Home energy scheme 'saves €450 on bills'
HOUSEHOLDERS who took state grants to make their homes warmer saved an average of €450 a year on energy bills, new research shows.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) yesterday said that more than 100,000 homes had upgraded their heating systems and installed insulation since 2008, and it was receiving 1,200 applications a week from people keen to make improvements.
An analysis of the Home Energy Scheme found that €170m had been invested in upgrading properties, or retro-fitting, in the last three years.
Under the scheme, householders can avail of grant aid to assist them with installing insulation and upgrading home heating systems.
The SEAI analysis found that for every €1 it spent on the scheme, the economy benefits to the tune of €5 through energy savings and lower amounts of carbon dioxide being produced.
The analysis also showed that investments in home energy upgrades would be fully repaid through energy savings within eight years.
"This analysis clearly shows that Ireland is now realising the benefits of sustainable energy," SEAI chief operations officer Dr Brian Motherway said.
"Not only are we seeing at first hand the savings to households and society generally, sustainable energy is supporting jobs right throughout the country."
But while 100,000 homes have been upgraded, the SEAI said that 10 times more needed to be done to bring Irish properties up to energy-efficient standards.
However, it added: "This is an opportunity which presents significant jobs potential and economic savings to Irish society."
Grants range from €200 for roof insulation to €4,000 for external wall insulation, up to a maximum of €5,560 per home.
The scheme has operated since 2008 and SEAI has allocated grants totalling €62.8m since then. The private sector has spent another €108m, bringing the total spend on retro-fitting to €171.5m. Some 3,000 people are employed in the sector.
The current scheme ends in 2014 and is expected to be replaced by a new "pay as you save" scheme.