Survey finds Irish homeowners focused on energy efficiency to save on costs
Posted on: 31 Jan 2023
Majority of upgrades aligned to comfort and warmth, as well as a desire to save money
Attic insulation is now the most preferred home upgrade, followed by new windows and solar panels.
Three quarters of people don’t know if their planned home energy upgrades will be eligible for a grant
Credit unions remain the leading provider of loans for home energy upgrades
Research undertaken by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has found that those considering upgrades to their home are focused on cost savings as well as other factors such as comfort and warmth, and to be more climate friendly.
The survey, which was undertaken of 1,000 people by iReach, shows that three quarters (74%) of people who are planning to carry out home energy upgrades are motivated by potential savings to their bills and 62% are focused on a desire for more comfort and warmth. Other reasons included a desire to avail of grant support (43%) and to be more climate friendly (38%)
When it comes to preferred home energy upgrades, there has been a very significant increase in those intending to carry out attic insulation, perhaps driven by the generous grants on offer from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 41% (up from 33% in 2021) of those who are planning home improvements said that they would like to insulate their attics. This is closely followed by upgrading windows and installing solar panels. 21% of those who intend to carry out home energy upgrades selected a heat pump as a desired measure (up from 15% in 2021).
The kitchen (48%) is the room most people would like to improve, followed by bedrooms (46%), living room (45%) and exterior of the house (42%).
The research found that 55% of respondents plan to spend up to €5,000 on home improvements with 29% planning to spend in excess of €10,000. This indicates that a wide range of improvements are being considered and that a significant proportion of Irish households are prepared to make a large investment in long-term upgrades.
One third of consumers plan to borrow money to fund home energy upgrades, with 63% highlighting that their local credit union will be their port of call. One in three (33%) indicate that they will borrow from a bank, with credit cards (2%) and friends and family (1%) also being utilised to fund home energy upgrades
Despite the recent campaigns to raise awareness of the grants available for home energy upgrades, there continues to be a lack of knowledge amongst consumers with regard to grant eligibility. Three quarters of consumers (73%, 74% in 2021) don’t know if their planned work will be eligible for a grant. 18% state that their planned work will be eligible for grant support (up from 15% in 2021), with 9% of respondents (down from 11% in 2021) stating that their planned work will not qualify for grant support.
Carbon Footprint and Sustainable Homes
When it comes to the climate crisis and sustainability, there continues to be a strong view that Irish people are not playing their part in living more sustainably. 53% of survey respondents indicated that Irish people are not doing enough to address the climate crisis. 71% of respondents highlighted that improving their home to have a better energy rating would impact positively on the environment. However, as a driver for future home improvements, being greener or more climate friendly did not feature within the top three reasons for a home energy upgrade.
Commenting on this year’s findings, ILCU Head of Communications, Paul Bailey said, “This research provides great insight into the key considerations for households across Ireland, whereby people are focused on the cost of living but also recognise that home upgrades will benefit in the short, medium and longer term. Upgrades are being considered evenly across the home, both inside and out, indicating a considered approach as households become more aware of the type of work that can be undertaken. However, it should be noted that there remains a lack of knowledge among householders as to what grants are available, highlighting the importance of ongoing awareness activities and initiatives.”
In 2021, the Irish League of Credit Unions, together with Energia and House2Home launched CU Greener Homes (www.cugreenerhomes.ie), a one-stop-shop for home energy upgrades. CU Greener Homes provides access to all of the information and supports needed to carry out home energy upgrades, including the initial survey and assessment, the available grants and the grant application process, the finance required, the upgrade work itself, and the project management.
A key feature of the CU Greener Homes website is a bespoke Energy Upgrade Calculator. By inputting a few basic details about their home, in just 3 minutes, the calculator enables people to find out the cost of proposed home energy upgrades for their home, the grant support which may be available, and the cost of credit union finance.
In order to support the green economy and encourage members to strive for most energy efficient upgrades, credit unions participating in the scheme are offering low-cost green loans with rates as low as 4.79% (4.9% APR)*.
Paul Bailey added
“While the increased cost of living may cause some householders to defer significant home energy upgrades, it’s important that people are aware of the generous grant supports available for single, one-off measures. Whether credit union members are looking to borrow a small amount of money for attic insulation, or they need a larger loan to fund a deep retrofit, credit unions are on hand to help with a low-cost loan”.
Further information on the CU Greener Home Scheme is available at https://cugreenerhomes.ie/.