The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte TD, announced on Tuesday that the Government has approved his proposal to establish a 70 million euro “Energy Efficiency Fund” that will provide project lending for energy efficiency works in the public and commercial sectors.
According to the minister, the Energy Efficiency Fund will be separate from, and additional to, the grants-based Retrofit programme for private homes, which he claims currently maintains more than 4,000 jobs.
“The Government has today authorised 35 million euro in seed capital for the Fund, which will leverage a similar amount from the private sector,” said the Minister. “We estimate that about 250 million euro in savings can be made in energy bills in the public sector alone. Around 675 jobs, direct and indirect, will be created for every 10 million euro in expenditure.”
The Energy Efficiency Fund will finance two main types of project in the public and commercial sector:
• Energy Performance Contracts, where funding is drawn down by an energy services company, a commercial business that designs and implements energy savings for clients; and
• Direct lending to client companies.
The Minister also announced a move to allow home owners to finance energy-saving improvements more easily. “Separately, I will bring proposals to Cabinet later this year for the residential sector to transition from the Retrofit scheme, which pays grants after the event to those who can commit to the cost of upgrading their homes, to a new financing model—“Pay as you Save” (PAYS). Under PAYS, the homeowner will enjoy the same immediate benefits as Retrofit, and will be able to finance their home improvements from on-going savings on their energy bills.”
We estimate that about 250 million euro in savings can be made in energy bills in the public sector alone…
According to Joseph Kearney of the BER Assessor Association of Ireland, householders and businesses are best advised to get organised before applying for such grant funding. “The best thing you can do is to ring up a qualified assessor prior to getting any of the grants—to find someone who can do an energy audit. Get them to have a look at the building and to go through it with a fine tooth comb, finding out exactly what the customer’s needs are and how to match those needs with the grant.”
Mr Kearney says that for most buildings, there are areas that prove most cost effective and should be tackled first.
“To keep in the heat, insulating the attic is probably one of the cheapest things to do—it is very cost-effective. The next thing then in terms of insulation is to insulate the walls, especially if the walls are standard brick and block cavity walls. Pumping insulation into the gap makes a huge difference to the building’s energy efficiency. If you have single-glazed windows, switch to double glazing, and if you have double glazing over 15 years old, especially if it is steel or aluminium, you should also consider replacing that. Energy-saving lightbulbs will also pay for themselves over time.”
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