Tackling energy poverty in residential care homes in Ireland

With the ever rising energy costs, addressing energy poverty is of critical importance. Discover more about this best practice in Ireland!

Tackling energy poverty in residential care homes in Ireland

In 2023 there was a great emphasis placed on addressing energy poverty within the residential sector. Energy poverty refers to a situation where certain individuals or communities face challenges in accessing affordable, reliable, and modern energy services. While Ireland is a developed country with a well-established energy infrastructure, energy poverty can still be an issue, particularly for certain demographic groups such as elderly or low-income households.

The South East Energy Agency completed deep retrofits on 15 properties at the Holy Ghost Residential Home in Waterford City as part of the Irish SEAI Community Energy Grant scheme. The centre provides residential centre for elderly tenants, providing a service of supported self-care, with all tenants classified as living in energy poverty. The Holy Ghost Residential Home was built in the 1970’s and was in drastic need of energy upgrades, the homes were cold, draughty and also had mould on the internal ceilings and walls.

Numerous surveys were completed which resulted in energy audit reports provided for each of the residential units. This highlighted the specific measures required to reduce the buildings energy consumption and carbon emissions, but also to improve the thermal comfort of the tenants post works.

A fabric first approach was used, firstly upgrading walls, roof, windows, and doors. The airtightness was improved to reduce draughts, then mechanical ventilation was installed to remove stale air and provide fresh air into the home. Renewable energy incorporated in the project included heat pumps, Air to Water heating systems with fully integrated heating controls and solar PV.

All units had a Pre BER rating of C, E, G or F. Following the deep retrofit all units have received an A BER rating. The deep retrofit works completed have thus led to a huge improvement in the energy efficiency of the homes, raising its elderly tenants out of energy poverty and improving their comfort and health.

South East Energy Agency, Energy Engineer, Colm O’Mahony said: “With the ever rising energy costs, addressing energy poverty is of critical importance. By deploying efficient and renewable energy solutions, we empower communities to break the cycle of poverty, fostering economic growth, education, and healthcare. This not only improves quality of life but also aligns with our global responsibility to mitigate climate change. As energy engineers, we play a key role in designing and implementing solutions that uplift underserved populations, promoting a more equitable and sustainable world”.

This best practice is extracted from our publication ‘Sustainable Regions in Action‘. Discover more best practices here!