€3.3 million for Social Housing Retrofitting

  • Retrofit of homes in County Laois to make them warmer, healthier and more comfortable. Homes will emit less carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Works to be funded by the Carbon Tax.

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has allocated €3.3 million to Laois County Council for the retrofitting of 160 local authority-owned houses in the county. The retrofitting of homes in Mountrath, Portlaoise, Rathdowney, Arles, Portarlington & Mountmellick  will result in warmer, more comfortable homes and benefit householders’ health through improved air quality. After the works, the Building Energy Ratings (BER) of homes will typically have gone from an E- or D- rating to a B2. They will be expected to be substantially cheaper to heat than similar homes heated by oil or gas.

The works, which are part of the Midlands Retrofit Programme and funded by the Carbon Tax, survey works commenced in September 2020 and construction works are due to begin in early 2021. Works will typically involve insulation, upgrades of windows and doors and installation of heat pumps (renewable energy heating systems), as committed to under the Programme for Government. This will help Ireland’s efforts to combat climate change. About 40% of Ireland’s energy-related carbon emissions are from buildings.

Commenting on the allocation, Minister O’Brien said: “I’m delighted to allocate €3.3 million to Laois County Council to retrofit these homes. This is proof of the Carbon Tax in action to improve people’s lives – in this instance for people on low incomes. These works will make homes warmer and easier to heat for householders, some of whom are elderly and feel the cold. Householders’ health will benefit from improved indoor and outdoor air quality, and those currently using oil or gas will see a saving on their energy bills.”

Minister O’Brien added: “Making homes across the country more energy efficient and heated by renewable energy sources is a priority for this Government. The Midlands Retrofit Scheme is an important pilot project for the Government’s plan to retrofit 500,000 homes across the country by 2030. It’s also an important part of the Just Transition, which includes a commitment from the Government that nobody is left behind as we move to a low-carbon future. I would urge Laois Council to forge ahead as quickly as possible to use this allocation, which will improve the quality of life for people in Laois and help reduce our carbon emissions.”

John Mulholland, Chief Executive Laois County Council added;

“This very positive announcement and the committed funding will allow Laois County Council to further progress the business of taking action at local level to reduce carbon emissions and to improve the domestic comfort of many people that reside in publicly owned building stock around the County. It will also assist in developing new skills, training and opportunities for people in our community under the just transition programme.”

  • The Midlands Retrofit Programme is part of the Government’s Just Transition for the Midlands. Under Budget 2020, €20 million was allocated from the Carbon Tax to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to target the retrofitting of approximately 750 homes in the Midlands. Eight counties are included in the Midlands Retrofit Programme.
  • Each of the councils involved in the programme will chose groups of houses in certain areas to be retrofitted’. This will help to ensure that the scheme is cost-efficient and has greater impact.
  • Social housing tenants do not need to contact their council. Any household selected for works will be contacted. To minimise the risk of COVID-19, the local authorities have revised their standard operating procedures for carrying out maintenance and inspections of local authority homes.
  • Retrofitting of homes means actions to improve the building’s insulation or heating systems to improve its energy efficiency. Under the programme, selected council-owned houses in the Midlands region will be retrofitted to a BER of “B2” (or to a cost-optimal level). Works will typically involve insulation of attics, walls and roofs; upgrading of windows and doors; replacement of heating systems with heat pumps; and the installation of LED lighting. They usually result in the BER of a house improving from a D- or E-rating to a B2.

The benefits to homes from these works include:

  • It becomes easier to heat all rooms in a house.
  • There is improved comfort through greater insulation
  • With no ash from solid fuel boilers, indoor air quality is improved. This benefits householders’ health.
  • Outdoor air quality is improved, benefiting the community’s health.
  • Efficient heating systems are more convenient to use. They end the need to remove ash from solid fuel fires. When warming a home, there is no longer the need to regularly feed a solid fuel boiler or open fireplace with fuel.
  • Houses with heat pumps release less carbon dioxide from heating than those heated by fossil fuels (like peat, coal or oil). This helps combat climate change. About 40% of Ireland’s energy-related carbon emissions are from buildings.

For more information on the scheme visit: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/building-standards/energy-performance-buildings/midlands-retrofit-programme-local-authority

If you have any specific questions please contact Trevor Hennessy, Senior Executive Engineer, Laois County Council on 057 866 4000

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