A scheme to help homeowners make their houses more energy efficient starts taking applications today.

Homeowners will be able to apply for grants towards improving insulation and upgrading central heating systems.

The Government has said the home energy saving scheme should create thousands of jobs and cut electricity and heating bills for homeowners.

It has set aside €50m for the scheme.

Applications can be made through Sustainable Energy Ireland, which has already received 94,000 inquiries through phone calls and visits to its website.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan says he has been assured that all applications will be processed in less than three days.

He said more qualified contractors will be needed to carry out the upgrading work and urged contractors to register with Sustainable Energy Ireland to secure work for themselves and their employees through the scheme.