A closer cross-departmental collaboration is critical to make retrofitting homes a reality and generating its multiple benefits.

The International Energy Research Centre (IERC) at Tyndall National Institute has today launched a report on the multiple benefits of retrofitting homes on the first day of its annual conference on The Post-Pandemic Charge Towards our 2030 Targets.

Potential to create up to 32,000 jobs

The IERC are calling on the government to exceed the current home retrofitting ambitions in terms of speed and scale to leverage the environmental, social, and economic benefits for the Irish economy, which could be in the region of €600 million per year. The proposed activity also has the potential to create up to 32,000 jobs.

The report presents the potential direct and indirect benefits of a nationwide cost optimal retrofitting programme, which would upgrade homes to a B2 energy rating, as targeted under the Climate Action Plan.

The potential reduction in energy use and associated carbon emissions are estimated to be around 53 terawatt hour and 12.7m tonnes respectively.

In addition to the energy saving, a significant gain would be the rapid reduction in fuel poverty. Lower energy bills for households would lead to a better quality of life with €4.5 billion of additional annual disposable income within the Irish economy.

There is also a benefit to the exchequer in annual savings on social welfare spending such as household fuel-allowances.

Gains in productivity and output

The increased health and wellbeing benefits could save the Irish economy up to €600 million annually, through gains in productivity and output, reduced sick leave and absenteeism, reduced burden on the healthcare and social welfare systems.

Annual savings on the reduction of hospital admissions alone, could be over €20 million for the HSE, and more than €2 million to patients.

IERC policy and regulatory innovation lead Dr Piyush Verma

The report also highlights the significant benefits that could be accrued through VAT on the retrofit works, property tax due to increased property values and stamp duty due to increased values of properties sold each year.

IERC policy and regulatory innovation lead Dr Piyush Verma said: “Housing is a fundamental requirement for life and good quality housing is critical to human health and wellbeing. Policymakers need to understand the non-traditional benefits as well as stakeholders involved in home retrofitting.

"This report brings together a detailed stakeholder mapping and connects some of the previously unconnected dots of the retrofitting market to help develop new strategies for achieving our short-term as well as long-term retrofitting ambitions.” 

Prof Brian Norton, head of energy research at Tyndall National Institute

Prof Brian Norton, head of energy research at Tyndall National Institute, said: “While much retrofitting has taken place in Ireland in recent years, there remains a significant amount of work to be done to improve the overall efficiency of Irish homes.

"This report makes a strong recommendation to integrate the policies and programmes of various government bodies and departments to leverage the full potential of home retrofitting."

The report highlights the holistic perspective of Irish home retrofitting under its flagship research programme – ‘Energy Policy Insights for Climate Action’ – an initiative funded by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communication Research and Development Programme.