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Thursday 19 September 2019

Shock figures show 100,000 homes have worst energy rating

  

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Stock picture

Caroline O'Doherty

The number of homes across the country with the poorest possible energy ratings has increased, with more than 100,000 now rated F or G.

That is 6,000 more than were known about a year ago, with more than half the country's two million homes yet to receive a BER (building energy rating) audit.

Homes rated F or G are typically at least 40 years old, have only single-glazed windows, little or no insulation in walls, attics or internal fittings, outdated fossil fuel heating systems or no central heating at all.

The scale of the task involved in making them energy efficient was highlighted recently when the grant scheme for deep retrofit of such properties ran out of money after only 350 houses were approved for assistance.

The figures are revealed in the Central Statistics Office's annual Environmental Indicators report, which measures Ireland's environmental performance under 65 headings, comparing many of them with our EU neighbours.

Many of the comparisons are unfavourable. Every person in Ireland produces 13.3 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year, making our per capita emissions the third highest in the EU.

Forest coverage is the second lowest in the EU, we have fewer wilderness areas protected by law than most other countries and we have the second lowest proportion of organically farmed land.

Fertiliser sales are among the highest here, with 107.6 tonnes per 1,000 hectares of agricultural land. Portugal, the lowest in the EU, has only 30 tonnes while Belgium and Luxembourg combined have the highest at 176.4 tonnes.

While bathing and drinking water quality has generally improved in recent years, the proportion of unpolluted river water fell from 77.3pc in 1987 to 68.9pc in 2015.

Air pollution is also a problem with emissions of nitrogen oxide, associated with high traffic levels, smog and acid rain, running at 70pc above our agreed limit - the worst in the EU. Ireland also ranked worst for a group of organic chemical pollutants known as NMVOCs, and we are seventh worst for ammonia emissions, 2pc above agreed limits.

Temperature and rainfall averages have been tracked by the CSO for decades and this year's report shows a clear change in climate in Ireland over the past 25 years. While rainfall varied annually, there were several years when volumes hit 1,500mm since the mid-1990s and none in the 50 years before that.

Similarly, Ireland's average temperature exceeded 10C in 1995 and has done so on numerous occasions since but there are no records of it doing so in the 35 years up to then.

A more positive indicator is the 30.1pc of electricity produced here from renewable sources.

Irish Independent

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