Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alex White has met with Louth County Council in Dundalk to review the completion of the energy upgrade of 2,100 local authority homes throughout the county. The works were completed as part of the Better Energy Communities 2014 programme, part-funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The ‘Louth Energy Pilot Project’ has been described as the largest social housing ‘Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme’ of its type to take place in Europe this year. According to cathaoirleach of Louth County Council Cllr Peter Savage the council is “proud that Louth has led the way in regards to the size of this energy efficiency project”. The council oversaw the energy efficiency upgrade to 2,100 local authority homes throughout Louth. The upgrades will facilitate the reduction of home energy bills while also increasing comfort levels for individuals and families. “Technology is changing all our lives and this project carried out by Louth County Council is an example of the type of technology that is life changing for homeowners, who are now able with climote to easily control their heating timings and temperature via a smartphone, text message or online which is increasing energy efficiency and reducing wastage. “The upgrading of local authority residents’ heating systems, has delivered tangible results with Louth County Council reducing energy costs for homeowners as well as improving the Building Energy Ratings of the council’s housing stock. Ultimately it is families who have really benefitted from the introduction of this scheme,” said Cllr Savage. Speaking at the event in Dundalk, Minister White said: “Ireland’s commitment to 2020 energy efficiency, renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets – and our longer-term goal of deep decarbonisation by 2050 – will have a positive impact in the market for sustainable energy technologies and services, like climote. But what I am really excited to see, in this project, is the tangible connection between energy policy and real improvements in the quality of life for citizens. “It also shows the potential for local authorities when it comes to achieving our National Energy Policy objectives. This will inform the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which I will be publishing in the autumn. I want to acknowledge the important contribution made by the Energy Efficiency Fund in providing the resources that have enabled this initiative to happen. The successful delivery of projects like this demonstrates a new approach to energy efficiency funding in the public sector.” The project began with a trial of the climote remote control home heating system in 40 homes in Cooley Park, Dundalk, in October 2013. Since then, 2,000 homes, from the Cooley Peninsula down to Drogheda, have been fitted with a climote remote control heating system and a further 100 homes are receiving a full energy upgrade. The uniqueness of this scheme is highlighted in the collaborative approach undertaken to fund the energy improvement works with financial and technical guidance provided by Electric Ireland which, as the major co-funder of the project, has been involved in energy-efficiency improvement works undertaken in Dundalk over the past few years, including €3 million spent on the Cox's Demesne Regeneration Scheme. Paul Stapleton, general manager, Electric Ireland, said “being a major energy provider in the country it is important as an organisation that we contribute to the energy saving of our end user, in this case local authority residents who are experiencing fuel poverty. The funding and technical support from Electric Ireland allows projects of this size to be successfully completed.” It is expected that later in the year that many other local authorities and social housing agencies throughout Ireland will now seek to replicate the project carried out in Louth with climote and other project partners.