Ireland’s credit unions on target to retrofit 2,000 homes in 2021

Ireland’s credit unions on target to retrofit 2,000 homes in 2021

The Credit Union Development Association is on target to retrofit more than 2,000 homes this year.

THE Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), which currently runs Ireland’s first end-to-end home retrofit scheme — ProEnergy Homes — has partnered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to secure its own ringfenced revolving grant budget and has announced an expansion of the popular scheme, opening it up to all other credit unions.

CUDA report that such is the demand from participating credit unions, half of the 2021 SEAI €1.5m in grant aid is already allocated, but as part of the agreement, it is anticipated that additional funding will be sought in the second quarter.

The Pro Energy Home Scheme was first piloted by CUDA in early 2019 across 20 credit unions and was quickly oversubscribed.

The scheme has proven popular as it takes all the “leg-work” away from the homeowner. Homeowners simply fill out an application form with their local participating credit union, after which Retrofit Energy Ireland Limited (REIL) conducts an assessment on their property and present them with a report.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA explained why the scheme is so popular with homeowners: “As the trusted provider of financial services in communities throughout Ireland, credit unions are uniquely positioned to support the delivery of a one-stop-shop model for home energy retrofits.

“A national project management firm (REIL) is appointed to oversee all surveys and works, grant funding of up to 35% is available from SEAI for all qualifying works and low-rate financing is made available for the balance of costs through the applicant’s local credit union.

“Based on the current level of interest from credit union members and the number of credit unions signing up to the scheme, we’ll need to look for additional funding shortly and can envisage the annual level of grant funding running at €6-10m.”

According to Josephine Maguire of SEAI: “The SEAI recognises that access to finance can be a barrier to residential retrofitting so we are pleased to once again support credit unions in delivering the ProEnergy Homes scheme that provides access to finance at competitive rates to their members.

“The SEAI has supported the ProEnergy Homes scheme for a number of years and the one-stop-shop model has proven to be a case study for the delivery of residential retrofitting at the ambitious scale targeted in the National Climate Action Plan.”

The Pro Energy Home Scheme model combines everything an applicant will need under a simple, unified process including an independent home survey report setting out their options, a dedicated project manager to arrange contractors, quality assurance on the works completed, access to low-rate credit union loans to finance the works.

CUDA say the scheme has now been tweaked slightly in response to the pandemic. Home surveys and works will resume as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the interim, a team of expert project managers and surveyors are available for telephone consultations with interested applicants.

The ‘free and no obligations’ call-backs can be requested from www.proenergyhomes.ie and applicants will have the opportunity to discuss all their available options and receive professional advice on any technical questions they may have.

The average amount spent is about €14,000 made up of grants, savings, and borrowings. The most popular measures undertaken in 2020 were external wall insulation, new glazing. Multi-zone boiler controls also proved very popular.

The scheme covers retrofits to a range of energy systems, including attic insulation, external wall insulation, the installation of solar panels, and upgrades to windows, among others.

Mr Johnson also welcomed the Governments clear commitment to supporting upskilling and job creation nationally as demand grows for retrofitting projects: “As community organisations, credit unions are anxious to support local tradespeople. CUDA supports the Government’s announcement of four new centres of excellence to train 2,000 people in retrofit skills.”

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