A home energy saving loan that allows people to improve the energy rating of their home, has been launched by the Solution Centre.

Solution Centre is a collaboration of credit unions that supply product development and business supports to Ireland’s Credit Union sector.

The scheme is a partnership between credit unions and Retrofit Energy Ireland Ltd with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

It makes it easier to access SEAI grant funding of 35% towards the cost of approved energy upgrades to an applicant’s home, with low cost finance for the balance of the costs being provided by participating credit unions.

"If we want homeowners to be persuaded to significantly improve the energy efficiency of their homes, we need to make it easy for them to do so," said Cathal Tyther, Manager of the Solution Centre, and to help them overcome the challenges that are currently putting people off." 

REIL take on the role of programme co-ordinators and are responsible for the procurement and completion of all works, while SEAI is providing a 35% grant for work completed and the rest of the funding can be received from the participating Credit Union at a discounted rate. 

Based on the pilot study, participants are typically expected to borrow between €7,000 and €10,000 and spend between €10,000 and €15,000 on their homes.

Paddy Sweeney of REIL said the initiative has taken the leg-work away from the homeowner. "All they need to do is fill out an application form, after which REIL will conduct an assessment on their property and present them with a report. They can then decide whether or not they would like to proceed. Absolutely no money changes hands until all improvements have been made.

"From beginning to end, the input required by the home owner is minimal," he explained. "The way this Scheme is structured, there is easy access to grant funding which will significantly reduce the cost (by 35%), while the repayments on the Credit Union loan funding the balance of the costs of works can typically be expected to be largely offset by the reduced energy cost in the majority of cases. The payback periods can be relatively short, particularly for items such as cavity wall insulation, boiler controls and replacing an open fire with a solid fuel stove. This means many people funding this with a credit union loan over 5-7 years could be turning a profit within 5 years as well as having a cosier house from the get-go."
 
The scheme will initially be piloted across 6 large credit unions with a membership of over 200,000 at promotional interest rates of 6.99% or less. It is expected to be rolled-out to many more credit unions in 2019.