The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications said he believes there is huge public interest in the Government retrofitting plan and the SEAI website was "overwhelmed" with public interest last night.

Eamon Ryan said retrofitting can improve a home, and having a warm home that is inexpensive to keep warm provides health and financial benefits.

Mr Ryan said around 1.5 million homes need to be improved and the aim is to upgrade around half a million homes a decade.

He pointed out that housing stock changed in the early 70s when central heating was installed.

This is a similar scheme, he said, that will provide better heating systems to houses.

He said the State will help fund this change under the retrofitting plan.

The Green Party leader said the Government is creating a one-stop-shop system that will make it easier for people to have their homes assessed, engage contractors and arrange grants.

Eamon Ryan said he believes around 20 companies will be engaged in this process.

At the end of the process, registered assessors will determine the energy rating of the home. This is transformative for people, he said.

Mr Ryan said the construction industry wants certainty and has said it is ready to meet increased demand that the retrofitting scheme will bring.

He estimated that around 75,000 houses will be retrofitted in this decade.

He added it is vital that those in social housing or who receive a fuel allowance are not left behind, and they will receive a 100% grant.

Eamon Ryan said the work can be done, by and large, in a way that does not require someone to leave home.

He said it is vital that social housing is upgraded and local authorities must manage this.

He added that there are currently around 7,000 homes that are waiting for the work to be carried out under the warmer home scheme and estimated this will rise from around 170 a month to 400 a month.

He said that landlords have been told they too must upgrade properties and they have been given plenty of advance notice so that work on homes would not result in fewer properties available to rent.

Mr Ryan said a landlord cannot use the upgrade work as an excuse to evict a tenant.

Grants will be significant - SEAI

Director of national retrofit at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Ciaran Byrne has said the new retrofitting grants will be a significant amount for people to upgrade their homes.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said around 17,500 workers will be needed to carry out the retrofitting that is envisaged as part of the Government's plan.

The SEAI will monitor costs in the schemes and in the market and competitiveness will help offset the possibility of rising costs, he said.

Yesterday's announcement about grants was really about "increasing the absolute ambition and scale of what we're trying to do".

The SEAI already has existing contractors and the announcement will provide the policy and financial certainty for them to expand at a significant pace, according to Mr Byrne.

He said the Department of Higher Education has provided €22m funding for the Green Skills Action Program, which will create an extra 4,550 places in apprenticeships.

What has been seen previously under schemes where you put policies and funding in place is that contractors migrate into the market, he said.

Incentives for workers needed

Patricia Power, Chartered Quantity Surveyor, says she is very impressed with the level of Government grants being made available for retrofitting and the "one-stop-shop" element of the scheme.

However she said that she believes incentives will need to be put in place in order to encourage people to come to Ireland to assist with the anticipated demand for the work over the next few years.

She told Morning Ireland that the Government scheme is "a very big step" when compared to the level of grants that have been previously available.

Ms Power acknowledged that grants will still not meet the full costs and homeowners will have to find the balance.

However the proposed low interest loans should assist in that area, she said.

Although it is a lot of money to spend, she said, she believes it is worth it and people are not willing to live in cold, draughty houses anymore.

"You don't see it, but you feel it."

Ms Power said that living in a cold house is not good for people's mental or physical health.