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HOME owners across Ireland with houses built in the 60s or 70s, or who are struggling to heat inefficient, more modern homes over 12 years old with poor BER rating, are being urged to group together and apply for a new retrofit scheme which offers between 50% and 95% of grant aid.

“The Deep Retrofit Pilot programme is now open and is also expected to spur budding home-owners who might previously have shunned the idea of buying an older home, to snap one up and apply for the grant” Clerk of Works with the 3 Counties Energy Agency (3CEA), Fergal Cantwell, says.

3CEA, formerly the Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency, has helped deliver cumulative energy savings of €14.3m plus over the past 5 years. Of this, 57% has been in thermal/heating costs for clients.

3CEA has worked with housing bodies like Carlow County Council and RESPOND housing. They have been installing heat pumps since 2012 as part of their own deep retrofit initiative. 3CEA already has 6 years’ experience in deep retrofit and that ensures a quality retrofit focus for those impacted by fuel poverty and low income households. It has helped complete retrofits on more than 2,500 houses as well as 500 deep retrofits since 2012.

“No shallow retrofit has been our mission since 2012 for fuel poor families,” according to 3CEA Manager, Paddy Phelan. “Get in once and future proof your home for 25-50 years to A2/A3 rating has always been our aim,” he added.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) scheme is only open to householders, local authorities or agencies who group 5 or more homes together and make a joint application. They can be part of housing associations or local authority schemes or neighbours, family or friends who own their own homes. And they don’t necessarily have to live in the same county.

Grouping applications together is only designed to improve administration and efficiency. The application deadlines are up to June 6, 2018 for group works over €250,000 or July 27 for group works under that threshold, 3CEA’s Fergal Cantwell explained.

While qualifying householders will be able to recoup half the cost of works in three, stage payments, those classified as ‘fuel poor’ may qualify for up to 95% grant aid.  The cost of deep retrofitting a typical home generally ranges from €30,000 to €40,000. Deep retrofit works that qualify for grant aid include attic and external insulation, introducing PV solar panels for electricity, a heat pump to replace oil or gas, window and door replacement.

As the name of the initiative suggests, remediation works need to be ‘deep’ and they need to boost the home’s energy rating from an F or a G BER to a minimum A3 reading.

Apart from the energy savings, Deep Retrofit is also expected to have significant health benefits as householders will enjoy cleaner, better circulated air, 3CEA’s Fergal Cantwell says.

“With the economy recovering and more people buying fixer-upper homes, we expect that take-up with be strong. A good few people with older homes may have been planning this sort of energy retrofit work anyway. Now they can get up to half of it grant-aided.

“But people need to contact us now. At 3CEA we can project manage the entire process for clients – from the initial application right through to completion and sign-off. We’ve just completed works on 12 local authority houses on College View in Wexford town. But applications from private home-owners are already starting to come in,” Mr Cantwell said.

3CEA is teaming up with the Wexford County Council for a workshop with local authorities and housing bodies in Wexford, date to be confirmed as event will be postponed. Among the speakers will be Paddy Phelan and Fergal Cantwell of 3CEA as well as SEAI’s Deep Retrofit Scheme Programme Manager, Conor Hannify.

For more information on the scheme and FAQ visit Deep Retrofit Progamme Page