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Frequently Asked Questions

​​Q1. What is Energy Poverty?

Q2. What does this new Strategy do?

Q3. What supports are available for those in energy poverty?

Q4. I have an acute health condition. Can I apply for the new health pilot?

Q5. How can I contribute to the consultation on energy efficiency standards in the rented sector?

Q6. How can I switch energy supplier?

Q7. How was this Strategy developed?

Q8. What are the concrete actions?

Q9. How will you ensure these actions are progressed?


 

​​Q1. What is Energy Poverty?

Energy poverty is an inability to heat or power a home to an adequate degree. Three factors can cause Energy poverty

  • A person's income.
  • The energy costs they must pay.
  • The energy efficiency of their home.

Energy Poverty is quantified in Ireland using the expenditure method of measuring energy poverty. If a household is consdered to be in Energy poverty if it spends more than 10% of their income on energy.

 

Q2. What does this new Strategy do?

It outlines new measures to improve the living standards and conditions of citizens experiencing energy poverty. Specifically, it details

  • A new €20 million pilot project to improve energy efficiency in the homes of people with acute health conditions.
  • It also envisages the future introduction of minimum thermal efficiency standards in rented accommodation.
  • It will see the energy regulator establish and address the factors that prevent people in energy poverty from switching suppliers in order to realise savings on their energy bills.
  • It establishes a new independently-chaired, expert Advisory Group to advise the Minister on energy poverty.
  • It requires DCCAE to release a progress report on addressing energy poverty each year and hold a public forum to allow stakeholders to express their views on energy poverty.

 

Q3. What supports are available for those in energy poverty?

The Department of Social Protection makes incomes supports available to those at risk of energy poverty. The Household Benefits Package provides cash credits to go towards electricity or gas bills. The DSP pay a weekly Fuel Allowance payment of €22.50 paid for 26 weeks each year. This payment helps with the cost of heating their homes. Full details of these schemes can be found on DSP's website at: www.welfare.ie

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme delivers energy efficiency upgrades free of charge to householders who are in energy poverty and meet the other eligibility criteria. The scheme is administered by SEAI and applications can be made on the SEAI website.

 

Q4. I have an acute health condition. Can I apply for the new health pilot?

This new scheme will be launched on a pilot basis in March 2016 as part of the Healthy Ireland Framework. From that date, HSE staff in Community Healthcare Organisation Area 7[1] can refer eligible patients directly to SEAI to receive deep energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Further details will be available when the scheme is launched.

 

[1] Kildare/West Wicklow LHO, Dublin West LHO, Dublin South City LHO and Dublin South West LHO. Largest CHO with a population of nearly 700k. Chosen because it has an appropriate balance between urban, rural and socioeconomic conditions.

 

Q5. How can I contribute to the consultation on energy efficiency standards in the rented sector?

DCCAE and DHPCLG will launch a public consultation by mid-2016. This public consultation will look at improving energy efficiency in the rented sector. Details will be made publicly available at the time of the launch.

 

Q6. How can I switch energy supplier?

Price comparison websites can be a useful tool in helping customers to compare suppliers' offers. The Commission for Energy Regulation has an accreditation process for these websites to make sure they meet requirements about

  • Accuracy of information.
  • Presentation of information and that they are independent and impartial.

A Commission accredited website will show the CER logo on its homepage. For accredited price comparison websites visit www.bonkers.ie or www.switcher.ie .

 

Q7. How was this Strategy developed?

In January 2015 the Department published a progress report on the implementation of Ireland's first Affordable Energy Strategy "Warmer Homes" (published in 2011) . This progress report also contained a consultation paper. This consultation paper sought views from stakeholders on what should form the basis of the Government's next affordable energy strategy. The consultation phase saw 47 submissions made from a variety of stakeholders. The views gathered in this consultation have been instrumental in shaping the direction of this strategy.

 

Q8. What are the concrete actions?

  • DCCAE will provide €20m in funding under the Government's multi-annual Capital Plan for a new three year pilot energy efficiency scheme. This scheme will combat energy poverty by targeting those suffering from acute health conditions, living in poorly insulated homes;
  • DCCAE will expand the eligibility criteria for existing energy efficiency schemes. This expansion will capture more people suffering basic deprivation, as it is likely that these people are also in energy poverty;
  • DCCAE working with DECLG, will undertake a public consultation on the implementation of minimum energy efficiency standards for rented accommodation;
  • SEAI will pilot innovative community-led approaches to addressing energy poverty through the Better Energy Communities Scheme. DCCAE is providing €20m for this programme in 2016;
  • The CER will ensure that competitive energy markets are working for all consumers. These will include those in, or at risk of, energy poverty. This will involve an examination by the CER of the structural factors that underpin consumer disengagement and outline remedial solutions;
  • DCCAE will establish an independently-chaired, Energy Poverty Advisory Group. This group will recommend a new national methodology for measuring and tracking energy poverty. The group will also advise the Minister on energy poverty matters;
  • Relevant Ministers will provide annual updates on energy poverty to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Service Reform. These will be made publically available and an annual stakeholder forum will be held to review and debate them;
  • DCCAE will develop new energy policy measures developed that will be evidence-based. DCCAE will also consider the distributional impacts of these policies. Policy decisions will be taken after we have identified which groups and individuals are likely to bear the costs that arise from those decisions.

 

Q9. How will you ensure these actions are progressed?

The Government will assign responsibility for co-ordinating activity on energy poverty to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Service Reform. This Committee deals with matters as diverse as public health and social inclusion. It will ensure that energy poverty issues are considered as a core part of general activity on dealing with deprivation and public health issues. Ministers will be required to provide annual reports to the Cabinet Committee. Based on these reports, the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources will publish an annual updat. An annual stakeholder forum will be held to review and debate it and other energy poverty issues;

This Strategy also proposes the establishment of an independently-chaired, Energy Poverty Advisory Group. This group will examine the evidence base. The group will make a recommendation to the Minister, on the most appropriate methodology of calculating energy poverty for Ireland. The group will also advise the Minister on a regular basis on energy poverty issues.