You can save thousands if you insulate properly. Tina Leonard tells Pat Kenny what grants for homeowners and landlords are available

With the winter upon us and gas and electricity bills on the up, we are looking for ways to cut out bills.

RTE's consumer expert Tina Leonard has already looked at what you might save if you switch provider and we all now that we can also save if we insulate our homes better, particulary the attic, the walls and the window and door surrounds.

Some of this work can be expensive.

Here Tina tells Today with Pat Kenny what grants are available.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their home. It has replaced the Home Energy Saving Scheme since May this year.

Landlords and owners of more than one property can also apply for a grant under the scheme. It is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The same type of work is eligible for a grant as under the previous scheme but grant levels have been reduced by 20% with the exception of external wall insulation.


*All average cost figures supplied by SEAI. Average savings of 20% to 30% in all categories according to SEAI.

  • Attic insulation: €200.
    Average cost of work for four-bed house: €600 - €1,000 for 300mm fiberglass insulation.
  • Wall insulation – cavity: €320.
    Average cost for four-bed family house: €700 - €1,000
  • Wall insulation – external: €4,000.
    Average cost for four-bed house: €10,000 to €20,000
  • Wall insulation – internal dry lining: €3,000.
    Average cost for four-bed house: €7,000 - €10,000 for internal insulation (solid masonry or hollow block walls).
  • High efficiency oil/gas boiler with control upgrades: €560.
    Average cost for four-bed house: up to €3,900 for high efficiency condensing boiler with 92% efficiency.
  • Heating controls upgrade only: €400.
    Average cost for four-bed house: €800 - €1,000 (7 day programmer with room and cylinder thermostats and a motorised control valve – heating and hot water controls separate).
  • Solar heating: €800.  Average cost for four-bed house: €800 to €1,300 per m2 of panel area (typical average cost for ¾ bed semi €3,900). Can provide 50% - 60% of hot water requirements. Solar heating grants were previously available under the Greener Homes Scheme, which closed in May this year.

Building Energy Rating (BER): €80

You must undertake a BER on your home once grant aided work has been completed, so this grant will be applied automatically to your application unless you have received it before. Some people may wish to get a BER both before and after work is carried out, but the BER grant will only be given once.

In addition, the Finance Act 2011 proposes a new scheme of tax relief for energy-efficiency works. However, this is not yet in force.

How to apply

Identify needs

  • You can use a tool called the Home Energy Self Survey on the SEAI website to identify areas in your home, which could be improved in terms of energy efficiency.
  • You could get a BER done to energy rate your home and get a report that helps identify areas for improvement.

Assessing eligibility

  • Your house must have been built before 2006.
  • With your first application the grant amount must be a minimum of €400. This means you may have to apply for more than one grant. The grant for a BER cannot be included in the €400 amount.
  • You may not get a grant if you want to replace your boiler but not the heating controls of if the new boiler has less than 90% efficiency.

The application process

You must use a contractor/installer from the SEAI’s registered list, which is available on their website, where you can search under category of work and geographic location. This does not mean that their work is approved by the SEAI, but that they comply with a Code of Practice, have relevant insurance and up-to-date tax clearance. The SEAI can inspect work also. You can also search for SEAI registered tradesmen on a site such as if you prefer that route.

If you submit your application online you will receive a decision in 3 days; if you submit your application by post it will take 20 days for approval to be given.

You cannot start work or buy materials before grant approval is given. If you have you will not be eligible for a grant.

After work is completed you must submit all receipts to SEAI; you must have already paid the contractor.

You also have to get a BER carried out after the work is done and it must be carried out by a BER assessor who is listed on the SEAI’s national register.

The grant money will then be paid directly to your bank account, details of which you will have provided in your application form.

Things to consider:

Firstly, you need plenty of cash flow up front and secondly, for higher cost work, the payback will take years.

In addition some contractors say that for some work, you may be better off not applying for a grant. I spoke to a SEAI registered energy efficient boiler installer who says that as you have to get all the control upgrades under the grant scheme, some of which, he believes are unnecessary, it will add to the cost. (Controls include TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves), 7-day programmable controls, boiler interlock to connect to heating system and hot water cylinder heater controls.) He said that of his customers only 30% apply for the grant, as they can get a boiler installed more cheaply outside of the grant scheme requirements, if they opt for less controls and perhaps opt for a cheaper boiler system.

Another contractor I spoke to felt that getting a grant for attic insulation was un-necessary as anyone with basic DIY skills can do it themselves. His advice is to buy the material yourself when on sale, which happens regularly at the big DIY stores (average €200) and lay it yourself.

Warmer Homes Scheme

This is a different type of grant scheme operated by SEAI that has been running since 2000 and is specifically targeted at low-income households. You don’t apply for a grant but instead grants to improve energy efficiency in your home are given to and managed by your local community group on your behalf. Over 80,000 homes will have benefited from this scheme by the end of 2011.

Eligible work:

  •  Attic insulation
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Draught proofing windows and doors
  • Hot water cylinder insulation
  • Low energy light bulbs

How the scheme works

The SEAI liaises with certain listed community / voluntary groups around the country. Each group identifies households in their area where energy efficient work would be beneficial; submits a grant application on behalf of the householder; hires the contractors and handles all payment.

There is no list of community organisations that are members of this scheme on the SEAI website. In addition some parts of the country are not yet covered by the scheme but the SEAI says that more community groups are being added to the scheme each year.

If you think you fit this category and don’t know whether an organisation in your area is a member, you’ll have to call 1800 250204 (freephone).

Things to consider:

Some parts of the country are not yet covered under this scheme; cavity wall insulation grant available in some regions only; there are currently waiting times of up to six months, due to increased demand, so you won’t be able to get any work done under this scheme in time for winter.

For further information:

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland