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10 Aug 2022

Offaly TD proposes new scheme for heating pensioners' homes

Offaly TD proposes new scheme for heating pensioners' homes

Oil and peat used in most Offaly homes

PENSIONERS should get State help to switch from traditional solid fuels to wood pellets and biomass, according to Offaly-based TD Barry Cowen.

Deputy Cowen's proposal won the unanimous backing of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party at a meeting on Wednesday night.

What the TD called a “bespoke heat retrofitting pilot programme” would have its cost capped at €7,000 and would be overseen by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

Deputy Cowen said his proposal is compatible with the programme for government and should be implemented in advance of the retrofit programme currently in operation.

“It's imperative that we offer alternatives rather than imports,” said the TD for Laois-Offaly.

Deputy Cowen's proposal comes in the wake of Bord na Mona's announcement that it is ending peat production, a move which will see briquettes coming off the market in the next three years.

As part of the Bord na Mona and the ESB's decarbonisation programmes, a retrofitting scheme – which aims to make homes more energy efficient - has been introduced for local authority houses across the Midlands.

Separately, the SEAI has a number of grant schemes in place for home insulation, heat pump systems, heating controls and solar systems.

However, the grants only cover a fraction of the cost in most cases.

So-called “deep retrofitting” of a single house can cost up to €50,000.

According to 2016 figures from the Central Statistics Office, oil is the most commonly used home heating fuel in Offaly, but peat remains a very important source, with nearly 38% of homes being centrally heated by burning it.

That makes Offaly households far more dependent on peat than any other county, including neighbours Westmeath (19.6%) and Laois (16.1%).

The 33-unit social housing scheme built by Offay County Council at Blundell, Edenderry, uses an air to water heat pump system with underfloor heating downstairs.

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