A review of the Better Energy Homes Scheme is underway and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment is currently working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to determine whether or not further changes are required to make the scheme more accommodating.

These were the sentiments expressed by Minister Richard Bruton in the Dáil this week after he was asked by deputy Robert Troy if the eligibility criteria for the scheme will be reviewed so that homeowners who previously availed of it – for minor works or improvements to their homes – are not prevented from accessing the newer scheme.

Minister Bruton pointed out that the scheme – which is funded by his department and administered by SEAI – delivered a range of energy-efficiency measures free of charge to low-income households “vulnerable to energy poverty”.

“To date, over 135,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme meaning the occupants are better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level,” he added.

The aim of the scheme is to deliver a range of energy-efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of exchequer funding.

“The rules of the scheme stipulate that repeat upgrade visits are not provided – this rule is in place to ensure that the available exchequer funding provides upgrades to as many eligible homes as possible and to prioritise eligible homes that have never had any work done under the scheme.”

Meanwhile, the minister went on to say that the scheme was expanded upon last year and as a result can now provide for internal or external wall insulation.

“This will permit the upgrade of more property types such as homes with solid walls, and also increase the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve,” he continued.

In addition, it will enable future fuel switching – demand for the scheme is extremely high.

“This reflects the shift to deeper measures and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these type of works and the delivery capacity of SEAI’s contractor panel.

“My department is currently working with the SEAI to determine whether further changes to the scheme are required and it is expected that this review will be completed in the coming months.”