One in three homeowners cannot afford to make their properties more energy-efficient, according to a survey by property advisor, Savills Ireland.
It also found that most homeowners do not know the Building Energy Rating or BER of their home.
According to Savills, the cost of retrofitting a home can easily run into tens of thousands of euro which is the biggest barrier for hard-pressed households.
“If you put in external insulation, it can be €10,000 to €15,000, or to put in a heat pump it can be a similar cost so it’s no surprise that people can’t afford to retrofit,” said Orla Coyle, Head of Energy & Sustainability at Savills Ireland. “There are grants available from the SEAI, some of them are fully funded if you are on welfare benefit, but yes, many people can’t afford it so we do need to look at green financing and alternative options to help people.”
EU legislation is currently being drafted which will mean property owners will not be allowed to sell their home if the BER is low. “What they are proposing is that there would be minimum energy performance standards by 2030 if you are buying, selling or renting your home,” Ms Coyle said. “You’ll have to be an E rated home by 2030 and you’ll have to be a D rated home by 2033.”
Savills has found that homes that have a BER rating of A or B sell quicker, “because people are cognisant that they won’t have to do work to the home”.
The research shows that for most homeowners, the financial benefits of retrofitting are more important than the benefits for the environment.
76% of respondents said the ability to save money on energy bills would be their most likely reason to improve the BER of their home, while only 19% would do so to in order to help the environment.
“The high cost of a home energy upgrade is clearly a barrier,” said Beverly Ensor, Divisional Director at Savills New Homes.
“While this could be an indication of just how hard-pressed household finances are across the board, it also suggests that the opportunity cost of a home retrofit is simply beyond the reach of many household budgets and perhaps more needs to be done to encourage the take-up of the Government’s home retrofit grants, as well as the availability and accessibility of those grants,” Ms Ensor said.
Beverly Ensor, Divisional Director at Savills New Homes.
The research shows that Dubliners are amongst the least likely to retrofit their home due to the environmental benefits of doing so, while those living in other Leinster counties and in Munster are more likely to be environmentally conscious.
The older the individual, the less likely they are to cite the environment as the key driver for a home retrofit.
Meanwhile, the findings show that men are slightly more inclined than women to be inspired to energy-proof their home for the good of the environment.