Cost and lack of information stops Irish homeowners from retrofitting their homes, analysis says

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OVERCOMING the prohibitive cost of home retrofits and the lack of information about the process, available technology and grants, are key to enabling the widespread uptake of energy retrofitting across Ireland, according to new analysis by Tipperary Energy Agency.

Focused on information gleaned between 2015 and 2019 from 761 householders who applied for Tipperary Energy Agency’s SuperHomes scheme, the analysis shows homeowners’ “real desire to radically improve their homes’ energy efficiency and to adopt renewable energy.”

Paul Kenny, CEO of the Tipperary Energy Agency, commented on the findings: “The number of people who wish to do this renovation is clearly evidenced from this report.

“But their dream of a comfortable, affordable and green home can’t come true due to the lack of approved financial institutions offering low-interest finance, the stop start nature of the grant aid, and confused and unclear information.”

Half of all applicants said the high up-front cost of the energy retrofit (typically between €30,000 and €80,000), was the main barrier to going ahead with improving their home.

The second biggest barrier to uptake of deep retrofits was poor information, with homeowners confused about the process of retrofitting and the best technologies.

The main reasons why people said they wanted to go ahead with a deep retrofit were comfort – a warm, well-ventilated home, and the financial savings that having an energy efficient home would bring.

AIB green mortgage is a good example of the kind of financing which could help increase retrofitting.

It offers a 2.45% fixed rate for all A1 to B3 energy rated homes.

Mr Kenny commented on this: “When you consider the energy savings that come from retrofitting, and interest savings over a long time you may find that the retrofit won’t cost you any money.”

Tipperary Energy Agency announced last week that it has secured significant EU funding to further the development of its domestic retrofit programme, SuperHomes.

The SuperHomes 2030 Project, which is supported by the EU Horizon 2020 programme will run for three years.

The other project partners are Electricity Supply Board, Limerick Institute of Technology, Sustainability Works and The European Heat Pump Association, who will all come together to address the main challenges of scaling up domestic deep retrofit in Ireland.

One of the other barriers to retrofitting mentioned by the Agency’s SuperHomes clients was concern about the technicalities of whether it could be done in their house.

Mr Kenny continued: “There are no technical issues that can’t be solved. The solutions can sometimes be cost-prohibitive.

“Likewise when it comes to concerns about time and lifestyle disruption, this can be minimised by having a well organised contractor, in particular for the works inside the house.”