HOME ENERGY UPGRADES

One of the greatest challenges facing Irish households today is how to effectively heat their homes at a reasonable cost. Older Irish households are generally inefficient in this regard, with lots of heat being lost to the environment due to poor insulation and other factors. Low efficiency means that more energy is required to heat your home or business which equates to higher carbon emissions. Because of this, grants are available to improve the energy efficiency of your home or business. This is done through insulation and a process known as deep retrofitting.

Insulation and Grants

Grants are available for various insulation types in your home. Houses can lose between 20-30% of heat through its walls and so a well insulated building can  prevent this. Insulation can encourage dampness and mould due to its absorbent nature, therefore it is vital to use an experienced installer to eliminate any potential difficulties. Grant amounts and types of accepted insulation are included below.

2006?

Grants are available for various insulation types in your home, ONLY if it was built and occupied before 2006. Occupation is defined as the day your electricity meter was installed. Homes built from 2006 onwards should have been constructed to the 2003 Building Regulations and should not need significant upgrades.

Electric Ireland Grant

Electric Ireland also offers grants for customer's home energy upgrades through the Energy Efficiency Incentive Scheme.  Electric Ireland provides electricity and gas energy services. These grants are available to new and existing customers in the form of credit added to your account.

The installation of insulation in your home is a good way to reduce your CO2 emissions. Emissions from the built environment accounts for approximately 13% of CO2 emissions in Ireland. Ireland's building emissions per head of 1.6 t CO2 eq is higher than most European countries, emitting over 58% of CO2 eq more than the EU average. Under the Climate Action Plan, the built environment must see reductions of 40-45% in CO2 emissions. This will be done by retrofitting homes so that there exists around 500'000 homes with a B2 energy rating or higher and through the installation of more sustainable heat sources.

The exact amount of CO2 emissions saved through the installation of insulation depends on each home and their method of heating as well as the type of insulation.  It's clear however that insulation is one of the primary methods to reduce built environment CO2 emissions, and will be an integral component of Ireland's emissions reduction targets in the coming years.

CO2 Savings

Deep Retrofit Scheme  CLOSED

Deep retrofits are an all encompassing home energy upgrade which will achieve an A-  BER energy rating in your home. Upgrades often include insulation, window upgrades, installation of new heating methods such as heat pumps and also the installation of renewable energy systems. Currently the deep retrofit scheme is closed, but there are plans to reopen it. The scheme had to close due to a lack of funds, as there were too many applicants.

The government plans to retrofit homes so that up to 500'000 homes have a B2 BER rating by 2030. These are commitments under the Climate Action Plan. A huge increase in funding will be required in order to provide the required grants to upgrade Ireland's residences. Grian will include updated information when the scheme reopens.

 
 

ATTIC INSULATION

Generally the cheapest form of home insulation and is usually present in every home. The majority of heat in a house escapes through the ceiling and roof and so effective attic insulation is a must to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Even if you currently have attic insulation it should be upgraded to today's standard. A home can lose anywhere between 20-30% of heat through a poorly insulated roof.

Attic and rafter insulation are the two choices for insulating the space within your attic. Rafter insulation is commonly required when your attic is used as a living space, in order to retain heat in the room.

GRANT REQUIREMENTS

In order for attic insulation to qualify for the SEAI grant it must achieve the minimum required U-values of 0.16 W/m2 K for ceiling level insulation or 0.20 W/m2 K for rafter insulation. It is up to you to ensure with the installer that the minimum required U values are met.

MATERIALS USED

Some materials used for attic insulation are fibreglass, rigid foam, rockwool, sheep's wool, hemp and eco insulation. Each material has its own benefits and varying costs. Fibreglass is the most common insulating material while sheepswool is considered a more expensive option.

CAN I INSTALL IT MYSELF?

Attic insulation can usually be installed without the use of a contractor BUT in order to avail of the SEAI grant, if you wish to do so, you must use a registered SEAI contractor. 

WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND SAVINGS?

The cost obviously varies with every property and choice of material. The SEAI qoutes a cost of 700-1000 euros for fibreglass attic insulation of a 150 m2 (1615 ft 2) detached home. Prices are often lower for bungalows, semi-detached and the lowest for mid-terrace houses. This above scenario resulted in savings of 250 euros per year.

The only way to obtain an accurate quote is to contact an installer and provide them with information on your property as well as desired insulation material.

SEAI Grant:

400 

WHATS A U-VALUE?

The U-value is the most accurate metric used to determine the effectiveness of an insulating material by measuring the amount of heat that passes through it. A good insulator will have a low U-value as most of the heat will be trapped by the insulator.

An uninsulated cavity wall has a U-value of approximately 1.6 W/m2 K, while a solid wall has a U-value of approximately 2 W/m2K.

Apartment: 64

House: 104

Electric Ireland Grant:

CAVITY WALL INSULATION

This is where an insulating foam is injected into the cavities/holes within the blocks used to construct your home. Cavities within solid blocks can result in a substantial loss of heat from your home, about 35%.

 

Injection usually takes place from the outside with insulation being pumped through the cavities around your home. This method of insulation can only be carried out with hollow blocks.

GRANT REQUIREMENTS

Cavity wall insulation must have a U-value of 0.27 W/m2 K to qualify for the SEAI grant. It is up to you to ensure with the installer that the minimum requirements are met.

MATERIALS USED

All materials used by contractors must be NSAI Agrement certified. This ensures that the materials will function as effective insulators. All SEAI registered contractors will adhere to this and so it should not be an issue.

Mineral wool is the most commonly used material. It can be blown in tufts into the cavities but has been known to settle which can result in gaps at the tops of cavity blocks. Beads can also be used which fill up the cavities with minimal gaps. These beads can cause issues however if there are any unknown holes into the cavities. Foam is the best insulating material but is more difficult to install effectively. Only use experienced installers for this.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND SAVINGS?

An SEAI scenario details the cost of insulating a 150 m2 four bedroom detached  house with polystyrene beads to be in the range of 700-1000 euros, excluding the grant. This resulted in savings of over 300 euros per year off the heating bill which was previously 1600 euros.

Reports on the savings and effectiveness of cavity wall insulation seem to vary, which are often as a result of 'cowboy' contractors attempting to cash in on interest generated through government grants. Major concerns often arise from dampness as a result of moisture entering the cavities and being absorbed by the insulation. As with any energy savings insulation, it is  crucial to employ a contractor who can be trusted to deliver the savings to your home and the environment.

SEAI Grant:

400 

 

Apartment: 164

House: 260

Electric Ireland Grant:

INTERNAL INSULATION (DRY LINING)

A composite insulation board is applied to the inside of external walls. The board is typically made up of insulation, plasterboard and a vapour barrier.

Plaster is removed from the existing wall to bring the wall back to the blockwork and a chosen thickness insulation board is applied to the wall. This means that you will lose space in the interior of your home and indoor fixings such as kitchens will have to be temporarily removed in order to apply the insulation material.

Another concern with internal insulation is the issue of vapour produced inside the house. Due to the insulation and vapour layer, water vapour will not disperse into the walls. If there is even the slightest gap in seals then the vapour will naturally concentrate around this area and result in the growth of mould. Deterioration of external walls has also been recorded during cold weather as they are not benefitting from the heat produced by your home. Ensure your external walls are completely weatherproof to prevent this.

More expensive IWI systems seem to correct these issues as they allow the wall to 'breathe', ensuring the free movement of moisture without compromising on insulating performance. It is advised to voice these concerns with contractors before committing to internal wall insulation.

GRANT REQUIREMENTS

Internal wall insulation must have a U-value of 0.27 W/m2 K to qualify for the SEAI grant. It is up to you to ensure with the installer that the minimum requirements are met.

MATERIALS USED

All materials used by contractors must be NSAI Agrement certified. This ensures that the materials will function as effective insulators. All SEAI registered contractors will adhere to this and so it should not be an issue.

Common insulating materials are rigid foam and mineral wool. More expensive materials such as calcium silicate are also used. As regards to finishing layers, gypsum plaster is not recommended as it is known to degrade when exposed to excessive moisture. Lime plaster is a more suitable albeit more expensive substitute.

SEAI Grant:

Apartment or Mid-terrace House: 1600

Semi-detached or End-terrace: 2200

Detached: 2400

 

Apartment: 256

House: 400

Electric Ireland Grant:

WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND SAVINGS?

Internal wall insulation is known as a cheaper yet potentially more problematic alternative to external wall insulation. A price qouted by a contractor for a standard three bedroom semi-detached house is 7000 euros excluding grants.

Internal wall insulation can result in savings of up to 30% off your annual heating bill.

EXTERNAL WALL INSULATION (THE WRAP)

External wall insulation is considered the best way to insulate your home, offering the greatest protection from heat loss. It consists of a layer of insulating material which is applied to the external facade of your home, resulting in no loss to indoor space. This insulating material is then covered with a weatherproof layer to protect the insulating layer against the elements. A steel or fibreglass mesh is included in this layer to provide structural support.

It's possible that the existing surface would be unable to support external insulation, e.g. because of cracks in mortar etc. In cases like this the existing surface would have to be removed back to the brickwork or blockwork, which is both time consuming and costly.

Any external attachments such as satellite dished and piping would have to be removed before installing the insulation. Windowsills may have to be extended due to the new width of the external wall.

As with any insulation upgrade, it's crucial to use an experienced installer as any mistakes in the installation could result in lasting difficulties with moisture entering the insulation.

GRANT REQUIREMENTS

Internal wall insulation must have a U-value of 0.27 W/m2 K to qualify for the SEAI grant. It is up to you to ensure with the installer that the minimum requirements are met.

MATERIALS USED

All materials used by contractors must be NSAI Agrement certified. This ensures that the materials will function as effective insulators. All SEAI registered contractors will adhere to this and so it should not be an issue.

Common insulating materials are rigid foam and mineral wool. 

WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND SAVINGS?

External wall insulation is the most expensive insulation option. Prices are approximately 125 euros per square metre. Total cost depends on the type of house, with terraced houses being the cheapest to insulate while detached houses are the most expensive. Costs may be easily above 20000 for a larger detached house, excluding the grant.

Due to the high cost of external insulation there is a long payback period, although you are likely to see the most savings off your annual heating bill by installing external insulation.

Apartment or Mid-terrace House: 2750

Semi-detached or End-terrace: 4500

Detached: 6000

SEAI Grant:

 

Apartment: 300

House: 472

Electric Ireland Grant:

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