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Energy Action is a registered charity established in 1989 with a voluntary board of directors. Over the past 25 years, Energy Action has been working to alleviate fuel poverty by providing free insulation in the homes of older & disadvantaged. This service is delivered by formerly long term unemployed people who are trained by the charity to certification standards in insulation, energy advice , BER and health and safety, thus providing them with sustainable and ecologically sound employment opportunities. As a result of this skilled, dedicated training 92% of our DSP funded Community Employment programme participants (11 of 12) obtained full time employment in 2015, mostly into” The National Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme”. Energy Action also developed the FETAC Installing Thermal Insulation and Energy Management in Domestic Building modules that has become an integral part of the delivery of the SEAI National Retrofit Programme.

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In addition to the service provided by Energy Action, the charity has also taken on the responsibility of influencing policy, to ensure proper funding would become available to support the sustainability of such projects and programmes to address energy efficiency and fuel poverty over the last 25 years. This was done by researching the Irish Housing Stock and producing several reports over the period, including Energy Conservation & Job Creation in the Domestic Sector in 1995 and ‘Homes for the 21st Century. The Costs & Benefits of Comfort Housing in Ireland’ in 1999. This report was undertaken to establish: the extent of remedial work required to bring standards of the existing housing stock up to the standards which have applied to new houses since the introduction of the ‘1997 Building Regulations’, insofar as they are concerned with insulation and energy conservation; the costs and benefits associated with such remedial works over a 10 year period. This was the forerunner to the more recent ‘Greenprint for a National Energy Efficiency Programme ( Joe Curtin) published in 2009, followed by the actual SEAI National Energy Efficient Programme launched by Minister Eamon Ryan in 2010.

Another significant report produced by Energy Action was the ‘External Wall Insulation Project’ in 2012. As a result of a successful Energy Action Fuel Poverty Conference held in Dublin Castle in 2012, Energy Action was asked by the leading experts on Fuel Poverty over the last 20 years, Dr. Brenda Boardman and Professor Christine Liddell to hold a European Fuel Poverty Conference. We held a very successful Conference in 2013, with many distinguished energy experts from Europe and New Zealand presenting.

The theme of this year’s Energy Action Fuel Poverty Conference 2015 is to discuss Housing, Health and Well-Being in the 21st Century. This will include policy-makers in energy efficiency, health, housing. Included will be the roles and responsibilities of Local Authorities as well as private and social housing landlords and tools that can be used including mapping to identify fuel poor houses, wall types etc. Energy Affordability review will be discussed along with the White Paper on Energy and questions like “what are the EU financial penalties for not achieving targets”. Hopefully, Department of Finance will build this into the future budgets for the National Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme. The impacts of health on the fuel poor will be discussed and research on the link between Dementia and Fuel Poverty be presented and ” what are Government doing to address this”. There will always be a higher incidence in rural areas, especially islands because of older, damp, poorly insulated houses that are exposed to the vagaries of wind, rain and more transport costs for fuel. Comparisons between the Western Islands of Scotland and Ireland Rural Fuel poverty will be presented. One of the most important presentations will be by two of the leading Climate change experts, who were advisors to the recent Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change. They said” the Pope’s message is highly relevant to Ireland. It is also a stark reminder that climate change mitigation should not simply involve an economist-centred approach, but one that reflects the global as well as local interests of climate justice.” Climate Change impact on the fuel poor can be addressed by energy efficiency and Government supports by funding the most energy inefficient houses , that pay more in carbon taxes because of poor heating systems and using solid fuels.

Charles Roarty.

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  1. MARTIN MAHER says: April 9, 2016 at 12:42 am

    A great conference, where I learned a lot about fuel poverty a somewhat hidden issue for most, I had some fascinating discussions with Duncan Stewart on why the climate change issue is bogged down in Ireland and Dr Anne O’Farrell on her epidemiology research. Much of what I learned will go towards my research.