Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

Minister for Energy, Alex White T.D., today announced a boost in the level of grants available to householders who want to undertake energy efficiency improvements. The cash value of every grant available to householders under the Better Energy Homes Scheme has been increased by between 25-50%. In addition, a bonus payment has been introduced which will see householders receive bonus payments if they complete three or more energy efficiency improvements.

The new grant levels are effective immediately and will apply to everyone who has applied for a grant that has not yet been paid. The previous minimum grant threshold of €400 has been abolished and a bonus payment of €300 for householders who undertake three efficiency measures has been introduced, with an additional bonus payment of €100 available to householders who undertake four measures. The bonus payments are available to new applicants and to householders who have already availed of the scheme who wish to undertake further upgrades.

Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

The changes in grant levels, effective from today

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to undertake energy efficiency measures such as insulating walls or attics and installing new heating systems. Since the scheme was launched in 2009 more than 165,000 homes have undertaken energy efficiency upgrades with a total Government investment of €172m.

Under the revised scheme, a family in a semi-detached house could benefit from a grant payment of up to €4700 for external wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade, and cavity and attic insulation. A couple in an apartment could receive €3400 towards internal wall insulation, a boiler and heating control upgrade and the installation of solar thermal heating.

Major Increase in Energy Efficiency Grants to Householders

Improve the Energy Efficiency of your home with Cavity Wall and Attic Insulation

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme (BEWH), administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, funds energy efficiency improvements in the homes of the elderly and vulnerable, making the homes more comfortable, healthier and more cost effective to run. The Better Energy Warmer Homes services are provided by a panel of SEAI appointed non-profit community based organisations (CBO’s) and a panel of SEAI appointed private contractors. The Installers are assigned to a household depending on their geographic location. CBO’s and contractors deliver the BEWH to the highest quality assurance standards. Inspections are carried out on a sample of homes completed to ensure the standards are maintained.

The scheme is available to non-Local Authority owner occupied homes constructed before 2006. The owner of the property has also to be in receipt of one of the following:

  • Fuel Allowance as part of the National Fuel Scheme
  • Job Seekers allowance for over six months and with children under 7 years of age
  • Family income support

The service involves the installation of standard energy efficiency measures appropriate to the eligible household subject to SEAI survey, budget allocation and available capacity. The service is provided at no cost to the household and the measures currently available under this scheme are:

  • Attic insulation.
  • Draught proofing.
  • Lagging jackets.
  • Low energy light bulbs.
  • Cavity wall insulation.
  • Energy advice.

Landlords can avail of grants from Better Energy Homes if they have tenants in, or at risk of, energy poverty.

The Better Energy Homes scheme provides assistance to homeowners to reduce energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions and improve the comfort levels within their home. It is a national scheme therefore all homeowners of dwelling built before 2006 may apply. Landlords and owners of multiple properties may also apply, however they must submit a separate application form for each property.  Grants are available for eligible applicants for under taking energy efficient  upgrades.

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Chooseday’s Choice! ~ Open Fire or Stove?

Where does YOUR energy go?

Many homes in Ireland still use an open fire-place. An open fire-place is hugely inefficient as the heated air within the room is sucked up the chimney and the burn rate of the fuel is difficult to control. Therefore much of the fuel and cost is wasted. Installing a solid fuel or preferably a log burning stove is a simple, quick and cheap way to reduce your heating bills and energy consumption.

You Choose!

Open Fire or Stove?

Open Fire or Stove?

Typically, more than 70% of the heat from an open fire goes up the chimney, while a stove retains as much as 76% of heat in the room, saving both fuel and money. Replacing an open fire with an efficient stove can reduce the household energy consumption by 8 to 10%. Given that we spend around €2,000 on heat, light and hot water, that could see a person’s fuel bill fall by €200 a year.

Better Energy Communities Pilot 2012 – Open for Applications

This is an exciting new pilot programme that SEAI is delighted to launch in order to stimulate the delivery of innovative energy efficiency projects in communities and other areas.

Energy efficiency

The Better Energy Programme is Ireland’s national upgrade programme to retrofit our building stock and facilities to high standards of energy efficiency, there by reducing fossil fuel use, running costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

The purpose of this call is to support and pilot innovative delivery approaches at a community level. With a fund of €3M, the pilot projects will test new approaches to achieving high quality and efficient delivery of improvements in energy efficiency within Irish communities.

This call, in supporting pilot projects at a community level, is specifically seeking to test innovative and pioneering partnerships for delivery between for example, the public and private sectors, domestic and non-domestic sectors, commercial and not-for-profit organisations. Other solutions to delivering energy savings within a community that leverage existing resources are also invited.

The call is open to

  • Participating Energy Suppliers
  • Public sector, including local authorities
  • Community-based organisations (CBOs) that have an established service for delivering the required measures; or other community type organisations.
  • Private sector
  • Voluntary organisations

A grant application can also be made by a nominated project co-ordinator, such co-ordination may be by an energy supply company or their designated delivery partner acting in partial fulfilment of its energy saving target.

Individual organisations and co-ordinators are permitted to submit several different applications for support but projects should be bundled where appropriate.

Eligible ptojects

The call is open to projects and related initiatives in the community spanning multiple sectors and focusing on energy efficiency in buildings, business, facilities and transport sectors, and allowing for additional installation of integrated renewable energy technologies and infrastructure.

Eligible Measures.

Eligible measures will prioritise energy efficiency retrofits and can include elements of renewable energy where appropriate. Measures proposed should demonstrate how they will deliver the Community concept in the wider community, social and policy structures.

Level of support available

A fund of €3m is available for allocation to projects on a competitive basis, for investment actions comprising individual or packaged measures, aimed at achieving on-going and lasting energy savings.

Grant support is available for qualifying projects and the level of funding will be related to the innovation in terms of delivery, technology and energy savings proposed under the project. Funding will be allocated based on an assessment of each individual project application, considered against the evaluation criteria outlined and taking account of other sources of funding leveraged.

Eligible costs

The eligible costs are the direct costs incurred in the delivery of the project.

  • Purchase of plant, machinery or equipment in the product/ technology categories listed on the ‘Triple E’ register
  • VAT associated if it is not reclaimable

Non Eligible Costs

  •  Any costs not directly related to improving sustainable energy performance through the proposed project
  • Ongoing monitoring costs
  • Internal staff costs
  • Any costs to bring process or facilities up to standards required
  • Any costs that are incurred prior to formal grant approval – no matter what they relate to – are ineligible and will not be paid.


For further information see the following links:

Better Energy Communities – 2012 Application Guide.pdf (size 280 KB)

Better Energy Communities Pilot Application Form.pdf (size 166.4 KB)

Or alternatively if you have a project in mind which you think might be suitable please contact Paula Butler who is the  main contact person in SEAI and can be contacted at or 01 8082094.

Closing date for applications is 14th September 2012.

Dreaming of a Green, Green Christmas.

Christmas is a time of the year when lots of waste is generated and our energy consumption overall is greatly increased. It is a time for celebrations and with a little thought and imagination we can help reduce the environmental impact of the festive season.

Here are some Green Christmas tips that’ll help you to save money, reduce your Christmas carbon footprint and won’t cost the Earth!

Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made mostly of plastic and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.

Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution.

Go to your local council’s website after Christmas for details on tree recycling and collection.

Visit your local garden centre and buy a live Irish grown tree in a large pot. This will allow you to reuse the tree for a few years without having to plant or re-pot the tree. If you have a spacious garden the tree can be planted out after Christmas where it can be enjoyed for many years and also help the environment.

LED Fairy Lights

We all like to decorate our Christmas trees and the exterior of the house with hundreds of those little twinkling lights and you don’t have to stop doing that to go green. However, you do need to replace those traditional Christmas lights from years past with the newest kid on the block – LED (light emitting diode) Christmas lights.

They use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent Christmas lights. Beyond the decrease in energy usage, these LED lights produce very little heat which significantly reduces the risk of fire and they last about 10 times longer than traditional lights (about 200,000 hours).

Look for locally made gifts – many gifts today come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation, the raw materials, manufacturing ethics, use of toxic chemicals etc contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local markets, craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation.

Local markets and Artisan Food Shops

Choose gifts made from recycled sources – many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials.

Why not consider the gift of a tree for someone special this Christmas.  Planting a tree can be a very touching gift as it will last a lifetime.  Trees are also very beneficial for the environment and help set off our carbon footprint.

Alternatively you may know someone who would like to start growing their own vegetables but just don’t know where to start.  By growing vegetables in your own back yard, you directly reduce the demand for produce shipped from remote locations and thereby, reduce your own carbon footprint. So, whether they have a sunny windowsill, a small back garden or a few acres why not contact Greenside Up in Carlow and Aisling Designs in Wexford who, with their expertise  can point them in the right direction to realise their dream.

Just imagine going out into your own garden on Christmas morning to harvest your own organically grown vegetables that ‘taste’ like vegetables should!

Eco friendly gift wrapping

Remember to wrap your gifts in an eco-friendly way and try to avoid using foil or plastic wrapping, plastic ribbons and sellotape. Try wrapping your presents in brown or recycled paper,  recycled foil or newspaper, and using string or raffia (made from bark which regenerates) to tie it up.  Better still find inspiration from things lying around the house and get creative. Wrap presents with old maps, calendars, the comics section of newspaper, or children’s artwork. Once you start looking at material as potential gift wrapping aids, the possibilities are endless.

‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly…..’

Candles add a lovely festive touch to the home. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are not good for your health or for the environment. Only buy candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax are more eco-friendly because they biodegrade and are smoke-free.

‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly…’ Take a look around the garden and countryside and you will discover an abundance of natural materials to decotate your home.   Evergreens, berries, fruit, twigs, pine cones, holly, mistletoe, bark, and moss can all be used to create an amazing festive feel throughout your home.  Mantle pieces, door wreaths, centre pieces, swags, the list is endless, the list is endless and remember it won’t have cost the Earth!

Happy Christmas from Ferns

Sending Christmas cards to friends, family, neighbours and co-workers is a tradition in most Irish families. This year, try to buy cards that have been made from recycled paper or from sustainable forests or better still send an e-card where possible. The amount of cards sent every year places a huge demand on natural resources not to mention the transport emissions from moving these cards through the post!

Making homemade cards is a fun activity for the family. They may not be as professional as shop bought cards, but they are more personal and just as appreciated.

Instead of throwing the cards that you have received in the bin at the end of the season, recycle them or better still cut them up to make gift tags for next year’s presents.

Finally, buy cards from a charity that uses the funds to make a difference. Charity cards bought in major retailers do not raise a lot of cash for the charities whose names are on them. As little as 10 per cent of the sale price of some cards actually goes to the cause. If a card is bought directly from the charity, closer to 80 per cent of the total price goes to the charity.


New Sustainable Energy Communities Commit to Energy Saving Projects

Three Local Irish Authorities to take lead in testing new technologies and policies to stimulate national move towards sustainable energy practice.

Professor J Owen Lewis, chief executive, SEAI; Dick Gleeson, planner, Dublin City Council; Tim McSwiney, senior executive engineer, Tralee Town Council; and Gerry Wardell, director CODEMA, Dublin City Council

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) today announced Tralee, Dublin City and Tallaght as the three new exemplar Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC), all of whom will commit to specific energy saving projects for the next five years. The communities were selected from 14 local authorities for having a visionary co-ordinated approach to energy savings and integrating sustainable energy into community planning and development. The selection of the three SECs follows a competitive selection process and builds on the success of Ireland’s pilot SEC, Dundalk 2020.

SEAI’s Sustainable Energy Communities Programme aims to develop a series of Irish communities as ‘living laboratories’ to establish a culture of innovation and facilitate the emergence of new sustainable energy technologies and practices that grow energy smart towns and cities. SECs involve everyone in the community, across all sectors, working together to enhance sustainability by being as energy efficient as possible, using renewable energy where feasible and developing indigenous energy supplies. The programme acts as a catalyst on the ground to help stimulate a national move towards sustainable energy practice and to deliver national energy targets.

Dundalk 2020 was established as Ireland’s first SEC in 2007. Work to date has involved the installation of energy efficient technologies in a wide range of buildings as well as implementing energy efficient behavioural change. The project has led to savings of more than 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, while organisations together are saving in excess of €500,000 per annum.

Speaking at the announcement of the winning SECs, Professor J. Owen Lewis, Chief Executive of SEAI said: “The standard of the proposals we received was excellent. Tralee, Dublin City and Tallaght will, with the support of SEAI, champion the testing and deployment of new sustainable energy technologies and practices in their communities, involving people across all sectors. The aim of the Sustainable Energy Communities Programme is to replicate best practice throughout the country and we will be helping other local authorities to improve the link between sustainable energy, economic development and planning, making significant energy savings in the process.”

SEAI will partner with the communities for five years, providing them with strategic guidance, as well as technical and project management support. As part of the programme, SEAI also set up an SEC Network to facilitate best practice and knowledge sharing among all local authorities that are progressing in sustainability.

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Source: Media Release ~ Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.