. Grants of €800 are available for apartments, while mid-terrace and semi-detached properties and detached homes can avail of grants of €1,200, €1,300 and €1,500 respectively.
The SEAI estimates that a four-bed detached house of 150m2 using fibreglass insulation would cost between €700 and €1,000 (excluding grants) to upgrade to the recommended insulation depth. For a house of this size with an energy bill of €1,600 per annum, upgrading to this level of attic insulation could result in savings of around €250 per annum.
Three types of wall insulation grants are available from the SEAI, ranging from €700 to €8,000.
If you are fortunate enough to have a cavity wall with enough of a gap, pumping insulation into the space is the most cost-effective way to insulate your home. Cavity walls are typically constructed of two “leafs” of cement blocks with an air gap of 100mm to 150mm between the leafs. This air gap is pumped with tiny polystyrene insulation beads. This type of insulation work is the least intrusive in terms of the disruption caused to the homeowner. A series of small holes are drilled in the external wall at regular intervals. The insulation bead is pumped into the gap from the outside of the house and the drilled holes are then sealed.
Cavity wall insulation grants of €700 are available for apartments, while grants of €800 and €1,200 are provided for terraced and semi-detached homes. Detached homes can benefit from a grant of €1,700.
A building contractor or architect can tell you what type of wall your home has and advise you on the type of ventilation required. Designing for adequate ventilation is vital when sealing the house, otherwise condensation issues can occur.
If you have a hollow block or a solid wall, you will have to apply internal or external wall insulation (EWI). Solid walls are found in most houses built before the 1940’s and EWI offers a complete, structurally sound envelope that acts like a ‘tea cosy’ around the building and can achieve higher wall insulation U-values.
External wall insulation or ‘The Wrap’ is generally only suited to deeper-dive projects as it activates Part L-stipulations of the building regulations which classifies projects which alter more than 25% of the external envelope as a major renovation. This will require that the building is brought up to cost optimal level, and heating systems and lighting over 15 years old will have to be upgraded.
External wall insulation grants of €3,000 and €3,500 are available for apartments and mid- terrace properties, while semi-detached and detached homes receive €6,000 and €8,000 respectively.
Dry lining insulation or internal wall insulation involves fitting insulation boards inside exterior walls to help improve thermal performance. Apartment owners are eligible for an internal wall insulation grant of €1,500, regardless of the size of the apartment, while grants of €2,000 are available for mid-terraced properties and €3,500 for semi-detached or end-of-terrace home. Homeowners with a detached property are eligible for a grant of €4,500.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Responsible for as much as 20-30% of a home’s heat loss, replacing old single-pane windows with new energy-efficient ones with double or triple glazing could reduce energy bills by €100 to €400 per year and significantly improve comfort levels while also boosting the home’s airtightness.
SEAI grants for windows and doors are also limited to ‘One-Stop Shop’ customers and window grants are capped at €1,500 for apartments and €1,800 for terraced properties, while semi-detached properties and detached properties can avail of grants of €3,000 and €4,000. Homeowners can also receive a grant towards external doors fixed at €800 per door.
With the roof, walls and floor insulated and new windows and doors installed, your home is airtight and well advanced on its energy efficiency journey and the target BER rating of B2 or better. Once you have sealed your home and it is more efficient, the next step is to improve the heating systems.
An alternative to fossil fuel heating systems, heat pumps are renewable heat systems that ‘pump’ heat from one place to another and ensure lower energy costs and reduced carbon emissions. They gather renewable solar gain stored in the earth, air or water (termed the collector) and using a vapour-compression cycle transform it into thermal energy we can use for indoor air and water.
Depending on the system selected, the SEAI offers heat pump grants of up to €6,000 for a house and up to €4,500 for installing a heat pump in an apartment. To qualify for a heat pump system grant, the house must be well insulated and have low heat loss.
Before applying for the grant, applicants must select a SEAI Registered Technical Advisor to conduct a technical assessment and advise on what steps must be taken to prepare your home heat pump. The assessor will determine if elements of your existing system will suit a heat pump, including the radiators, which must be oversized to suit lower flow rates and temperatures.
The heat pump selected must meet 100% of the dwelling space heating demand and at least 80% of the hot water demand, and grants won’t be approved for homes using a heat pump for water alone or using a hybrid system to heat the house. In addition, the grant only covers first-time systems and is not available for replacement heat pump systems.
There is a retroactive grant aid for the Technical Assessment, which the SEAI will release after the fabric upgrades recommended by the technical assessor have been completed. A bonus payment of €2,000 is also payable to homes that reach a B2 energy rating using a heat pump and a further €1,000 grant is available for installing a central heating system in an apartment, while a €2,000 grant is available for a house.
Heat pumps offer low maintenance and operating costs and are suitable for installation in most modern (post-1978) Irish homes and will handle your home’s cooling and heating needs efficiently and effectively while also helping you to save money on your energy bills.
According to the SEAI, households can save up to 20% on their heating bills by using heating controls. Heating controls can heat hot water without turning on home heating and keep your home comfortably warm without overheating and wasting energy. By installing and using heating controls effectively, you could save money on your heating bills and lower your carbon emissions. Any homeowner whose house was built and occupied before 2011 can apply online for a heating control grant valued at up to €700.
SUPPORT FOR SOLAR
Solar thermal systems use the sun to heat the water and are designed to meet 50 to 60% of your home’s hot water needs. All homeowners whose dwellings were built and occupied before 2021 can apply for a solar water heating grant of up to €1,200.
Typical thermal solar systems cost between €800 to €1,300 per square metre. When considering the grant money offered, the additional expenses incurred will usually be made back within a few years and you will no longer be paying for new boilers, servicing, or immersion heaters. Having solar PV panels can save you €200 to €300 per year on your domestic electricity bills and having a high-quality solar PV system installed will typically cost between €5,000 to €7,000, including batteries and VAT. You can receive €1,800 for the first two solar panels installed and an additional €300 per solar panel after that, up to a maximum of €2,400.
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR ENERGY UPGRADES
We advise you to contact a BER assessor, building contractor or energy advisor to discuss the suitability of the upgrades you have in mind.
STEP 2: CONTACT AN SEAI REGISTERED ADVISOR
The advisor will provide you with a written contract for undertaking a technical assessment. This step only applies if you are applying for a heat pump grant.
STEP 3: CHOOSE A REGISTERED SEAI CONTRACTOR
The contractor you choose should provide you with a contract for any work before the actual work begins. You will need this contract later for the grant application process.
STEP 4: APPLY FOR THE CORRESPONDING GRANT OR GRANTS
You can apply either online via the SEAI website or by submitting a postal application. Online applications will receive grant offers immediately. Postal offers will be issued within five working days. You must accept the offer within the 30-day period after receiving it.
STEP 5: HAVE THE WORK CARRIED OUT
You must make sure all work is carried out within the following eight-month period. Your grant offer letter will contain the final date for completing the work. Be sure all work is carried out by an SEAI registered contractor. Either pay the contractor outright or organise financing with them, then complete a BER assessment and have a BER certificate published.
STEP 6: RECEIVE THE GRANT YOU APPLIED FOR
You must fill out and submit a Declaration of Works form, which the SEAI should have sent to you by post. You will need one form for each upgrade and each form needs to be filled in by you, your contractor and your BER assessor. Payment will usually be lodged in your bank account within four weeks of submitting the form.