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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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Homeowners to pay back cost of house retrofits through their energy bills over 10 to 20 years

The initiative is contained in the new Climate Action Plan which will be published in a couple of weeks.

Image: Shutterstock/Sunshine Studio

HOMEOWNERS COULD END up paying for the retrofitting of their houses with a 10- or 20-year loan split across their energy bills. 

A proposed new government plan under consideration includes a pay-back system for the retrofitting of homes, modelled on a similar scheme in the Netherlands. 

The initiative is contained in Minister Richard Bruton’s Climate Action Plan, which is expected to be put before government in the next few weeks.

A big focus in the plan is improving home insulation so that homes are warmer and need less heating, therefore helping the environment and saving homeowners on their energy bills.

However, the government has noted that one of the big barriers to retrofitting homes is cost. 

While retrofitting a house results in people making big savings on their energy bills in the long-term, there are big upfront costs.

Average costs of a deep retrofit of a house prior to grant funding range from €20,000 and €40,000 if funded through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 

The plan would see people pay back the cost of the retrofitting of their home through low-cost loans administered through their energy bills for up to 20 years.  

Pay and save model 

In light of the up-front costs, particular consideration is being given to the pay and save model.

The government’s Climate Action Plan sets out how the current approach to retrofitting homes is not going to meet the current target of 45,000 dwellings a year over the next decade. 

In a bid to hit that number, the minister is attempting to finalise a new delivery model and has looked most favourably to this Dutch approach.

In the Netherlands, the government funded a project called ‘Energiesprong’, which saw builders being given incentives to improve efficiency and speed in retrofits. They were asked for turnaround times of three days per house. 

The plan also clustered the demand for renovations in an area before sending out builders to carry out the work. Specific areas are targeted to make it easier to inform and engage the homeowners.

The government wants to avoid a scenario of builders delivering retrofitting in a house one day in Fermoy, and the next day in Dundrum. This, it is understood, will be avoided due to the scheme ensuring that work be carried out in the same area or estate for a fixed period of time. 

The new measure is just one of a suite of initiatives contained in the new action plan. 

Over the weekend, it was reported by the Irish Times that installation of new domestic oil and gas boilers could be banned in the next few years under the new plan. 

It reported that the installation of gas and oil boilers in new homes will be banned within three and six years, which would begin a process to phase out the use of fossil fuel heating systems in all homes. 

Earlier this month, Ireland became the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.

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