Greystones & Delgany SEC

8. Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Housing

Table of Contents

8.1 Option a – A Fabric First approach

The opportunities for home upgrades are listed in the table below. As all dwellings are different, each homeowner should look at the list and pick some measures depending on the characteristics of their home. The list below is ranked on a fabric first approach. Upgrading can also help to make homes healthier places to be, by increasing the household temperature it can help sustain metabolic health and movement, reduce the risk of falls, decrease the likelihood of mold, and can improve air quality. 

A fabric first approach involves improving the energy efficiency of the main elements of the building (roof, walls, floors, windows), before considering the use of mechanical or electrical building services systems. 

Taking the fabric first approach means comprehensively insulating your whole home including high performance double or triple glazed windows. In as much as possible you should also make your home airtight to reduce heat-loss and infiltration of cold air. At the same time, you must maintain a good level of ventilation to protect your home from damp and mold. These are the first steps towards making your home energy efficient and are therefore ranked 1-5 in the home upgrades list below.

RankCategoryMeasuresEstimated cost
1Building fabricsRoof insulation15 – 20 €/m2
2Building fabricsCavity Wall Insulation7 – 10 €/m2
3Building fabricsInternal/ External Wall Insulation90 – 140 €/m2
4Building fabricsFloor insulation150 – 450 €/m2
5Building fabricsWindow/ Door Upgrade250 – 350 €/m2
6OthersLighting Upgrade20 €/Fitting
7Heating systemsHeating upgrade – Heating control900 – 1,200 €/System
8Heating systemsHeating upgrade – Condensing boiler5,000 €/System
9Heating systemsHeating Upgrade – Heat Pump3,500 – 8,000 €/System
10Heating systemsHeating Upgrade – Stove3,500 €/System
11RenewablesSolar PV2,400 €/system (1.2 kWp)
12RenewablesSolar Thermal6,000 €/System

Each measure carried out on a domestic dwelling will increase the energy efficiency of the building and in turn reduce energy consumption while maintaining comfort levels within the home.

8.1.1 Levels of domestic upgrade – Option A

Different levels of upgrade are achievable, depending on the budget available and whether you are happy to do several works at once to reach a BER of B2 or higher. 

Three levels of upgrades are explained below. Residents of Greystones/Delgany will find a comfort and an energy saving benefit from carrying out works to the standards listed below. All three can be done together (Home Retrofit upgrade) or one building element at a time:

Level 1: Basic upgrade

A first level of upgrade can be undertaken with low investment. It consists of roof insulation upgrade, cavity wall insulation upgrade (pumping the cavity with beads), and the replacement of non-efficient lights by low energy lights. These works can be carried out without disturbing the functioning of the house. Some grants are available from SEAI for this work but only for standalone measures (insulation, heat pump, heating controls). New windows and doors are not eligible for a grant under this style of upgrade.

Level 2: Advanced upgrade

The next step taken could be to upgrade the heating system. Potential upgrades would be the replacement of an old boiler with a new condensing boiler with heating controls and zones or replacing a fireplace with a new stove. This level is more expensive than the Basic upgrade but still more affordable than the Home Retrofit upgrade (level 3). However, there is no grant available for a new fossil fuel boiler, a grant is only available for the upgrade of heating controls. New windows and doors are not eligible for a grant under this style of upgrade

Level 3: One Stop Shop

In 2022, SEAI launched the One Stop Shop, aimed at engaging groups of households, registered Housing Associations and Local Authorities and Energy Utilities or other organisations to participate in delivering a ‘One Stop Shop’ type of service for energy efficiency works. It is expected that over 5,000 homes will be upgraded to a minimum B2 BER rating, with most of the homes installing a heat pump

This level of upgrade involves building fabric measures and system upgrades which require an achievement of at least a B2 BER rating or an energy uplift or saving of at least 100kWh/m2/yr i.e a house rated C1 would need to be improved to achieve an A3 rating. Although this level does include some of the improvements that have already been listed for level 1 and 2, the difference is that for a One Stop Shop Retrofit these improvements would all be done at the onetime to a standard depending on your existing BER rating and the applicant can also apply for funding towards windows, doors, floor insulation and ventilation improvements. The works would be project managed, the savings would be verified and the grant paperwork would be submitted by the One Stop Shop company

For this level, the following measures should be required: wall insulation upgrade (internal or external insulation), windows and doors upgrade, improving ventilation, upgrading an open fire to a stove and the installation of a heat pump. A photovoltaic system might be added to achieve the BER target. This level attracts a high level of grant through SEAI’s One Stop Shop Retrofit scheme. 

Paybacks are calculated using the grants available for each level in this scenario. However, the grants available depend on the combination of works. Level 3 requires more investment but attracts a higher level of grant. Building comfort is highest at Level 3, the One Stop Shop Home Retrofit Upgrade.

This summary below assumes a Level 3 One Stop Shop upgrade for each house to show a high level of improvement, to give an idea of all the measures available, and to reflect government policy. The One Stop Shop is also where the highest grants are allocated. 

HouseInitial BEREnergy SavingsEnergy SavingsFinal BEREstimated Capital ExpenditureSimple PaybackEstimated Capital ExpenditureSimple PaybackYear of construction
No. Rating(kWh/yr) (€/yr) Ratingwith no grant funding (€)(Years) with SEAI grant funding (€)(Years) 
Table 1: Estimated cost of OneStopShop upgrades for each audited dwelling 

8.1.2 Option B upgrade approach

The Greystones/Delgany SEC requested that domestic audits also include an Option B upgrade approach. The Option B focuses on renewable technology upgrades like solar and heat pumps, this approach might be suitable for some homeowners who wish to implement external or generally less intrusive energy saving works on their homes. An Option B assessment was carried out for each of the 9 homes that were audited, and complete audit reports can be found in Appendix B.

By following the option B retrofit approach homeowners must be aware that this approach can be more difficult to achieve the requirements for SEAI grants as it is not a fabric first approach. If the Option B approach is followed by a homeowner we highly recommend speaking to a qualified SEAI advisor before making any financial decisions because each home is different and some houses may not achieve the SEAI grant requirements and may have to pay the full amount for the work carried out. 

Below is a detailed example of the grants available to home X, home X is implementing the Option B retrofit approach. For this example we are assuming the home does not qualify for the Home Retrofit Scheme with the 35% grant savings so the homeowner will need to apply for individual grants that are offered by SEAI for home upgrades. Each home is different so this example and the following grants may not apply to your home.

HouseInitial BEREnergy SavingsEnergy SavingsFinal BEREstimated Capital ExpenditureSimple Payback
No. Rating(kWh/yr) (€/yr) Ratingwith no grant funding (€)(Years) 
X- Option BD219,811€980B1€16,00016
Table: Option B example

Example: House X Description and Proposed Energy Upgrades

Figure: House X

House description: X

Semi-detached House – 1995 – Block (unknown) construction

Proposed Option B energy upgrades

  • Roof insulation
  • Lighting
  • Heating Upgrade (Water)
  • Heating Upgrade (Space)
  • Renewables

House X has an initial BER rating of D2, with the implementation of all the recommended energy upgrades House X’s final BER would be a B1. With no grant funding, the estimated cost of these energy upgrades would be approx. €16,000. 

House X could be eligible to apply for the following SEAI grants:

Grant TypeGrant Value
Attic insulation€1,300
Advisor inspection grant for Heat pump€200
Air to water Heat pump€6,500
Solar PVUp to €2,400
House X could be eligible to apply for the following SEAI grants

If these upgrades are implemented at the one time then only one BER assessment will need to carried out before and after the works are completed. If the works are carried out individually and the grants are applied for at different times, then a BER assessment must be carried out before and after each works has been completed. The BER assessments can cost the homeowner roughly €200 to 400 for each assessment depending on the size of the home so it is easier and cheaper if all the works are carried out at the one time.

In total, house X could be eligible to apply for approximately €10,400 in SEAI grant funding. This would reduce the estimated cost of the Energy upgrades by almost 65%. 

A full description of the relevant SEAI grants for domestic dwellings can be found in Chapter 10.1 Residential – Home grants and grants related specifically to domestic renewable energy generation can be found in Chapter 9.5.1 Domestic Renewable Energy Opportunities.

Please note that uninsulated homes built more than 30 years ago may require substantial and costly upgrades to qualify for a heat pump system grant. Heat pumps can only be installed in homes which are already energy efficient, (well-insulated, for example) and a registered technical advisor will need to inspect your home prior to commencing work.

Before applying for a heat pump system grant, the homeowner must engage an independent, SEAI Registered Technical Advisor. The Technical Advisor will carry out a technical assessment of the home, and will advise the homeowner on what steps to take to make their home “heat pump ready”, i.e. to reduce the heat loss in their home. They will provide the homeowner with independent guidance on measures necessary to ensure that the dwelling fabric heat loss is lowered to an acceptable level for a heat pump system to perform effectively and efficiently. The required heat loss level is expressed as a Heat Loss Indicator of 2 Watts/Kelvin/m2. In some cases, where upgrades may not be cost-optimal, a value of HLI up to 2.3 Watts/Kelvin/m2 can be accepted provided additional requirements are met. The homeowner will receive an additional grant of €200 towards the cost of the registered technical advisor’s inspection after completing the heat pump installation. As with other SEAI grants, this grant can be applied for online. Note: In order to qualify for a heat pump or renewable energy grant, the home must have been built and occupied before 2021.

The table below lists the 8 homes audited and their estimated Option B upgrade costs with no grant funding. As can be seen from House X, every home will be different but applying for individual SEAI grants homeowners could reduce their Option B upgrade costs by up to 40% in some cases.

HouseInitial BEREnergy SavingsEnergy SavingsFinal BEREstimated Capital ExpenditureSimple Payback
No. Rating(kWh/yr) (€/yr) Ratingwith no grant funding (€)(Years) 
1 option BD219,861€1,788B1€19,49911
2 option BC19,934€894A3€13,16515
3 option BD18,214€739B3€20,01727
4 option BD118,649€1,678B2€16,21210
5 option BD120,319€1,829C1€16,4219
6 option BC19,828€885B1€13,18315
7 option BC36,311€568C1€7,30013
8 option BD111,029€993C1€13,55514
Table 2: Option B summary of potential energy savings and upgrade costs



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