Blockages to Retrofitting and Heat-pump Installation in Ireland

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Blockages to Retrofitting and Heat-pump Installation in Ireland
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Friends of the Earth has published a research report on barriers to retrofitting in Ireland. This report was informed by interviews with experts in energy poverty and energy efficiency in an Irish context. It provides an overview of the challenges faced by Irish households, policymakers, and government bodies in achieving our retrofit and heat pump targets and notes a range of solutions identified by experts. Ireland’s housing stock remains some of Europe’s most inefficient, leaving many of us with high energy bills and vulnerable to shocks like the current energy crisis. Despite some positive announcements from the Government in their new retrofit scheme, this report shows there remains major barriers to achieving their target of retrofitting half a million homes by 2030, and doing so in a way that leaves no one out in the cold. Key Findings include: 

  • Policy design & finance options are not sufficiently tailored to the needs of certain groups including low-income households, tenants, rural dwellers, and the Traveller community.
  • Key barriers for households include high upfront costs, a lack of trust in the process of retrofitting, and low awareness of the benefits.
  • A low standard of rental housing, a lack of tailored finance options for landlords to retrofit, and no clarity on tenant protection from “renovictions” leaves the private rental sector excluded from retrofitting benefits.
  • The Government has continued to fail to produce an updated Energy Poverty Strategy, leaving questions around whether homes most at-risk of energy poverty are being sufficiently identified and targeted in Government retrofit schemes.
  • There is a shortage of skilled labour and materials available to undertake retrofitting works.

 Recommendations Include: 

  • The eligibility criteria for the SEAI’s Warmer Homes scheme for 100% grants should be expanded to include tenants who receive Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
  • Local Community Energy Advisors should be introduced by the SEAI across all counties/local authorities to increase awareness amongst hard-to-reach energy users.
  • The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications should immediately produce a new energy poverty strategy
  • Social housing retrofit targets must be increased greatly from the current 36,500, or just 7% of total retrofits to be completed by 2030.
  • Tailored measures for retrofitting the Private Rental Sector must be introduced such as raising awareness of the introduction of minimum BERs from 2025, and introducing tailored finance options to address the split incentive issue.
  • The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and the SEAI should expedite the rollout of area-based approaches to retrofitting.
  • Support for bottom-up, local community initiatives to offer peer-support and advice for those unsure of the retrofitting process and for communities interested in progressing retrofits jointly.
  • Guidance should be produced for retrofitting traditional buildings and older dwellings.

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