Fuel poverty is a real challenge in Limerick estates

Cllr Sarah Kiely

FUEL poverty is a real challenge when it comes to climate action.

That’s according to Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely, who believes that grants must now be adjusted so people can make their homes more energy efficient.

She wants to see Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) funding take into account income and the condition and energy issues within homes.

“We are all told we can ‘play our part’ or ‘make an impact’. Unfortunately, when it comes to retrofit to older homes we are missing a key part,” Cllr Kiely told the Limerick Post.

“When you visit the SEAI website, you will se a range of options you may be eligible for, everything from electric vehicles to thermal upgrades to your home. On further inspection, you will notice that if an energy upgrade has been previously incentivised, you  will not be eligible to claim any further grants in relation to this measure.”

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The City East representative is of the view that grant structures need to change if we are serious about climate change.

“I also worry we are locking people out of this system. At present it is only for people with no previous application or someone who can pay upfront for a top of the range heating system who can apply, then after work is completed can recoup the cost.

“This is a disaster and it has to change.

“We need to capture more people, the people in the middle, in older estates like Kennedy Park, Glasgow Park, Janesboro, Carey’s Road, Norwood, Lynwood, Singland and other similar estates throughout the city.”

Cllr Kiely feels that, for some people, fuel poverty is a real challenge.

“We need to help these people. If they have an open fire or a stove the cost of running that has increased hugely. When someone buys coal and blocks, it is out of necessity.

“People in these estates most likely own their homes, worked all their lives, and now can’t apply for a simple grant to make sure they are not left behind when it comes to climate action. They want to do their part and can’t.”

Cllr Kiely has raised the issue with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and now plans on bringing it to the attention of Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.

In response, SEAI told the Limerick Post that there are different approaches to home energy upgrades, including one for those on certain benefits which provides a free service and one for those paying for the works themselves.

“Information on the grant rates available, as well as the relevant terms and conditions, can be found on the SEAI website.”