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Do you have an old home that needs an energy upgrade? Ask the expert!
Are you looking to find out more about how you can make your home more energy efficient? We've teamed up with Kieran to answer some FAQs from home insulation to deep retrofits.

- I have just bought an old home that needs renovations, but I don’t know where to start. What is the first step I should take as I consider investing in home upgrade projects? 

Firstly I would estimate what budget (including say a 15% contingency) you have available. Next I would ask an engineer and indeed an experienced carpenter to assess what building works may or may not be required to stabilise the building (eg roof repair, plaster repair etc). Next I would seek a BER Report which will confirm the BER of the building as it currently stands and outline what improvements are required and what their likely benefits will be.

Then I would get a costing from suppliers and tradesmen on the list of elements (building and BER related) and prioritise this list of expenditure in line with your available budget, starting with the building works. 

- I am looking to invest in my home to help reduce my energy bills and my carbon footprint. However, I am working with a limited budget. What is the first step I should take to make a more energy efficient home?

When you have a limited budget, bang for buck is of course the most important consideration. Depending on the house type it may be that there is significant air leakage (draughts) causing heat loss, maybe even a broken window. Stopping any such drafts will immediately improve the efficiency of your home.

Whether it is draught excluders or some white airtightness tape (which you can apply yourself ) this is a low cost but significant improvement measure. Beyond this, insulating your attic with say 400mm of quilt insulation will certainly make a big difference if budget allows.

- What is a deep retrofit project and how can it benefit my home and my energy bills?

A deep retrofit is when you leave much of the existing bare structure of a building, but you strip back all the electrics, heating, windows, insulation and start again from scratch. In the renovation process you are aiming for a very efficient building envelope and renewable heating system.

The renovated house would typically contain a mechanical ventilation system, renewable heating system (e.g. air to water), good level of airtightness and a whole new insulation layer throughout. Essentially you will be creating heat very efficiently and the newly renovated building will minimise heat loss thus keeping your energy bills very low.

- What is the timeline for completion on bigger projects such as deep retrofits? Would there be any disruptions to my day to day living?

 A significant deep retrofit project would likely mean you would need to move out of your home for four to six months as your house would likely be stripped back to the bare structure before the new energy saving elements can be applied. This would mean that you would need to vacate your house for the duration of these works.

- My home was built 30 years ago, and it loses heat quite quickly when the central heating is turned off. What can I do to prevent this?

What is happening here is that although you are generating heat, you are losing it quickly through an inefficient building envelope. The first place I would look at is air leakage (draughts) as it is a low-cost fix. Are there draughts around windows, under external doors?

If so, these are easily sealed with draught excluders, rubber seals? Beyond this I would check your attic. Does it have 300-400mm of quilt insulation? If not, it isn't a huge expense to fit it and it will bring a significant improvement in your heat retention.

- I am worried about my heating bills especially coming into the colder months. What can I do to bring these down?

Firstly I would set a timer so that you are only using heat when you need it. It may be that your boiler isn't very efficient. Modern condensing boilers are extremely efficient so once you have paid the upfront cost of fitting one you have lower energy bills forever afterwards.

- I am worried about the overall cost of a home energy efficiency upgrade. I want my home to be more energy efficient however I don’t want this to affect my cash flow. Do Energia offer any grants or loans to support projects such as deep retrofits, insulation or solar panel installation?

There are significant grants available to upgrade your home. The quick quote calculator will table a list of improvements for your home, provide estimates for these as will as outlining what grants are available and even what you might expect to pay on a loan to help with the remainder of the cost of the energy upgrades.

- Is there an easy way to calculate the costs of a home energy efficiency upgrade and what loans and grants I can avail of? 

Our quick quote calculator allows you to assess what improvement measures are available for your homes, what they would cost, what their effect would have on the efficiency of your home, What grant monies are available for these measures and even what you would expect to pay back from a loan to assist you with the balance of the monies required.

- How do I know if my home is a suitable candidate for an energy efficiency project?

This really depends on what works you are considering. New homes are not eligible for energy efficient grants. Your home needs to have been built/occupied before 2006 for insulation and heating control upgrade assistance and built/occupied before 2011 for renewable upgrade grants (eg photovoltaic solar panels).

Your existing BER needs to be a C2 or lower and your finished BER rating needs to be a B2 or higher. You need to ensure you have not already received grants for the same home energy upgrades.

- I want to add the most value to my home but don’t know what energy efficiency project will help me save the most money in the long-term. Will someone come out to assess my home to recommend the best option?

 Yes, Once you have filled out the necessary information in the quick quote calculator and you have received your report, a member of our team will call to your home and advise and finalise the most appropriate package of home improvement elements for your home.

- I want to take small steps to help my home become more energy efficient. Can I avail of a loan or grant for smaller projects such as insulation and gas boiler repairs?

Energia provides a gas boiler service which includes a 28 point check for your boiler by RGII registered gas installers for €95. If you are considering a more elaborate upgrade, for example installing new insulation to the exterior of your building, Energia can offer this service too and save you money.

If there are sufficient insulation upgrade works you may in fact be eligible for a grant for this measure.