Oil-heated homes and energy use

 

Sir, – In response to “Irish household carbon emissions worst in EU” (April 3rd), we would agree that more effort is required to upgrade the thermal efficiency of older homes and improve energy efficiency.

There are approximately 700,000 oil-heated homes across the Republic, and over 500,000 still use a standard-efficiency boiler with minimal controls. We have to be realistic – most of these homes were built before 1980 and have low thermal efficiency. Their owners will not have the readily available funds to move away from fossil fuels, eg to air-source heat pumps as advocated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which announced a grant for this type of heating system this week.

Many older properties, particularly those without cavity walls, cannot be upgraded at reasonable cost to a thermal standard where an air-source heat pump can be used. For example, in a recent improvement scheme in Tipperary, it cost €52,000 per home, and the SEAI grant of €3,500 for a heat pump and up to €6,000 for external insulation does not make a huge dent in this cost.

OFTEC, representing the domestic oil and solid fuel industry, would propose that a stepped approach to improving energy efficiency would offer better results. A nationwide boiler-replacement grant, easily accessed with minimal paperwork and no salary means-testing, would increase energy efficiency across the oil sector immediately. If 500,000 standard oil boilers were upgraded this year, the carbon savings alone would be 700,000 tonnes and the costs savings to homeowners in the magnitude of €150 million.We need to be careful. We cannot tell people what they can and cannot do with their own homes. Consumers will heat their homes in the cheapest way possible, and if they like a higher degree of warmth and can afford it, then that’s their decision. It’s only through education, better policy and grant provision that we will see a reduction in carbon emissions and an increase in thermal efficiency. – Yours, etc,

DAVID BLEVINGS,

Ireland Manager,

OFTEC – Oil Firing

Technical Association,

Newtownards, Co Down.