Residents say retrofit of ‘freezing’ homes in Cork estate has halved bills

Residents say retrofit of ‘freezing’ homes in Cork estate has halved bills

Thomas Gould, TD with residents Michelle Spillane (left) and Anne Marie Dollard at the completed and renovated houses at Allen Square. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

RESIDENTS of the Allen Square area, who had called for upgrades to their homes, say recently-completed works have made a “huge difference”.

People living in the Gurranabraher estate began protests back in 2016, calling for insulation works to be done to their homes.

A number of homes in the area have now undergone energy efficiency upgrades as part of a deep retrofit programme. The measures installed generally include heat pumps, attic insulation, external-wall insulation, and window upgrades.

Following some delays as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the work in the area is now completed.

TD Thomas Gould had raised the issue of the need for the upgrades in the homes when he was a Cork City councillor.

He welcomed the completion of the work and said he would like to see the same type of retrofitting rolled out across more homes.

“These were older houses. Old windows, no insulation, old heating systems. People were spending a fortune on them. They couldn’t heat them,” he said.

“[The work] was badly needed. There’s a lot of people around this area too who would be older people who have lived there for years and now there’s a lot of young families and for them, it makes a huge difference.”

Positive reaction from residents 

The completed and renovated houses at Allen Square. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The completed and renovated houses at Allen Square. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Allen Square resident Anne Marie Dollard said the main issue with the homes before work began, was that they were “freezing”.

However, the retrofitting work has now solved the issue, also reducing energy bills.

“It’s like night and day. It’s unbelievable. The energy bills have gone down by half,” she said. 

Ms Dollard has been living in the area for 13 years and said that she is proud to call the place home.

“It’s a lovely area we’re living in. The house itself- I’m astounded. I didn’t expect half of what we got done.” 

“It’s fantastic the difference it has made,” she added.

Another resident, Michelle Spillane, said the work made a “huge difference” and it is a relief to have it completed.

“There would be a lot of older people living on the square too, so the fact that they have more comfortable houses now, that’s a relief for them as well,” said Ms Spillane.

She added: "The house is warmer. The stove that was put in- I haven’t used it as much because the house is so warm.”

Most properties will achieve B2 rating 

On completion, most of the properties will have achieved an energy rating of B2 or higher and thus meet the near Zero Energy Building standard set by the Building Regulations for existing buildings, said a spokesperson from the Cork City Council Housing Directorate.

“The benefits of the energy efficiency improvement works go beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Reduced energy bills means more disposable income for the occupier, a more comfortable home and better health outcomes for the occupier,” added a spokesperson.

“Cork City Council is participating in a number of projects that seek to improve the rate of retrofitting in Cork and the wider region.”

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