Frequently Asked Questions

Who can avail of the scheme?

It is a National scheme and therefore all homeowners of dwellings built before 2006 may apply. Landlords and owners of multiple properties may also apply, however they must submit a separate application form for each property.

What are the criteria for applying?

To be eligible to apply to the Better Energy Homes scheme, the following criteria must be met:

• Grant approval from SEAI must be in place before any purchase of materials or commencement of measures undertaken.

• The grant offer, once accepted by the applicant, remains valid for six (6) months from the date of issue of grant offer notification.

• Applicants to the Better Energy Homes scheme must use Contractors who are active on the registered Contractor List at the time of works.

• The measure being applied for must be for newly fitted materials / products and cannot have been incentivised previously in the particular home under any other grant programme.

• Qualifying expenditure includes materials and labour except in the instance where a Contractor is completing works within his own home in which case only the cost of materials will be deemed qualifying expenditure.

How do I apply?

There are 2 methods to apply for a Better Energy Homes scheme grant.
• Online: Immediate response once all the requested information is provided.
• Application Form by Post: Response within 20 working days.

For application details please visit http://www.seai.ie/grants

Can I apply if I received funding under the Home Energy Saving Scheme, Green Homes Scheme or Home Energy Saving Pilot scheme?

Homeowners, who have received a grant payment through earlier schemes, may ONLY apply for measures not included in any such payments.

Who can apply?

All homeowners of dwellings built before 2006 may apply. Please note that a third party (ie contractor, assessor or anyone other than family or close friend) must not apply on your behalf for a Better Energy Homes grant as this contravenes the Terms of their Registration.

What type of work can I get a grant for?

Grants are available to eligible applicants for undertaking the following works, in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Contractor’s Code of Practice and Standards & Specification Guidelines.

• Attic Insulation
• Wall Insulation – this includes either cavity wall, internal dry lining or external insulation
• Installation of a High Efficiency (> 90%) Gas or Oil fired Boilers with Heating Controls Upgrade
• Heating Controls Upgrade
• Solar Heating
• Building Energy Rating (BER)

How much are the grants?

Grants are fixed for each type of measure as indicated in the table below. In the instance where the cost of the work (vat inclusive) is less than the fixed grant amount, the actual cost will be reimbursed:

Energy Efficient Works Incentive

Cash Grant Value*

Insulation Attic Insulation €200
Wall Insulation – Cavity €250
Wall Insulation – Internal Dry Lining
Apartment (any) OR Mid- terrace House €900
Semi-detached or End of Terrace €1,350
Detached House €1,800
Wall Insulation – External
Apartment (any) OR Mid- terrace House €1,800
Semi-detached or End of Terrace €2,700
Detached House €3,600
Heating System Heating Controls with Boiler (Oil or Gas) Upgrade. €560
Heating Controls Upgrade only €400
Solar Heating €800
Building Energy Rating (BER) €50**

Please note the minimum grant amount for the first application must be €400. A BER grant does not count towards the €400 minimum.
* Cash Grants are set value unless expenditure is below the set value, in which case the actual expenditure will be reimbursed.
** A Building Energy Rating (BER) is an integral part of all grant applications under the Better Energy Homes scheme, whereby homeowners must undertake a BER on their home after grant aided works have been completed. A homeowner is entitled to BER funding of €80 once per home. This funding will be applied to your grant application automatically provided you have never applied previously for BER funding. You will be informed during the online grant application process if BER funding is available for your home or as part of your Letter of Grant Offer if you have applied through the post.
*** From December 8th 2011 internal and external wall insulation grants will no longer be one single amount, but rather be based upon the house type.

Why is there a €400 min threshold when applying for the grant?

There is a €400 minimum grant amount which is eligible for grant applications under the Better Energy Homes scheme. This is to encourage such homeowners to consider more comprehensive energy efficiency solutions for their homes rather than simply undertaking say attic insulation. In cases where the homeowner undertaking a higher cost measures such as heating or external wall upgrades, then they are already making a more significant commitment to energy efficiency. The minimum grant level applies to first applications only and not subsequent applications for the same property, and this limit is clearly stated in all our consumer guides and forms.’

Can Local Authority tenants apply?

No, you must be the owner of the property to apply to the Better Energy Homes scheme.

Who can do the work?

In accordance with the scheme’s Terms and Conditions, all works must be completed by a contractor from SEAI’s Registered List. We have over 3000 contractors registered and we strongly advise homeowners to seek at least three quotes from different contractors before selecting a final contractor to use. If on the other hand you have a preferred contractor whom you wish to use but who is not currently registered then you can ask them to become registered which is free of charge and quick to complete. It is also important to note that as the contract to do the work is between the homeowner and contractor, we recommend that a contract be in place between the two parties before works commence. A copy of model contract can be downloaded from the website.
A BER must be completed by a registered BER assessor. A list of registered assessors is available on the SEAI website www.seai.ie/BER

Should there be a contract in place between the Homeowner and the Contractor

It is a requirement of registration that all contractors have a written contract with the homeowners for all works undertaken under the Better Energy Homes scheme. Homeowners are therefore required to comply with this requirement and ensure that there is a contract in place between the homeowner and the contractor, which will ensure appropriate levels of consumer protection.

Are there specific standards which the work must meet?

All works must be undertaken by an SEAI registered Contractor in accordance with the requirements set out in the Contractor Code of Practice and Standards and Specification Guidelines. The table below sets out the summary performance requirements, however you are strongly advised to consult with your appointed Contractor for details, noting that homeowners cannot unilaterally waive any of the scheme requirements.

Measure

Summary Requirement

Insulation

Attic Insulation

Ceiling Level: Target U-Value ≤ 0.16 W/m2K

Rafter Level: Target U-Value ≤ 0.20 W/m2K

Wall Insulation – Cavity

NSAI Agrément certified system

Target U-Value ≤ 0.27 W/m2K

Wall Insulation – External

NSAI Agrément certified system

Target U-Value ≤ 0.27 W/m2K

Wall Insulation – Internal Dry Lining

Target U-Value ≤ 0.27 W/m2K

 

Heating System

High Efficiency Oil / Gas Boiler with Controls upgrade.

Upgrade comprising

·     Boiler seasonal efficiency ≥90% (as indicated on the SEAI HARP database)

·     Two zones (space and water) with 7 day programmer (time / temperature)

·     Time / temperature control of electric immersion

·     1 additional zone OR installation of sufficient TRVs

Heating Controls Upgrade only

Upgrade comprising

·     Two zones (space and water) with 7 day programmer (time / temperature)

·     Time / temperature control of electric immersion

·     1 additional zone OR installation of sufficient TRVs

Solar Heating

Product (panel/tube) must be on SEAI registered product list and supplying > 10 kWh/ m2/Yr

Building Energy Rating (BER)

Use registered BER assessor and BER published on National Administration System

Can I buy my own materials and get a registered contractor to do the works?

Yes a Homeowner can purchase their own materials and then get a registered contractor to carry out the works. SEAI have developed a range of detailed buyer’s guides for all our measures to guide home owners and inform their decision. Guides are available at www.seai.ie/betterenergyhomes

Does the grant cover labour and materials?

Yes the grant is designed to cover all or part of the materials and labour depending on the size of the job.

Is it ok if I change my nominated contractor before I get the works carried out?

An applicant may use a different contractor from that indicated in their original application and the new contractor should be identified when requesting grant payment. However to be eligible for the grant the contractor used to complete the measure must be registered and active with SEAI for that measure at time of undertaking the works and claiming the grant. It is the applicants responsibility to verify this when choosing to change contractors. If a contractor is not registered with the scheme at this time and that works are carried out, grants will not be paid and contractor faces a period of deregistration.

How long does the grant last?

The grant offer is valid for a six month period. All works and the BER must be carried out within this timeframe. Note that all the paper work must also be submitted prior to the six month expiry date. Paperwork received after the six month expiry date will be declined and a grant will not be paid even if the work has been carried out within the 6 month time period.

When can I get the work done?

In accordance with the scheme’s Terms and Conditions, Grant Approval from SEAI must be in place prior to any purchase of materials or commencement of works is undertaken.

How do I claim my grant?

You can only claim your grant payment when:
• All your contractors have completed the upgrade works and filled in the relevant Declaration of Works form (DOW).
• Your BER assessor has undertaken a site visit, completed / published the BER and returned to you the completed BER Declaration of Works form.
• You have fully paid all contractors and your BER assessor.
Once the above has occurred, carry out the following steps to claim your grant:
• Review all DOW forms and the Request for Payment form to ensure that all sections have been completed, signed and dated by the relevant Contractor(s), Assessor and yourself. You should sign all DOW forms in the Homeowner Declaration section.
• If for any reason some or all of the works were not undertaken, the grant should be cancelled, and sent with documents for payment claim.
• Submit all documents together to the address below.
Better Energy Homes scheme
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
P.O. Box 119
Cahirciveen
Co. Kerry
• All paperwork must be submitted together within the six month grant offer period.Please note incomplete or missing forms will result in your grant claim being rejected and all forms being returned to you for resolution. This in turn may result in a delay in your grant claim.
Homeowners are required to retain their invoices and receipts for all works undertaken and to have them available for presentation to SEAI personnel or its agent / inspector should their home be selected for QA inspection or for audit by SEAI.

How long does grant payment take?

It takes on average 4-6 weeks to process grant payment, from the date the paperwork is received to payment into your account. This timeline is based on the provision that we receive correct and completed paperwork. If your paperwork is not in order, it may be sent back to you for further information or clarification and this may delay the payment process. We would therefore ask that both you and your contractor complete all sections of the ‘Declaration of Work’ forms carefully, before submitting them. Please note you will NOT receive confirmation of paperwork being received, however you will receive confirmation when payment is made to your account. Finally as all payments are made via electronic transfer of funds, please ensure that the bank account details you have provided are correct and eligible to take such payments.

I live in an island community – are there any special arrangements for our circumstances?

Applications received from off shore islands are eligible for 50% additional grant support. This offer is limited to those islands identified on http://www.pobail.ie/en/Islands/InhabitedOffshoreIslands.

I receive the fuel allowance (as part of the national fuel scheme), can I draw down the Better Energy Homes scheme grant?

All homeowners of dwellings built before 2006 may apply for this scheme. However those on a Fuel Allowance (as part of the National Fuel Scheme) may be eligible to receive home energy improvement services under SEAI’s Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS). We would recommend that you consider this scheme also as it may be more suitable for you than the Better Energy Homes scheme. All information on the Warmer Homes Scheme can be viewed at www.seai.ie/warmerhomes or by calling the FREE phone number: 1800 250 204.

I recently got several measures carried out recently through the Better Energy Homes grants scheme is it possible to apply for more grants in the future?

Yes you may apply for more grants, but they will ONLY be for measures not included in any previous grant payments.

Do I require planning permission for External wall insulation?

External insulation works to your home under the Better Energy Homes scheme may be exempted from the planning code. However, it should be noted that external insulation of a structure would constitute exempted development under Section 4(1) (h) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 only if it “constituted works which do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render the appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures”.
If there is any doubt about whether or not the particular external insulation proposed for your home will affect the character of the structure as an SEAI grant applicant you are advised to contact the planning authority in your area to clarify the matter.

I have a protected structure, can I apply for a Better Energy Homes Grant?

In the case of protected structures, proposed protected structures, and buildings within Architectural Conservation Areas planning authority should always be obtained by you before carrying out any works.

Homeowners must consult with the Local Authority prior to commencement of the works if the property may be on the Local Authority Record of Protected Structures (RPS) list or is in an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), or the installation of any measures supported by this scheme may require approval from the Local Authority and or may require specialist knowledge on the part of the Contractor because of a potential effect on the character of the building and the architectural heritage value of the element to be changed.

Is my contractor responsible for ensuring my home is properly ventilated?

Proper ventilation of a home is necessary in order to ensure:

• adequacy of fresh air for a healthy and comfortable environment for the occupants

• adequacy of the air supply for safe operation of particular types of fuel burning appliances

• minimisation of condensation risk

• avoidance of radon accumulation in affected areas In undertaking the works, and on the basis of the findings of an initial assessment of the home, your Contractor is required to ensure that no works will compromise existing ventilation provisions. They are also required to notify you of any ventilation issues which they identify and which you will need to have rectified before Better Energy Homes works can commence.

Can I insulate some of my exposed walls and still receive the Better Energy Homes Grant?

To be eligible for the Better Energy Homes grant the optimum solution, which is both physically and economically practicable must be implemented. For example when dealing with walls that this comprises internal insulation of all exposed walls; external insulation of all exposed walls; and in the case of roof insulation that this comprises insulation of the whole surface of the ceiling/ roof-space as appropriate.
Partial works are only accepted in exceptional circumstances, for example where it is not physically possible to provide complete roof insulation coverage due to small inaccessible areas of the roof; the idea of dry-lining all exposed walls in a particular dwelling may become economically unviable where it would require the replacement of kitchen units. There may also be instances where the physical limitations are to such an extent as to make insulation unviable. Any exceptional circumstances must be detailed by the contractor in the Declaration of Works.

I can only afford to dry-line 2 of my exposed walls. Am I eligible for a Better Energy Homes grant?

You would not be eligible for a grant under the Better Energy Homes scheme as dry-lining only 2 walls would not provide the optimum insulation solution for your home. The ability of a household to afford the particular solution cannot conflict with the objective of securing a viable solution for the home.

I know my two front rooms are the coldest. Can I just dry-line the exposed walls in these two rooms?

No. To be eligible for a Better Energy Homes grant you must implement the optimum solution. In this case you must dry-line all exposed walls. Doing such a solution would provide the greatest improvement in energy efficiency and comfort levels within the home.

Some of my external walls are already insulated. Can I apply for a grant to insulate the remaining walls?

Yes. If at the end of the insulation work on your home all the exposed walls are insulated you are eligible for a grant under the Better Energy Homes scheme.

I live in a dormer home. I am planning to insulate the roof space, what grant am I eligible for under the Better Energy Homes scheme?

If you insulate the complete roof area of a dormer dwelling you are eligible to an attic grant under the Better Energy Homes scheme.

My Stairwell runs along the gable wall and would become very narrow if I were to dry-line this wall. What can I do in this situation?

You must not reduce the width of your stairway to less than 800mm. However it would be important to put in what insulation can be accommodated to address this potentially very large area of heat loss. In this case you can use insulation that is 50mm thick instead of 80mm.

Are hollow block walls eligible for a Better Energy Homes grant?

Yes hollow block walls are eligible for either the dry-lining grant or the external wall insulation grant. The hollow block wall is not eligible for cavity fill insulation as this is an inefficient method of insulating this type of wall. The majority of heat is lost through the solid sections of the hollow block such as the ends and spine of the block. So dry-lining could be expected to reduce heat loss by 70-80% and blown insulation into a cavity wall would reduce heat loss by 70%, on the other hand blown insulation in a hollow block wall will only reduce heat loss by approximately 25%.

Are there instances where I might not qualify for a wall insulation grant?

Yes in certain circumstances it will not be possible to implement wall insulation which will satisfactorily and sufficiently address heat loss. Such circumstances include:
• A hollow block wall cannot be insulated with blown insulation
• A home with very small rooms e.g. traditional cottage, may not be able to sacrifice the space for dry-lining
• A heritage or listed building may have a preclusion on the upgrading the external facade of the building and hence external wall insulation will not be possible.

Why is Glazing not covered in the Better Energy Homes scheme?

The Better Energy Homes scheme is focusing initially on the measures that have been proven to offer the best impacts and value for money in energy efficiency terms. For this reason glazing is not included in the Better Energy Homes scheme.

Some of the walls in my home are cavity and others brick and/or wooden frame walls. What is the best insulation solution?

In cases where your home has different wall types, different insulation methods may be required to ensure your home is insulated to the optimum solution. SEAI would suggest that you discuss the best options for insulation for your home with your selected contractor. It is important to note that where different insulation solutions are required to achieve the required optimum, then you will only be eligible for a Better Energy Homes grant for the measure addressing the majority area of your home.
So for example if 60% of your house has cavity walls and 40% has brick walls. To achieve the optimum insulation solution, you should have 60% of your house insulated by blown cavity wall insulation and the remaining 40% insulated either with external wall insulation or internal dry-lining. In this instance a Better Energy Homes grant would only be paid for the blown cavity wall insulation as this represents the majority area of the solution installed.

Can I get a grant for heating controls for a heat pump or a biomass system?

You can apply for a grant for heating controls associated with these systems as long as you have not already received a grant under the Greener Homes Scheme for the installation of these systems, as controls is considered an integral part of the system at time of installation. The heating control requirements are not suitable for all heating types therefore it is important to confirm with your contractor that the heating controls which you want installed meet the requirements as set out in the Better Energy Homes in order to be eligible for a grant payment. Controls are for the whole of the home.
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Does the grant scheme apply to both new and existing houses? What age must the house be?

To be eligible to apply to the Better Energy Homes scheme, your home must be built before 2006. Homes built from 2006 onwards should have been constructed to the 2003 Building Regulations and so should not require significant insulations or heating system upgrades.

Can I request an Inspection of the work carried out at my premises?

No. Homes are selected at random for inspection, therefore it is not possible to request an inspection. Homeowners are required to retain invoices and receipts for works undertaken and to have them available for presentation to SEAI personnel or its agent / inspector should their home be selected for inspection.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (also known as CO) is a colourless, odourless poisonous gas and is a common yet preventable cause of death from poisoning worldwide. Approximately half of the deaths from unintentional CO poisonings result from the inhalation of smoke from fires. Other significant causes are vehicle exhausts and deaths in industrial / commercial settings. On average between 1 and 2 people die each year in Ireland from unintentional CO poisoning in the home in incidents related to domestic heating or other fossil fuel installations in the home (i.e. excluding the inhalation of smoke from fires).
The incomplete combustion of organic fossil fuels such as oil, gas or coal is a common environmental source of CO and is responsible for many cases of non-fatal unintentional CO poisoning. In normal conditions the combustion process (the addition of oxygen) will result in carbon in the fossil fuel, combining with oxygen, in the air, to produce Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the same substance we exhale when we breathe. However, if there is a lack of air for the combustion process or the heating appliance is faulty, Carbon Monoxide can be produced.
When CO is inhaled into the body it combines with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. If a person is exposed to CO over a period, it can cause illness and even death. Carbon Monoxide has no smell, taste or colour. This is why it is sometimes called the “Silent Killer”.
Carbon Monoxide alarms can be used as a backup to provide a warning to householders in the event of a dangerous build up of CO. Check that the Carbon Monoxide alarm complies with the EN 50291 standard. Remember that Carbon Monoxide alarms are no substitute for regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys. For more details please see www.carbonmonoxide.ie