Written by Liam Murtagh
OPPORTUNTIES FOR HOMEOWNERS AND ENERGY SECTOR
Want to save money by saving or generating energy? By using improved, affordable technology to ‘deep retrofit’ your home or by installing a heat pump or Solar PV this could become a reality. The people in SEAI have been highlighting the opportunities.
Deep retrofit is a new term for many people. Essentially it means significantly upgrading a building toward nearly zero energy requirements that is practically feasible and achievable. Rather than upgrading isolated parts of the house, the whole home should be assessed as a system, looking at how energy is used and retained. All aspects of the building fabric, insulation, air tightness, ventilation and renewables are assessed. While it will cost monies in the short term it will save you money in the long term.
€5 million has been allocated to the deep retrofit homes scheme. This will fund major energy efficiency upgrades to homes and low carbon heating systems this year. The new multi-annual scheme was launched at the 2017 SEAI roadshow by Minister of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten. It is expected to cover up to half the cost of upgrades for individual householders looking to upgrade their homes to an ‘A’ rating on the Building Energy Rating (BER) scale. Full details on how to get involved in the 2017 pilot programme will be published shortly on the SEAI website.
In a week when we heard from the EPA that Ireland’s climate damaging emissions from fossil fuels are increasing in many sectors, this deep retrofit initiative should result in a reduction in emissions from the domestic housing sector.
RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE HOME
Solar photovoltaics (commonly referred to as ‘PV’) turn daylight into free electricity. PVs can be installed on roofs or ground mounted and they operate completely differently from solar hot water collectors. The power from solar PVs cuts down on your electricity bills dramatically.
Many environmental groups are urging the Government to follow the practice in many other countries and ensure that homeowners who export surplus solar electricity to the grid are paid a fair price for it.
There are now many contractors installing PV – one such contractor is Energy Panel, Castleblayney. The company had a stand at the Business and Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last. PV panels are now appearing on many commercial premises and farm buildings. Kingspan have installed the largest solar PV panel roof in Ireland on their insulation factory in Castleblayney.
According to an SEAI report last week, Solar PV (photovoltaics) is set to become one of the most important and fastest growing energy technologies globally to help us meet climate change goals. Irish organisations could capture over €200 million annually of that market due to our research and industry strengths which can be deployed in the sector. The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2009 (which is good news for those who want to add them to their homes). In the same period, solar PV has become the fastest growing power generation technology worldwide. By 2030 the European solar PV market alone could be worth up to €10bn annually.
The showroom of Energy Panel with roof mounted PV panels. The local company had a stand at the Business & Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last. Energy Panel supplies and installs solar PV and other energy related products.
A range of renewable energy technologies are being installed by homeowners. These could be solar thermal panels, a small wind turbine, a biomass / pellet boiler or a heat pump. Air-to-water heat pumps are also becoming increasingly popular. If you’re interested, Eurotech Group is a local company that is a leading supplier and installer of air to water heat pumps for underfloor heating and / or domestic hot water.
EXISTING GRANTS FOR BASIC ENERGY UPGRADE
Existing SEAI grant schemes for basic energy efficiency improvements are still available to homeowners. The ‘Better Energy Homes’ scheme provides grants towards Roof Insulation, Wall Insulation, Installation of a High Efficiency Gas or Oil fired Boiler, Heating Control Upgrades and Solar panels. The ‘Warmer Homes Scheme’ aims to improve the energy efficiency and comfort conditions of homes occupied by vulnerable households in receipt of the National Fuel Allowance Scheme through the installation of draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation where appropriate.
Liam Murtagh of the Castleblayney Sustainable Energy Group gives Deirdre McGinn some information on energy efficiency grants at the Business & Community Exhibition in Castleblayney on Saturday last.
On the SEAI website (www.seai.ie) you will find a listing of BER Assessors and registered contractors for your area. In addition, there is information on energy efficiency / renewable energy options and details of SEAI grants. It is important to first get your BER completed and to get the Assessors professional advice on your next step.
The April noticeboard can be found here