Xavier Dubuisson is an engineer with 25 years experience in the field of sustainable energy in Ireland and internationally. The founder and CEO at RetroKit, a start-up dedicated to upscaling home energy upgrades with innovative digital solutions and one of the partners in the CHERIS project, Xavier has many years of experience helping homeowners make the right decisions when upgrading or building low energy homes.
Ludgate Hub, The Wheel and RetroKit have been selected to deliver an innovative new programme aimed at filling the sustainable learning gap.
The CHERIS project aims to support homeowners in making their homes more energy-efficient (ensuring access to grants and funding where possible), reducing household energy costs, all while targeting Ireland’s climate goals. CHERIS will focus on householders in West Cork, addressing their needs at the initial stages of their home energy upgrade journey.
The pilot initiative will also build capacity and know-how within the community in West Cork to develop low carbon communities and further engage in climate action. It will focus on the following key areas in the drive towards energy efficient households:
• Raise awareness and knowledge within the community of home energy upgrade solutions, the costs and benefits of these options, and the support measures and opportunities available.
• Build capacity within the community to support homeowners on their upgrade journey, by providing a tailored advisory service.
• Support the development of community scale energy renovation projects by providing an integrated home energy survey advisory service and signposting for grants available.
For more information on the project you can go to the website: www. ludgate.ie, where you can also register your interest to attend one of our free clinics to learn more about the first steps you can take to reduce and decarbonise your energy use.
So what is a home energy retrofit or upgrade? Put simply it’s a renovation project that aims to improve the energy efficiency of your home, reduce its carbon footprint, improve comfort and reduce bills.
Measures to consider include insulating the building fabric (walls, roof, floor, windows and doors), upgrading its heating and ventilation systems, and installing renewable energy systems like solar panels.
Retrofit can be completed in two ways: A step-by-step approach, completing the retrofit in stages over a number of years, but with an overall plan or a whole house deep retrofit to get to a B2 energy rating or better all in one go.
There are many benefits to retrofitting your home including:
• Reduced energy bills – it will save you money!
• Improved comfort – warmer, less draughts, mould and damp
• Energy and Carbon Savings – Reducing your carbon footprint
• Greater Building Durability – Upgrading your home will last longer
• Increased property value – more of an issue for home buyers
• Future proofing against rising energy costs and carbon taxes
There are some simple cost-effective step by step measures you can consider individually:
• Attic insulation – Up to 25pc of your home’s heat can be lost through an attic without insulation. Upgrading your attic insulation to 300-400mm deep is a simple and cost effective measure.
• Cavity wall insulation – Poorly insulated walls can account for up to 35pc of your heat loss. If you have a cavity wall upgrading this can be a simple and non-disruptive measure to help save you money and stay warmer.
• Draught proofing – A lot of heat can be lost through air leaks in the building. Simple things like draught proofing a loft hatch or blocking an open chimney can really improve comfort as well as save energy.
• Heating controls – Improving your heating controls by adding heating zones, thermostatic radiator valves or smart controls is a simple measure that could reduce your heating bills by up to 20pc!
• Low energy lighting – A simple swap to LED bulbs can help reduce your electricity bill and it is an easy DIY job too!
More advanced deep retrofit measures can include: External wall insulation, triple glazed windows, heat pumps and solar panels.
However, before starting your retrofit, particularly if you are planning a whole house upgrade, it is important to have a plan in place.
An existing building energy rating, (BER) will tell you where your property sits on the rating scale from G – A1 and also comes with an advisory report containing some high level advice.
For more specific advice, a home energy assessment will include an existing BER along with a detailed assessment of your current building’s performance, recommended upgrades and options, estimated costs, impact and advice on what grants are available. There is a list of technical assessors, who provide this service, on the SEAI website or you could work directly with a registered one stop shop.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers a number of grants to support single measure and whole house retrofit. More information is available on their website: www.seai.ie.
The differents grants available are:
Individual Energy Upgrades Grants offers individual measure grants from €700 – €8,000 per measure, which typically covering 30-40pc of the cost, (up to 80pc for cavity and attic insulation). These can cover things like attic insulation, wall insulation, heating controls upgrades, solar panels and heat pumps and you can pick and choose as many as you like.
One Stop Shop service offers grants for a whole house retrofit, to achieve a B2 energy rating or better all in one go. The one stop shop manages the whole process from start to finish and the grants cover between 30-50pc of the work. The grants are deducted from the homeowners bill directly. Additional grants for items such as windows, doors and ventilation are only available through this scheme.
The Fully Funded Energy Upgrade (formerly Warmer Homes) scheme offers free energy efficiency upgrades to homeowners who receive certain welfare payments such as job seekers, fuel allowance etc.
The SEAI community grant scheme offers similar grant amounts to the One Stop Shop service to help communities and homeowners. Individual homeowners must apply through an experienced project coordinator as part of a broader application. The main criteria is that a whole house retrofit is completed, resulting in a post work B2 energy rating or better.