(8 February 2022) Reacting to the Government agreement to an €8 billion retrofit programme, aiming to bring 500,000 homes to B+ energy ratings, Celine Clarke, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action said “We welcome the fact that this programme for government commitment is a step closer to implementation as climate action is urgently needed but we need it to be in the spirit of climate justice. The home retrofit programme is going to take at least eight years to deliver its promise to retrofit half a million homes. But older people need help with their energy bills now, as energy prices went up by 27% in 2021 and are expected to rise further. That is why Age Action has called for a new energy poverty strategy, to include new measures to use carbon tax revenue to fund energy payments to every older person who cannot afford rising energy costs”.
Clarke said “There are nearly 400,000 households headed by a person aged 65 or older, at least 40% of which are a person living alone. One in 50 (2%) of these households has no central heating, and nearly one in seven (13.7%) relied on burning coal or peat for heating. Half of older person’s homes (49.4%) use oil as their primary heating fuel, and a further quarter (25.9%) use natural gas. One study found that 45% of older persons (60+) lived in properties with a BER of E, F or G, rising to 57% for people aged 75 or older. Based on this, practically all homes with a BER of E, F and G are likely to be occupied by people aged 60 or older, meaning that older persons are especially at risk to energy price hikes”.
“Studies show that most housing with a poor energy rating of E, F or G are occupied by older persons, who are often unable to afford expensive retrofit programmes. It is essential that this State programme is designed in consultation with older persons to meet their needs, and is fully accessible to the two-thirds of people aged 65+ who are digitally excluded. We also know from experience of previous home insulation schemes that some older persons were unable to access them due to hidden costs involved in preparing an application. The new scheme needs to be thoroughly poverty-proofed” said Clarke