Free energy upgrades (Warmer Homes Scheme)
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) provides free home energy upgrades to homeowners who get certain social welfare payments. These upgrades help improve the energy efficiency and warmth of your home and are also known as the Warmer Homes Scheme.
The scheme prioritises the oldest and least energy efficient homes. You can apply for the free upgrades again if you’ve already had work done under the scheme, but your home would benefit from more upgrades. To access the scheme again you must still meet the qualifying criteria.
If you do not qualify for the free upgrades, the SEAI provides other grants to help with the cost of upgrading the energy efficiency of your home. The National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme provides grants to bring your home up to an energy efficiency rating of B2 or above, using a private company to manage the work. Or, you can get individual energy upgrade grants, if you only want to do certain upgrades, and would prefer to manage the process yourself.
What energy upgrades are available?
The scheme covers these home energy upgrades:
- Attic insulation
- Wall insulation - including cavity wall, internal wall and external wall insulation
- Lagging jackets
- Energy efficient lighting
- Energy advice
New central heating systems and replacement windows are also occasionally covered by the scheme. Your windows will only be replaced if your walls are being insulated at the same time and the existing windows are single-glazed windows. The SEAI decides if replacement windows are needed on a case by case basis.
Do I qualify for the scheme?
To qualify for this scheme you must meet these criteria:
- You must own your home and be living in it
- Your home must have been built and occupied before 2006
- Your home must have a BER of C,D,E,F or G
- You must be getting one of the following social welfare payments:
- Fuel Allowance
- Working Family Payment
- Jobseeker’s Allowance for over 6 months and have a child aged under 7
- Disability Allowance for over 6 months and have a child aged under 7
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- One Parent Family Payment
- Carer's Allowance and you must live with the person you care for
Note: If you don’t have a BER for your home, the SEAI will do a free BER to check that your home meets the qualifying criteria of having a BER of C or lower.
How does the scheme work?
There are 4 steps to this process:
- Apply for the scheme online or by completing an application form and sending it back to the SEAI. You must ensure you meet the qualifying criteria above when applying. You can use the SEAI online portal to check if you qualify.
- Have an SEAI surveyor check your home is suitable for the works and recommend upgrades. The SEAI will do this if you qualify.
- Get the works done by a contractor appointed by the SEAI
- Get the works assessed by the SEAI once the works are completed. This will include a new BER assessment and may involve a quality inspection.
How to apply
You need to provide evidence that you qualify for the scheme. Full details of the information needed are on the application form.
If you qualify for the scheme because you are getting Carers Allowance, you must also complete the Carers Allowance Confirmation Form (pdf).
If you are getting one of the other qualifying payments, you no longer need to get the Department of Social Protection to complete part of the application form. The SEAI will check your eligibility with the DSP.
The process from application to completion of works usually takes between 24 and 26 months, though this may vary.
Is my home suitable?
The SEAI will review your application and if you are eligible. They will then assess if your home is suitable for the work. A surveyor acting for the SEAI will arrange to call to your home to do this. They will complete a survey of your home, which involves:
- Walking around the inside and outside of your home, including the attic
- Assessing the overall suitability of your home for energy efficiency upgrades
- Measuring, photographing and recording information about your home
- Discussing their findings with you, outlining what work you should get and answering any questions you have
Getting the work done
If your home is suitable for the upgrades a contractor will be appointed by the SEAI to do the work on your home.
The contractor will visit your home to assess the works needed. They will then explain their recommendations to you, and agree a schedule for the work. You should have a written contract with the contractor, which clearly states the work you have agreed to.
After the work is done
When the work is completed, the contractor will give you documentation about the work, including any warranties. It is important to keep these safe, as you may need them in the future.
A Building Energy Rating (BER) is carried out on all homes after the works are complete to assess the building’s energy performance. A BER certificate and advisory report will be sent to you and will also be published on the SEAI’s national BER register.
Some homes will also be inspected to ensure that the works meet the required standards.
How much will it cost?
You will not be charged for work done under this scheme. However, if you sell your home within 5 years of getting the work done, you need to tell the SEAI. You should inform them in writing at least 30 days before your property is sold. The SEAI may ask you to repay some or all of the grant. This is at their discretion.