BRRR for poorly rated BER council homes

by Rose Barrett
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housing house rating

Cllr Angela Donnelly recently submitted a motion calling on Fingal County Council to address the need to fit its housing stock with better insulation, given the horrendous bills facing residents for energy costs.

The SF Cllr for Ongar LEA asked Fingal’s Chief Executive to report on plans to bring their housing stock up to B2 or better energy ratings across Dublin 15.

FCC reported that 92 homes were retrofitted in 2022 under the council’s Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme (EERP) and while Cllr Donnelly stated FCC actually have the highest upgrade rates in the county, “the work is just too slow.”

She added: “I understand we do not have a magic money tree, but I believe Fingal County Council as a landlord, has an obligation to ensure its tenants live in comfortable homes.

“When I see the money that is spent in other areas, it makes my eyes water, we have people – many elderly – suffering right here in our communities and we should help them.”

The SEAI* (Sustainable Energy Association Ireland) and gov.ie both encourage homeowners to seek out SEAI grants and have attic and wall insulations carried out to reduce energy efficiency and costs, typically with A,B and C ratings greatly reducing costs, while homes rated D-G are far more costly to heat.

It would seem that council housing stock have overall poor stats for effective BER ratings. We must acknowledge that a sizeable number of social housing predates the 1960s and many were built in the 70s-90s.

A spokesperson for FCC confirmed that currently Fingal has BER ratings for around 2,330 only of its 5, 500 properties.

“Of these, 1,585 have BER rating between A-C; the remainder have BER ratings of D-E. FCC plan to carry out improvement works to a further 150 homes, mainly those of the elderly.

For South Dublin County Council’s housing stock of 9,737, the unknown BER stats account for 4,936 homes. Only 472 have an A BER rating and 436 with a B rating; 4,214 in the C category (43.3 per cent) and 4,228 with a D rating (43.4 per cent). Less than 400 homes in SDCC stock are E rated and higher.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has approximately 4,900 properties; there are currently 545 Council owned properties with a BER rating of B2 or higher (135 of these have been retrofitted in the past two years under the EERP) – circa 11 per cent of DLR’s total housing stock.  

“An additional 1,376 properties have a BER rating between C3 and B3. This is about 28 per cent of our housing stock. These properties would require minor/modest works to bring them up to B2” said a DLR spokesperson. DLR, SCCC and FCC all verified they will continue to increase the number of properties to be retrofitted under the EERP over the coming years.

Dublin City Council were unable to respond prior to the Gazette deadline.

Burren Court

Last October and November, the Gazette overed the plight of several pensioners living in Burren Court, Poppintree, Ballymun.

One of them, a 62-year-old John Smith (not his real name) lives with COPD and multiple health issues, along with finding the damp and dreary conditions very oppressive and depressing.  Four elderly residents recounted horrific experiences of living amidst damp, cold and invasive fungus. 

Before and after Christmas last, DCC housing department staff came out and insulated the residents’ attics but sadly, John claims it hasn’t made any difference to heat retention and damp.

“I now have mushrooms on the windows, it’s unbelievable,” said John. “When there was frost, we had frost inside!! The problem is the old windows, glass and doors and we’ve been told that it’s too expensive to replace these.”

Annie McCormack (71) has lived in Burren Court for almost ten years. “I only have to open the bedroom door, and you can smell the damp!  I’ve been complaining for years. The walls are just plaster boards, there is no proper insulation, and it’s Baltic cold.”

Most of the residents are aged from 62 up to 85 years of age and radiators and showers are run on gas.

“They  cost a fortune to run. It’s like all the single pensioners have just been fired in here and forgotten about, left to freeze in the damp and cold of Burren Court.” 

*For apartments, SEAI €700 grants are available up to €1,500 for detached houses, depending on size. Cavity wall insulation similarly grants are available from €700 (apartments) up to €1,700 for detached homes. There are further dry lining wall grants and house ‘wrap’ grants, all of which will greatly reduce home energy bills.

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