The Head of Social Justice and Policy at St Vincent de Paul has told an Oireachtas committee that the organisation is concerned about the impact carbon tax increases would have on low income households.

Dr Tricia Keilthy told the Joint Committee on Climate Action that last year SVP spent more than €4m on fuel and utilities for energy poor households.

She said the organisation is concerned that energy "unaffordability" persists without any increases in carbon taxes.

Dr Keilthy said current schemes for addressing energy poverty are limited and many people continue to experience energy poverty.

She told the committee that steps need to be taken to tackle energy poverty including increased investment in the retrofit of social housing and investment in the Rural Transport Programme.

Dr Keilthy said that if energy poverty is eliminated it would upgrade the energy efficiency and quality of Ireland's housing stock and help to tackle climate change.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment - which was also before the committee -- said it is involved in carrying out research on how to alleviate energy poverty.

Assistant Secretary Matt Collins said there were a number of policy responses to address energy poverty including income supports and building regulations.

Mr Collins said energy efficiency was reflected in the climate change action plan which he said includes an objective of energy retrofitting 500,000 homes by 2030.

He said a high level retrofit taskforce has been established to support this target.

He said the Warmer Homes Scheme was a grant scheme for households in energy poverty and he said funding for this scheme had increased in recent years.

Mr Collins said energy efficiency measures are essential to address the root causes of energy poverty.

He said the department would continue to improve how energy schemes target those most in need in line with the Climate Action Plan.

Principle Officer at the department, Robert Deegan, said the waiting list for the Warmer Homes Scheme is increasing.

He said the waiting list for the Scheme is increasing because the measures available have been expanded.

He added that they had also expanded the range of people who were eligible to apply for the scheme.

Mr Deegan said there had been an increase in the Budget this year up to €40m.