An examination of energy efficiency retrofit scheme applications by low-income households in Ireland

January 27, 2022
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Apart from contributing significantly to reduced CO2 emissions, increased energy efficiency in the dwellings of low-income households can alleviate the burden imposed by higher energy costs and improve thermal comfort within the home. Aside from financial constraints, existing literature indicates that behavioural and informational barriers significantly influence the decision-making process of low-income households when engaging in an energy efficiency retrofit. In Ireland, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme (BEWHS), which provides free energy efficiency retrofits to low-income households. Nonetheless, some households who decide to engage in an energy efficiency retrofit fully funded by the SEAI abandon their retrofit applications due to non-financial barriers. These barriers are often harder to identify, and research on this topic has received little attention.

The main objective of this study is to better understand the factors associated with the abandonment of retrofit grant applications in the absence of financial barriers. Additionally, we quantify how improvements in building energy efficiency among low-income households are associated with retrofit measure type (e.g., insulation, ventilation, etc.) and building atributes (e.g., age of dwelling). Our findings provide insights for policies that are designed to increase adoption of energy efficiency measures by low-income households.