Research by Friends of the Earth & The Irish Green Building Council shows how to bridge the gap between home energy renovation and energy poverty

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Today Friends of the Earth launches significant research [1] on energy poverty and home retrofitting undertaken by the Irish Green Building Council. Titled "Bridging the Gap Between Energy Poverty and Energy Renovation", the report provides comprehensive recommendations to the Irish government on targeting energy renovation programs, improving affordability measures, and increasing investment in social housing retrofitting.

This new research comes a week after the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was passed in the European Parliament, which will put an obligation on member states to ensure that financial incentives for energy renovations are targeted towards vulnerable households, and to ensure that groups such as social housing tenants and tenants in the private rental sector benefit from energy renovation schemes. [2]

Despite recent increases in home energy renovations, energy poverty levels have been at a record level in Ireland since the energy crisis with almost one third of Irish households reported to be experiencing energy poverty in 2022 [3]. Living in energy poverty is closely linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Vulnerable communities, including single-parent households, ethnic minorities, disabled individuals, and the elderly, are disproportionately affected. 

One of the root causes of energy poverty is low energy performance of buildings, and the report recommends that the government develop a comprehensive approach to energy renovations that effectively tackle energy poverty. 

Key Recommendations:

  • Set up an extensive network of independent energy renovation advisors to directly support households, especially those at risk of energy poverty, in navigating the renovation process by improving accessibility and providing tailored information.

  • Review and update SEAI’s overall mandate to ensure a stronger focus is placed on aiding vulnerable households and taking a more holistic approach to energy upgrades. This is to guarantee fairness and make the most of retrofit funding.

  • Increase funding for energy renovation of social housing & AHBs to improve living conditions for households most at-risk of energy poverty and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

  • Review funding mechanisms to address energy poverty ensuring they target those who need it most, include renewable energy technologies, and are adaptable to the needs of energy-poor households.

The report comes off the back of intensive stakeholder engagement that involved interviews, workshops, and collaboration with industry, government, community organisations and anti-poverty groups.

Clare O’Connor, Energy Policy Officer at Friends of the Earth, said:

“This comprehensive research on better targeting of government retrofit programmes comes as the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive sets obligations on Ireland to prioritise vulnerable households in national retrofit efforts. 

The recommendation to establish a network of independent renovation advisors would be particularly impactful, and would allow more people to get the direct support needed to access retrofitting grants. Ramping up funding for social housing retrofitting will allow local authorities & AHBs  to take an exemplary role in decarbonisation and guaranteeing warm homes for their tenants. Implementing these recommendations is a win-win for reducing pollution, reducing energy bills, and improving the health of communities across Ireland.”

Marion Jammet, Head of Policy & Advocacy at the Irish Green Building Council, said:

“The development and implementation of Ireland’s national renovation strategy presents a fantastic opportunity to improve the situation of vulnerable households, in addition to reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions. The report launched today calls for a review of Ireland’s retrofit programmes on a regular basis to ensure they support those households that will face the greatest challenges in our transition to a low-carbon built environment. Better identifying, targeting, and prioritising those most at risk of energy poverty must become a priority.”



  1. Report in full is available here:

  2. Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (2024)

  3. ESRI Energy Poverty (2022)

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Energy Poverty