In an effort to gain valuable insights into the awareness and attitudes towards home energy saving grants and measures in Ireland to help shape the development of the Community Energy Hub, a survey was conducted among a diverse group of participants following information events across the Southeast. Over 140 people attended the events hosted in Libraries in Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford & Waterford, in addition to two online events. The survey aimed to gauge respondents’ understanding of available grants, their motivation for pursuing energy-saving measures, their confidence levels in implementing such measures, and their opinion on the potential benefits of a Community Energy Hub. Let’s delve into the key findings of the survey.
Understanding of Home Energy Saving Grants: The survey began by assessing the respondents’ understanding of the current home energy saving grants in Ireland. The results indicated a varied level of awareness among participants. Approximately 19.05% of respondents claimed an excellent understanding of the grants, while 47.62% indicated having some knowledge but not a comprehensive understanding. Surprisingly, 33.33% admitted to having little to no knowledge about the available grants.
Sources of Information on Home Energy Saving: Participants were asked where they typically sought information regarding home energy saving tips or advice before attending the Home Energy Information Event. The majority of respondents (54.76%) stated that they primarily relied on government or Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) websites. Social media platforms were the second most popular choice, with 16.67% of participants using them as a source of information. Other sources included attending information events and workshops (2.38%), TV advertisements (7.14%), information leaflets and booklets (11.90%), and the local authority (4.76%).
Barriers to Implementing Home Energy Saving Measures: When asked about the biggest barriers or challenges they faced when considering home energy-saving grants or measures, respondents cited financial barriers as the primary obstacle (54.76%). The high costs associated with implementing energy-saving measures often discouraged individuals from taking action. Lack of information was also a significant challenge, with 28.57% of participants expressing uncertainty about the available grants and measures. The convenience and time-consuming nature of the process were identified as barriers by 14.29% of respondents.
Motivations for Applying Home Energy Saving Measures: The survey aimed to uncover the motivations behind individuals’ interest in applying for home energy-saving grants or implementing energy-saving measures in their residences. The results revealed that the primary motivation for respondents was cost savings, with a significant majority (78.05%) expressing a desire to reduce their energy bills and save money. Additionally, 17.07% stated that improving home comfort and health were driving factors, while only 4.88% mentioned environmental impact as a motivation.
Confidence Levels in Applying for Home Energy Grants: Confidence levels among respondents regarding their ability to apply for home energy grants or carry out energy-saving measures independently varied. Only 19.05% claimed to be confident in their ability, while 42.86% felt somewhat confident but acknowledged the need for guidance. A notable 35.71% expressed a lack of confidence and stated they would require professional assistance before proceeding.
Perceived Utility of a Community Energy Hub: Participants were asked to assess the usefulness of a Community Energy Hub, considering the information they acquired at the Home Energy Information Event. An overwhelming majority (95%) believed that a Community Energy Hub would be beneficial to them and others in their community. They saw it as a valuable resource providing centralized information, resources, and support for home energy-saving measures.
The survey findings shed light on the current state of awareness, motivations, and challenges related to home energy-saving measures in Ireland. The results highlight the need for improved dissemination of information about available grants, addressing financial barriers, and providing guidance. This is what the Community Energy Hub will address, making energy upgrades and grant information easier to access and understand for individuals and communities.
As part of Strand 2 of the Community Climate Action Programme, the South East Energy Agency in conjunction with POBAL, & Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford & Waterford Libraries are developing a new online resource platform called the Community Energy Hub, which will enable households to better understand energy efficiency in the home and help streamline grant and funding streams for energy upgrades. As part of the Community Energy Hub project, we held these workshops and conducted a survey with attendees, to help us understand what barriers people face engaging in home and community energy projects.