Huge uptake expected for ‘self-financing’ home energy upgrades supported by SEAI

Credit Unions Launch “The Home Energy Saving Loan”

A simple “zero money up-front” model to allow people to improve the energy rating of their home, has been launched today by the Solution Centre, a collaboration of credit unions that supply product development and business supports to Ireland’s Credit Union sector.

The “Home Energy Saving Loan” is an innovative partnership between credit unions and Retrofit Energy Ireland Ltd (REIL) with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The Scheme makes it easy to access SEAI grant funding of 35% towards the cost of approved energy upgrades to an applicant’s home, with easy to access low-cost finance for the balance of the costs being provided by participating credit unions.

Speaking on why the idea for the Home Energy Saving Loan Scheme was developed, Cathal Tyther, Manager of the Solution Centre,

“If we want homeowners to be persuaded to significantly improve the energy efficiency of their homes, we need to make it easy for them to do so, and to help them overcome the “challenges” that are currently putting people off.”

REIL take on the role of programme co-ordinators and are responsible for the procurement and completion of all works, while SEAI is providing a 35% grant for work completed and the rest of the funding can be received from the participating Credit Union at a discounted rate. Based on the pilot study, participants are typically expected to borrow between €7,000 and €10,000 and spend between €10,000 and €15,000 on their homes.

Paddy Sweeney of REIL said;

“With this initiative we have taken all the “leg-work” away from the homeowner. All they need to do is fill out an application form, after which REIL will conduct an assessment on their property and present them with a report. They can then decide whether or not they would like to proceed. Absolutely no money changes hands until all improvements have been made. From beginning to end, the input required by the home owner is minimal. The way this Scheme is structured, there is easy access to grant funding which will significantly reduce the cost (by 35%), while the repayments on the Credit Union loan funding the balance of the costs of works can typically be expected to be largely offset by the reduced energy cost in the majority of cases. The payback periods can be relatively short, particularly for items such as cavity wall insulation, boiler controls and replacing an open fire with a solid fuel stove. This means many people funding this with a credit union loan over 5-7 years could be turning a profit within 5 years as well as having a cosier house from the get-go.”

Speaking at the launch today, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, the representative and lobby group for many of Ireland’s largest credit unions and is the organisation behind the Solution Centre, commented:

“We expect uptake to be huge. We have already rolled out a pilot scheme in Dublin in 2017 which was a great success. The approved energy upgrades are wide-ranging and include attic insulation, cavity insulation, solar thermal panels (hot water), internal drylining insulation, windows upgrades, external wall insulation, windows & doors upgrades, gas or oil boiler upgrades with heating controls, air source heat pump, heating controls and solid fuel stoves.

The scheme will initially be piloted across 6 large credit unions with a membership of over 200,000 at promotional interest rates of 6.99% or less, but we expect it to be rolled-out to many more credit unions in 2019.”

Home Energy Saving Loan Steps – How it works

  • Client fills in Expression of Interest (EOI) Form and hands in to Credit Union staff
  • EOI form is sent to REIL and they arrange a Home Energy Survey
  • Once survey is complete, the Applicant is issued with a report and given 30 days to decide on whether they wish to proceed or not.
  • If they decide to proceed, the Applicant picks what upgrades they wish to complete. Once the cost of works less the grant has been identified, a loan application is submitted to the Credit Union for this amount at a special interest rate of 6.99% or less. Once loan approval is given, REIL will proceed to arrange procurement of contractors to complete the works.
  • Once works are complete, REIL inspect all works to ensure they are up to SEAI standards. Once all work is approved a Post-BER assessment takes place and the loan is advanced to cover the cost of works.
  • Once payment is received, REIL issue client with a receipt of payment. That’s it!

Participating credit unions in the pilot Scheme are:

  • Blanchardstown and District
  • Capital (Dundrum, Sandymount, Drimnagh)
  • Community (Castleknock, West Cabra)
  • Core (Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Foxrock)
  • Dubco
  • South Dublin (Stillorgan)

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