Credit unions to loan up to €10m for home energy upgrades

Pilot scheme indicated users borrowed average of €10,000 for home improvement

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Up to €10 million is expected to be loaned to credit union members for a new home improvement funding scheme this year.

The ProEnergy Homes scheme will be rolled out to 20 credit unions this month to provide funding for energy upgrades to a borrower’s home.

The scheme provides ease of access to a grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for 35 per cent of the cost of the upgrades and low-cost finance for the balance. It was piloted last year in five credit unions.

The Solution Centre, a strategic development unit for credit unions, has devised the package with Retrofit Ireland (REIL) and the SEAI.

“This year we are targeting a 10-fold increase in the amount of works the scheme supports, by expanding the scheme to around 20 credit unions nationally. Our main focus is to make the homes more comfortable, more efficient and to reduce carbon emissions,” said Cathal Tyther, manager of the Solution Centre.

During the pilot phase involving five Dublin credit unions, participants borrowed an average of €10,000 and spent an average of €15,000 on upgrades including attic, cavity wall and external wall insulation as well as solar thermal panels and heating and window upgrades.

REIL managing director Paddy Sweeney said repayment of the credit union loan funding can largely be offset by the reduced energy costs for homeowners.

People planning on upgrading are assessed by REIL through a home energy survey. If they proceed with the loan, an interest rate of 6.9 per cent is applicable.

Credit unions involved in the expanded scheme include 10 in Dublin, two in Wicklow, two in Limerick, one in Kildare, three in Galway and one in Louth. And while this scheme runs for a limited time into early autumn, Credit Union Development Association chief executive Kevin Johnson said the lenders are making long-term commitments to supporting energy sustainability.

“We intend to extend our support by providing low-cost finance for electric vehicles and businesses in the very near future,” he said.