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Retrofitting programme limits consumer choice

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The role of LPG and BioLPG in a just transition for rural Ireland

53% of Irish people say they could not afford to deep retrofit their home

Consumer affordability and heating technology choice are key to the success of the National Retrofitting Programme

Over half of Irish people say they could not afford an average cost of €56,000 to ‘deep retrofit’ their home, according to national omnibus survey research commissioned by Liquid Gas Ireland. The findings published today (10.11.21), follow last week’s launch of the Climate Action Plan 2021, which reiterated the Government’s ambitious target to retrofit 500,000 homes and install 400,000 heat pump systems in existing dwellings by 2030.

Respondents were asked how they would react to this cost when considering lower carbon options in a situation where their home heating system broke down. Not only were one in two not in a position to foot an average retrofit bill, but 66% were also unaware of the Government’s intention to ban the installation of fossil fuel boilers in new homes by 2023.

In response to what would concern respondents most about having to carry out extensive energy upgrades on their home heating systems:

  • 66% cited the high cost to deep retrofit a home for installation of a heat pump system.
  • 57% pointed to a resulting lack of other low carbon options should their heating system break down.

Commenting, Chair of Liquid Gas Ireland, Brian Derham said: “While we very much support the overall objective of the revised Climate Action Plan, it’s clear that more lower carbon options need to be embraced and promoted by Government to encourage homeowners to engage with Ireland’s decarbonisation journey. We must broaden the scope of the current ‘one size fits all’ approach to retrofitting and heat pump installation. This is particularly important for rural communities who must continue to have access to financially viable technology choices that meet their unique needs and allow them to positively support Ireland achieve its climate action targets.

When looking for lower carbon home heating alternatives, it’s clear to see that cost remains the number-one barrier in deterring homeowners from ‘deep retrofitting’ their houses to facilitate the installation of a heat pump system. Our findings also reveal the real concern that exists around a potential lack of financially viable lower carbon heating options that many homeowners could face if they wish to switch their home heating source.”

The average cost of €56,000 for a full scale retrofit in 2020 including heat pump installation is based on an estimation published by SuperHomes, an initiative of Tipperary Energy Agency.

Mr Derham added: “Despite ambitions to combine grants and low-interest loans to convince people to upgrade their homes, there remains a significant cost differential which homeowners will be obliged to bridge. For many this is out of reach due the age of the property or for older members of the population who may not be able to draw down a loan to finance home improvements. For example, if a retired couple on the State pension were to receive an SEAI grant to retrofit their home, the retrofit would still constitute a significant investment from the homeowner. It is highly likely that this couple would fall within the over 50% of people who simply can’t afford a retrofit.”

“Secure, clean, and efficient lower-carbon fuels like LPG and renewable BioLPG, can play a significant role as an alternative option in transitioning homes from solid fuel and oil-fired heating. BioLPG as a drop-in fuel, delivers up to 90 per cent EU certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional fossil fuels, making it carbon tax exempt. It is the industry’s ambition to transition to 100% BioLPG by 2040 and in doing so, we can play an active role in Ireland’s net zero ambition. Therefore, LPG as a transition fuel and renewable BioLPG must be recognised by Government as a lower carbon alternative, which will also support the commitment to renewable energy heat sources as set out in the Climate Action Plan. Promoting choice and affordability will be fundamental if we want all communities to contribute and buy-in to the ambitions announced last week.”

Liquid Gas Ireland commissioned the research as part of the Amárach Research October omnibus survey. The survey was conducted using a sample of 1,000 people with quotas aligned to represent the national population set on gender, age, social class, and region. The survey was completed fully online between 19th – 25th October 2021.


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