Your Questions: What are my options for making my home more energy efficient?
Q: I want to make my home more energy efficient. We are going to get the attic insulated and upgrade the older windows we have at the back of our house. I believe there's a Government grant available, but my neighbour said the credit union also has some lending scheme for members. Any information you could provide would be great.
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A: Last month 25 credit unions country launched ProEnergy Homes which offers a one-stop-shop for someone like you looking to make energy improvements to their home.
The package includes a 35pc grant on qualifying works from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), according to the manager of the Solution Centre Cathal Tyther. There is a low-rate credit union loan to finance the balance together with a free, independent project manager. The Solution Centre is a hothouse unit developing specialist products and solutions to enable credit unions to grow their business.
Getting the loan is a straightforward process, Mr Tyther said. You fill in an expression of interest (EOI) form online or in any participating credit union. This is sent to Retrofit Energy Ireland Limited (REIL) which provides project management to the scheme and arranges a free home energy survey. Once the survey is complete, you will be issued with a report detailing all possible works together with the costs and expected benefits. If you decide to go ahead the credit union will process your loan application, while REIL will help you complete the grant paperwork. It will also arrange procurement of contractors and tradespeople and will oversee the completion of all works.
Q: I am shopping around for van insurance, and while I would like to go fully comprehensive on my cover, the quotes I got have been steep. Up to now I've been alright with third party insurance. Is it worth paying extra for comprehensive cover?
A: Third-party fire and theft, or TPFT cover, is a more common type of policy as it is a step above the minimum legal requirement of third party only.
And TPFT is less expensive, generally speaking, than comprehensive cover, according to Shauna Fogarty of InsureMyVan.ie. Being covered for TPFT has some added protection over third party only. In addition to covering damage to any third party involved in an incident, your vehicle is also covered if it is damaged by fire or falls prey to theft or attempted theft.
Comprehensive cover is the highest form of cover you can get, covering you and your vehicle, as well as other road users. A fully comprehensive policy can cover fire damage, theft, damage by vandalism and accidental damage. The depth of cover varies with insurers.
Crucially, it covers in the event of a claim whether the claim is the driver's own fault, a third party's fault, or in cases where the fault of damage can't be proven, Ms Fogarty added.
Q: My nine-year-old daughter has cystic fibrosis and for the last 10 years I have stayed at home to look after her and our other son, while my husband worked full-time. I recently decided to go back to work on a part-time basis. As my husband currently claims incapacitated child tax credit for our daughter, I wonder is there any additional relief I can get?
A: There are a number of tax reliefs designed to ease the financial burden of caring for children with health needs in the home.
The incapacitated child tax credit is currently worth €3,300, according to the commercial director of Taxback.com Eileen Devereux. This means a credit of €3,300 is added to your tax credit cert. It seems that this is the tax relief your husband is currently availing of.
If one parent cares for the child, they would be entitled to claim the full amount. However, this credit can be divided between you both in proportion to the amount you each pay towards the costs of care.
Another tax credit you could avail of is the home carer tax credit, worth €1,200 in 2018. Married couples (who are jointly assessed for tax) can qualify for this provided one spouse works in the home caring for a dependent person, Ms Devereux added. You can claim it back over a period of four years, if you have not claimed it before.
As the home carer, your own income must have been under €7,200, with reduced credit available if your income stood between €7,200 and €9,600.
Both the incapacitated child tax credit and the home carer credit can be claimed in conjunction with one another provided you meet the conditions for both.
Last month 25 credit unions launched ProEnergy Homes which offers a one-stop-shop for those who want to make energy improvements to their homes
There are a number of tax reliefs designed to ease the financial burden of caring for children with health needs in the home.