April 26 – May 30, 2024

ENVIRONMENT : Making a difference

Getting started with your home energy upgrade

what kind of advice you need. We are often asked by clients about the different assessments available and which is appro- priate for their needs. There is a lot of useful information online, particularly on the SEAI web- site. This can help you plan your upgrade and learn more before taking the first step. Once you do, it’s likely that you will need one or more of the following assessments at some stage on your journey. A Building Energy Rating (BER) is an indication of the current energy performance of a home. It covers energy use for space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting calcu- lated on the basis of standard occupancy. A BER is similar to the energy label for a household electrical appliance like your fridge. The label has a scale of A-G, A-rated homes are the most energy efficient and will have the lowest energy bills. All BERs come with a standard advisory report, with a list of recom- mended upgrades. This gives some good high level advice but no real detail on the upgrades, how much they might cost and what amount of grants might be available. By law, a BER is required when an existing dwelling is sold or rented or when a new

pump technical assessment, but it is also offered as a standalone assessment service, particularly for clients who are going down the individual grant route. The report is similar to a HEA, (it also includes an existing BER) but the TA report is a simpli- fied version, focusing on the upgrades required to make the building well enough insulated for a heat pump to work effec- tively and meet the grant criteria. Detailed advice on grants, esti- mates of the cost of the work and the anticipated fuel bill savings or usually not included. The TA service is most appropriate when you are planning to install a heat pump in a relatively modern (post 2000 date of construction) property where minimal other upgrades are required or where you feel you don’t need the extra level of detail contained within a HEA. SEAI offers a €200 grant towards the cost of a TA, but only if you proceed with the installation of a heat pump. A TA needs to be completed by an SEAI registered technical assessor. Ruairi can be contacted on

RETRO FIT Ruairi Kay


dwelling is built for sale or rent. A BER is also required to apply for certain SEAI grants and to claim back the grant funding once upgrade works are complet- ed. These are the main situations where a BER is required. If you are planning a home energy up- grade, a BER can give you some basic information on where you are now and what you can do, but a Home Energy Assessment is probably more appropriate in this case. SEAI offers a one off €50 grant towards the cost of a BER, when required to claim back any individual measure grants such as for solar panels or attic insulation grants. A BER assessment needs to be complet- ed by an SEAI registered BER

cause unintended consequences as well as ensuring no opportu- nities are missed. Recommended as a first step if you are complet - ing a whole house upgrade, even if this is done over a number of stages or years. SEAI offer a €350 grant towards the cost of a HEA, but you do need to work with a registered one stop shop to avail of this, who will organise the assessment on your behalf. A HEA needs to be completed by an SEAI registered technical assessor. A heat pump technical assessment, (TA) is required if you plan to install a heat pump and wish to apply for any of the SEAI heat pump grants. Typical- ly, a HEA would include the heat

I t can be confusing to get upgrading an old school house on the Sheepshead where he lives with his wife, son and two dogs. started with your home en- ergy upgrade and to choose Ruairi Kay is an architectural technologist, SEAI registered BER assessor and technical advisor with 20 years’ experience in Ireland and the UK, specialising in low energy design and retrofit. When he is not helping clients around West Cork through his consultancy business ‘Retrofurb’, he is gradually

A Home Energy Assessment, (HEA) includes an existing BER, but with the addition of a detailed report on your home. This outlines your current priori- ties, options and steps for a home energy upgrade, outline specifi - cation of the upgrade works and the estimated savings in carbon, energy and fuel bills from com- pleting the work. Details are also included on the various grants available, estimates of the costs of the work and advice on next steps to complete the work. The HEA gives you a pathway for your upgrade and ensures that whatever work is done now will not jeopardise the ability to com- plete further upgrade measures,

Kinsale Community School, in partnership with Transition Town Kinsale, is proud to announce the launch of its reusable cup campaign aimed at reducing single-use plastics in the school, town, and community. The project has already gained traction, with Seeds Bakery in Kinsale successfully integrating the 2Go Cup into their business operations. The campaign aims to inspire other local businesses to follow suit, further reducing the use of single-use plastics in the area.

Clochan Uisce: The old sage of the river R ecently Clochán Uisce has begun to document the flora and fauna of our hinged shell which can open and close as they need. They have as sediment deposits from bank erosion, industrial works, lower water levels from water ex-

reproductive period of approx- imately 80 years. The young mussels known as glochidia must attach themselves to the gills of salmon or trout where they stay encysted for nine months. They then drop off the gills in early summer and bury themselves in the river bed for at least five years. The river Bandon has a well established population and stud- ies done back in 2005 showed in the areas that were surveyed an abundant population with up to 75 individuals per metre squared. This may not be the case today as many pressures are on the mussels habitat such

fied as endangered. It has been around for hundreds of millions of years and is heading for extinction if we don’t do some- thing to protect its habitat. We are very fortunate to have this old sage of the river in at least two of our local rivers and we must do all that is possible to protect it and ensure that future generations thrive in our rivers. Save Murragh communi- ty group are fighting for the mussels habitat in the river Bandon: Save Murragh info can be sourced on Facebook and Clochán Uisce will be hosting an event on Sunday, May 19

in collaboration with Clon- akilty bike festival and national biodiversity week. It’s a family friendly cycle to explore the biodiversity of the river Feagle, where you will learn about the birds that live along the river and also experience kick sampling and water testing as part of the group’s drinkable rivers data collection. Meet at Emmet square at 3pm. No booking needed, just turn up.

one strong ‘foot’ which they use to burrow into gravel and sand, and a long tube like siphon which they use to filter feed. They can inhale and expel up to 50 litres of water per day helping to maintain and improve water quality. Amazingly they can live to be 140-years-old making them the longest-lived animals in Ireland. Some of the mussels in our local rivers could have been born before the 1900s! Freshwater pearl mussels have a very complex life cycle. They start to reproduce at seven to twelve years of age and have a

local rivers. The group’s aim is to get a better understanding of how each species is doing and find ways to improve their habi - tat along the river system. One such creature, which has really caught their attention and is found in the upper regions of the Ilen river and along the upper and middle sections of the Bandon river, is the fascinating fresh water pearl mussel (Mar- garitifera Margaritifera) Freshwater pearl mussels are bivalves. Bivalves are molluscs with soft bodies protected by a

traction, climate change and the decline of salmon populations which host the juveniles for the first part of their long life. A proposal for a new c.80 acre quarry in Murragh adjacent to the river Bandon will add new pressures on the existing population of freshwater mussels in that area and a comprehensive survey must be done to establish the location and numbers of mussels before any application is considered. This fascinating long lived species is under treat and classi-

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