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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Low Cost Loans For Warmer Homes

 

The Government has today launched a new low-cost Home Energy Upgrade Loan Scheme.


The €500 million Scheme is the first of its kind for both Ireland and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and will play a crucial role in helping homeowners to invest in energy efficiency, making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run.


I welcome the scheme which opens to today and will allow homeowners to borrow €5,000 - €75,000 on an unsecured basis for a term of up to 10 years.

 

This Government of Ireland Scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the EIB Group.

 

PTSB is the first financial institution to offer loans to homeowners under the Scheme, with rates from 3.55%. AIB, Bank of Ireland, Avant Money and seven credit unions from the Irish League of Credit Unions (Clonmel, Connect, First South, Listowel, Naomh Breandan, North Midlands and Progressive) are finalising the approval process and legal requirements to provide the Scheme and are expected to commence offering loans in the coming weeks.

 

With more lenders and increased competition in the market, it is expected that rates will be extremely competitive, offering consumers more choice and value. Rates will be significantly lower than those currently on the market because of the combination of an EIB Group loan guarantee and a Government-funded interest rate subsidy. The loans will help lower the financial barriers encountered by homeowners, making home energy upgrades more accessible and affordable.


This is the final piece of the jigsaw of home retrofitting. It answers the problem for those households, above the income threshold for free energy upgrades, but who don’t have the savings to be able to do the scale of the retrofit that they would like.


At the moment, most green home improvement loan interest rates hover between 6% and 7%, with other personal loan rates ranging up to 14%. As an additional bonus, households could also qualify for a lower cost green mortgage in the future after they use their low-cost loan to improve their BER (Building Energy Rating) rating up to the required level.

 

The loans can be used by homeowners who want to undertake a deep retrofit involving several energy upgrades at the same time or to carry out one or two upgrades that will significantly improve the energy performance of the home. In order to avail of the low-cost loans, the upgrade projects musts be supported by an SEAI grant and be projected to achieve a minimum 20% improvement in the energy performance (BER) of the building.

 

Homeowners will apply for the loans through the participating finance providers. There will be no requirement for the loan to be secured against the property being upgraded (as is the case with a mortgage). Once approved, the loans can be drawn before works begin. This gives certainty to homeowners that they have the funds for the planned energy upgrades as well as any up-front costs or milestone payments. This is often identified by homeowners as a key barrier to upgrading their homes.

 

Those most at risk of energy poverty can continue to avail of fully-funded energy upgrades under the Warmer Homes Scheme. The availability of low-cost loans will make it easier for those above the eligibility threshold to upgrade their homes.


This is a win-win scheme; Homes will be healthier, warmer and more energy efficient, and the savings householders can make in utility bills will help cover the cost of the loan


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