Home Energy Upgrade Guide

Your guide to home energy upgrades

Are you tired of paying high energy bills and feeling the chill in your own home? Well, you’re not alone! Upgrading your home’s energy efficiency is a smart investment that will not only reduce your bills but also make for a more comfortable home –  but it can seem daunting.

In the guide below, we’ll take you through the process of home energy improvement. We promise to keep things simple and engaging, so sit back and read on!

Step 1: Figuring out what needs to be done

Before you start any upgrades, it’s important to to see what improvements are needed in your home. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but the important thing to remember is that every bit counts and you don’t have to do it all at once.

We recommend looking at all the options and trying to plan what fits into your budget, and what will have the biggest impact on your bills for the best value. These are the main things to do in this stage of the process:

Book a BER assessment

A BER assessment is compulsory to receive any SEAI grant. A BER evaluates “the energy performance of your home. It also comes with an advisory report that recommends works to improve your home’s energy rating (BER-Homeowner-Leaftlet.pdf (seai.ie)“.

You can read our guide on BERs here to find out how to check if you already have a BER or what you need to know to get one. (Don’t worry, the SEAI have grants to help with the cost of getting a BER).

Do your own free home energy checks

While you wait for the BER assessment, you can avail of these fantastic free Home Energy Kits through your local library and find some quick wins to make your home warmer & more efficient. 

The kits include a Thermal Leak Detector to find draughty air leaks, a Plug-in Energy Monitor to understand how much energy your appliances are using, a Temperature & Humidity Meter and a few other handy tools. You can see the full contents of the kits here.

One easy “quick win” is to use the Thermal Leak Detector to do a DIY draught-proof your home. You can buy adhesive window & door seals at a low cost. They’ll help stop the cold air getting in and your heating getting out.

Get your boiler/heating system serviced

It might not feel like it would make a difference but if your boiler hasn’t been serviced in a while it could be costing you at least 5% on your annual heating costs (with some estimates of up to 15%!)

Average boiler service [source]: €60-€100
Average Irish annual gas bill [source]: €1,660
5% efficiency saving on annual bill: €83

That means your boiler service cost could be covered by the saving on your bills each year.
This “free” regular servicing means boiler will be less likely to break down and need replacement parts –  so save you lots of money in the long run and have the peace of mind knowing your boiler isn’t going to cause chaos at the worst of time.

Another quick win is to replace all of your home lighting with energy efficient LED bulbs. It does usually make sense to change them out all at once but if you’re on a tight budget, you can just use LEDs as replacements until your home lighting is completely LED.

Now that you’ve assessed your home and made some improvements, you’ll have a better idea of what upgrades you need to make next.

Step 2: Keeping the heat in

Insulating your home is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy costs and increase comfort.
It’s so important to remember you can do just one thing at a time and get grants for each part through the SEAI.

We lay out all the different things you can do to improve your home’s efficiency and to keep the heat in. Some of these have SEAI grants you can avail of.
If you’re unsure of how grants work, don’t worry – we have a step-by-step guide here. You may qualify for a fully funded home upgrade if you meet the below welfare eligibility requirements:

Criteria Description
1. You must own and live in your own home This must be your main residence, where you live most days of the week
2. Your home was built and occupied before 2006 This means the ESB meter was connected and property lived in prior to 2006
3. You receive one of the following welfare payments
  • Fuel Allowance as part of the National Fuel Scheme.
  • Job Seekers Allowance for over six months and have a child under seven years of age
  • Working Family Payment
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Carers Allowance and live with the person you are caring for
  • Disability Allowance for over six months and have a child under seven years of age

Attic & Wall Insulation

Upgrades to attic & wall insulation have the biggest impact on both comfort and cost. According to SEAI, a home can lose up to 30% of its heat through the roof & walls. If you were to avail of a grant now, you could potentially save up a large portion of your energy bill for years to come. SEAI has Homeowner Guide’s for Attic & Rafter Insulation here and Wall Insulation here.

Here are the grant amounts you can receive from SEAI (for homes built & occupied before 2011 only):

Apartment (any) €800
Mid-Terrace €1,200
Semi-detached or end of terrace €1,300
Detached house €1,500
Apartment (any) €700
Mid-Terrace €800
Semi-detached or end of terrace €1,200
Detached house €1,700
Apartment (any) €1,500
Mid-Terrace €2,000
Semi-detached or end of terrace €3,500
Detached house €4,500
Apartment (any) €3,000
Mid-Terrace €3,500
Semi-detached or end of terrace €6,000
Detached house €8,000

Windows & Doors

Your home could be losing about 10% of its heat/energy through the windows and doors. This step is generally recommended after you’ve already completed attic & wall insulation. Unfortunately, there is no individual SEAI grant for door/window upgrades – but they are included in the One-Stop-Shop/Fully Funded Grants. If you’re over 65 or looking at energy upgrades for someone who is, it’s worth looking into the Housing Aid for Older People Grant which is available through the Wexford County Council. This grant can be used for roofing, electrical, central heating repairs or in this case to “repair or replace doors and windows”. This grant is means tested with the income criteria below:
Yearly Household IncomePercentage of CostsMaximum Grant
Up to €30,00095%€8,000
€30,001 – €35,00085%€6,800
€35,001 – €40,00075%€6,000
€40,001 – €50,00050%€4,000
€50,001 – €60,00030%€2,400
Over €60,000No grant payableNo grant payable

Floor Insulation

The last type of insulation is floor insulation. Unfortunately, floor insulation isn’t possible in all homes. It’s estimated that around 10% of your home’s heat is lost through the floor but it would be recommended to only look into floor insulation after upgrades are made to attic, walls, window & door insulations.

There is no individual grant available through the SEAI. Like windows & doors, floor insulation upgrades may be recommended as part of the One Stop Shop or Fully Funded upgrade grants.

If you’ve gotten to this stage in your energy upgrade journey, it’s likely worth looking at Heating Controls below before further exploring floor insulation.

Heating Controls

SEAI offer a €700 Heating Controls upgrade grant which goes towards the installation of smart heating control technology in your home. Smart controls are a great addition to your energy saving & bill-slashing journey because they allow you to control exactly when and how much energy you use. SEAI have a full guide to Heating Controls here and you can apply for the grant directly on the SEAI website here.

Step 3: Adding renewable energy sources to your home

Adding renewables to your home is the final step in the home energy improvement process. Lots of people want to improve their home’s energy efficiency, jump straight to looking at solar panels and get put off by the cost.

We recommend looking at renewables only once you have your home properly insulated by following the steps above. Here’s what you need to know:

What are the different types of renewables in Ireland?

The most common types of home renewables in Ireland are Solar (PV) panel systems, ground-source heat pumps and wind turbines.

Solar panels
At the end of 2022, the Irish government announced significant changes to the Solar PV regulations in Ireland. Crucially, they have removed the need for planning permission for rooftop solar panels and the introduction of the Microgeneration Scheme which will better allow you to sell excess energy back to the Irish electricity grid. These changes have removed the main barriers most Irish people had to installing solar panels.

Heat pumps
Heat pumps are a necessary requirement if you want to achieve an A1-rated home – but don’t worry, only 0.02% of homes in Ireland reach an A1 standard (like this one in Enniscorthy!).
Heat pumps can be a bit hard to get your head around, but if you want to know more, SEAI have a full guide here.

Wind turbines
Wind turbines might seem like an attractive option, but generally Solar PV or Heat Pumps are more common in Ireland and less hassle with planning permissions, maintenance and cost. Every household is different, but we would recommend only looking into turbines if neither solar panels or heat pumps are suitable for your home.

What SEAI Grants are available for renewables?

SEAI have a number of grants available for renewables. You can see the full breakdown below. If you’re unsure what the best solution is for your home, SEAI has an information page on solar PV here and a full guide for heat pumps here.
Grant nameCriteriaGrant Value
Heat Pump Systems All Houses (built and occupied before 2021)€6,500
Heat Pump Systems Apartments (built and occupied before 2021)€4,500
Heat Pump Air to Air (Built and occupied before 2021)€3,500
Solar Hot Water  (Built and occupied before 2021)€1200
Solar PV€900 per kWp up to 2kWp€1800 for 2kWp solar panels
Solar PV€300 for every additional kWp up to 4kWp€2100 for 3kWp solar panels
Solar PVTotal Solar PV grant capped at €2400€2400 for 4kWp solar panels

And there you have it, the complete guide to home energy upgrades in Ireland! By following these simple steps, you’ll have a more energy-efficient and comfortable home. Don’t be afraid to take the first step, and remember, every little bit helps – you don’t have to do it all at once.

Even just checking out the free home energy kit and draught-proofing your home is a great first step at very little cost.

We hope you found this guide useful. If you need more information or are feeling lost, feel free to reach out to us at info@wexfordtownsec.ie and we can point you in the direction of people that can help you on your upgrade journey.

Check out our Facebook page to see what we’ve been up to lately:

Frequently Asked Questions about home energy upgrades

We’ve tried to make this guide clear and easy to follow but there is a lot of information.

In short:

  • Assess your home (either yourself or get a BER assessor to do it for you)
  • Plan what upgrades you need. The best path is usually something like: quick DIY improvements then insulation upgrades then smart heating controls and renewables like solar panels or a heat pump.

If you need any help, just email us at info@wexfordtownsec.ie and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

You can do it however you like! Everyone’s situation is different and SEAI caters for both options. You can avail of individual grants for one piece of work at a time. For example, you can complete your attic insulation this year and wait to do your wall insulation when you can afford it – that’s no problem!

You can upgrade everything at once by availing of the One Stop Shop or Fully Funded grants.

Not necessarily, but we do strongly recommend getting one early on.

You can start to make some minor improvements to your home by draught-proofing, managing your appliance usage with the free home energy kit – but, a professional BER assessment will give you a full picture of your home’s energy efficiency and allow you to plan your upgrade path.

It’s worth noting that improving your BER rating will increase the value of your home.

You can save up to 50% on your energy bills by upgrading the energy efficiency of your home. The exact amount you can save will depend on the specific upgrades you make.

With the new regulations in Solar PV, it’s possible to cut your energy bills even more by selling back to the grid.

It’s entirely up to you. Solar PV can definitely help reduce your energy bills. However, if you add renewables before insulation, you’ll still be losing a lot of the heat you produce through the fabric of your home – which isn’t very energy efficient!

We think it’s best to make sure you’re keeping the heat in first, then add a more renewable energy source.

The money saved from both increased efficiency and reducing the likelihood of repairs needed means that a yearly boiler service should more than pay for itself.

It might not feel like it because you have to pay for the service out of your own pocket and you never “see” the savings, but it’s definitely worth doing.

Before applying, make sure you read the Homeowner Application Guide first. Then, you can apply online here, apply through an energy partner or you can fill in the Homeowner Application form and post to: Better Energy Homes Scheme Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland P.O. Box 119 Cahirciveen Co. Kerry

SEAI set out a 6-step guide:

  1. Choose your energy upgrades and grants
  2. Decide how to apply for your grant
  3. Select your registered contractor
  4. Submit your grant application
  5. Get the works done
  6. Grant payment request
SEAI have lots of information about grants. You can also visit our Home Energy Grants page where we try to break things down and make them easier to understand.