Building Services News l July/August 2019
PL: How has this ﬁgure been identiﬁed? TH: SEAI has responsibility for managing the national database of Building Energy Ratings (BER). There are currently over 810,000 valid BERs for homes across Ireland which is reasonably representative of the full housing stock. We analysed the data behind those ratings to identify how many homes are likely to have a sufﬁciently low heat loss to be suitable for a heat pump without additional works. PL: Where homes are not heat pump-ready, what measures are required to bring them up to that level? TH: Under the SEAI scheme, the applicant must engage an independent SEAI registered Technical Advisor before applying for the heat pump system grant. They will carry out a technical assessment as well as a full Building Energy Rating on the house. They will then provide guidance on the suitability of the dwelling for a heat pump system, based on the dwelling’s heat loss. They will also guide on measures necessary to ensure that the dwelling fabric heat loss is lowered to an acceptable level for a heat pump system to perform at its best.
SEAI provides a grant for this particular technical assessment, provided that any works designated are completed and the applicant also proceeds with the actual heat pump installation. This ﬁts with our advice for all home energy upgrades – get expert advice to start so as you make the right choices and prioritise works for best return on your investment. PL: These measures invariably mean a signiﬁcant spend for the householder; what supports are available to achieve that? TH: SEAI offers a number of grants for roof insulation (F400), cavity wall insulation (F400), dry-lining (F1,600-F2,400 depending on house type) or external wall insulation (F2,750-F6,000 depending on house-type). This represents around a third of the costs for a typical 3/4 bed semi-detached home. These upgrades will make the home more comfortable, easier and less costly to heat, and dramatically reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, with an improved BER, the value of the house increases. So there are huge beneﬁts all round. PL: Is the heat pump grant contingent on these measures being achieved? TH: To qualify for the technical assessment and heat pump grants, homeowners must carry out the recommended fabric upgrades to ensure the home meets the required heat loss indicator standard. Failure to do so will result in both grants being declined.
PL: Are there any plans for tailored ﬁnance packages to support these works, especially where a householder needs to address the fabric before availing of the heat pump grant? TH: In many cases people will be happy enough to do this work from personal savings, particularly if they are in the lower cost range. Having said that, we also know that access to trusted ﬁnance is one of the potential barriers to energy upgrades, not just heat pumps. We are currently working with a number of different ﬁnancial institutions and organisations to see what sort of innovative ﬁnance solutions can be introduced. One great example is the ProEnergy Homes Scheme now available in 20 Credit Unions, following a successful pilot last year. The scheme combines a dedicated project manager to support applicants every step of the way; a heavily subsidised home survey and report; easy access to SEAI grant funding towards the cost of approved energy upgrades; together with low-cost ﬁnance for the balance of the costs. Another example which has been piloted with a number of employers is a salary retention scheme, where an employer actually provides the ﬁnance and is then repaid through the person’s salary over an agreed period. You can expect to see a lot more ﬁnance and innovative service delivery approaches in the coming years as retroﬁt activity scales rapidly. PL: In these times of skills shortage across all industry sectors, are there sufﬁcient numbers of qualiﬁed/certiﬁed heat pump installers to meet the demand? TH: There are currently over 1,500 contractors, across all upgrade measures, on SEAI’s register of contractors for home energy grants.
Tom Halpin edit.indd 3
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