Moving forward and going green

Significant changes to the SEAI’s Better Energy Homes Scheme include the removal of grant assistance for high efficiency gas and oil boilers along with an increase of the reduced amount for the boiler going towards the heating controls.

“As heating controls were always a requirement for the boiler replacement, it will make no difference whatsoever to the financial side for the customer. However, it does appear to be a substantial statement by SEAI of their long-term intention to disassociate themselves from fossil fuel based appliances,” said Richie Burke, HAPAI Director.

“It sends a strong message to the industry that the governing agencies of EU Member State countries want to move away from fossil fuels and move closer to low carbon and even carbon neutral methods of heating our homes,” said Criostoir McCormack, HAPAI’s secretary.

So what are the alternatives to fossil fuels heating our homes? “As part of its announcement, SEAI has introduced new grant assistance for the retrofitting of heat pumps into older homes, and quite a large grant too. SEAI will be offering a grant of €3,500 for the installation of a heat pump which will come into effect sometime after April 2018,” said Shane Henderson, HAPAI Director.

According to Shane, many people think heat pumps are not suitable for older, poorly insulated homes and indeed, many homes may not be suitable. It is always best practice to do a very accurate heat loss calculation of any home being considered for the installation of a heat pump.

“Older homes can comfortably run with heat pumps and if the insulation is not up to standard, it will cost more to run with a heat pump. To coincide with the heat pump grant, SEAI has increased its external wall insulation grant from €4,500 to a whopping €6,000. Home-owners can now install a heat pump, install external wall insulation, install heating controls and receive grants of up to €10,200.”

Shane adds, “SEAI seems determined to promote lower carbon emissions and hopefully this will roll out into the industry to create more sustainable work for our members. We see Irish companies such as Ashgrove Renewables offering Thermia and Mitsubishi heat pumps, whereas Irish manufacturers such as Grant Engineering has launched its very own heat pump range to suit many different house sizes along with its own unique hybrid range.

“Cost plays a factor and for this reason we see most of the retrofit market offering air-to-water heat pumps rather than ground-source heat pumps. Air-to-water heat pumps require only a very small outdoor footprint and do not require expensive ground drilling. The flipside to this is ground-source heat pumps enjoy far greater consistent temperatures all year round of approx. 12°C to 15°C, whereas air-to-water heat pumps rely on a very inconsistent air temperature and usually require some form of back up for those times it cannot produce enough required energy for the home.” Richie added, “We are delighted to be entering some exciting times ahead with the onset of even more technologies into Irish homes and every member must bring themselves up to current speed should they wish to be included in these technologies. Companies such as Grant Engineering and Ashgrove Renewables offer product heat pump training on a regular basis.”