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Regulation needed to prevent energy poverty: SVP

By Ann Marie Foley - 06 October, 2015

svp energy efficiency

There is no specific provision in Irish laws for improving the energy efficiency of private rented accommodation, according to a new study commissioned by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP).

“One consequence of the gap in legislation is that many households in energy poverty do not own their own dwellings and are therefore less likely to benefit from measures designed to enhance the energy performance of dwellings,” said John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy.

The term ‘energy poverty’ refers to families or individuals who are unable to afford heat and other energy, like electricity, to ensure adequate warmth, light and other needs.

The EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions estimates that 54 million European citizens or 10.8% of the EU population were unable to keep their home adequately warm in 2012.

In 2014, SVP research revealed that energy poverty is caused by several factors including low income, and living in homes with poor energy efficiency.

So the charity commissioned this study “Energy Efficiency of Rental Accommodation in Ireland” from McDowell Purcell Solicitors through the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA).

The study says that while there has been support by successive Governments for the promotion of energy efficiency in homes owned by families and individuals, the policy is not working for low income families as they live in rented accommodation.

Specific legislation is needed to ensure that there is energy efficiency in that private rented accommodation.

“While improved energy efficiency will not take those families with inadequate incomes out of energy poverty, it will make a big difference to their budget, the comfort levels in their homes and will enhance their health and well-being,” said John-Mark McCafferty.

The report noted that under the Government’s Construction 2020 programme there is a working group, which will investigate the feasibility of introducing minimum thermal efficiency standards for rental property.

svp John-Mark

John-Mark McCafferty said that this new study also highlights that there needs to be greater co-operation between the Departments of Environment and Social Protection with the Department of Energy, to make sure that people on low incomes can afford energy.

“There also needs to be appropriate incentives to provide positive change for tenants, viable tenancies for landlords, while securing both the supply and affordability of such housing,” he said.

The report also pointed out that Ireland has an obligation under the Kyoto Protocol to ensure it achieves energy efficiency. The European Union Target is energy efficiency of 20% primary energy savings by 2020.

The full study is available at: http://www.svp.ie/EnergyEfficiencyRentalReport

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