The Hardware Journal asked Patrick Atkinson, Chadwick’s Group CEO, What can we as a sector do to grow the retrofitting market?

The SEAI recently disclosed that 21,727 home energy upgrades, supported by Government funded SEAI grant schemes, took place in the first half of 2023. They also announced Solar SV property upgrades were up 231% and reported 31,500 new grant applications across all schemes. This is fantastic progress.

Patrick Atkinson, Chadwick’s Group CEO.

New grant options and increased grant values appear to have made a marked difference in demand from homeowners.

However, Ireland’s ambitious goals to retrofit 500,000 homes to a BER of B2 and install 400,000 heat pumps by 2030 under the National Retrofit Plan are still some way off. The stark reality is we have a long way to go.

In speaking with industry colleagues, I’m often asked what can we do as an industry to grow the retrofitting market?

Although retrofitting costs undoubtedly pose a challenge to achieving higher national numbers in Ireland, another significant hurdle lies in educating homeowners about the process.

We as an industry must recognise that homeowners are not just passive participants in this journey; they are the driving force behind it. To empower them to take the necessary steps towards retrofitting their homes, we must provide them with the knowledge, guidance, and support they need.

Recent research from the SEAI outlined the behavioural barriers which exist among homeowners to begin retrofitting their property. These included lack of awareness of the retrofitting process and a difficulty in navigating the large number of options and decisions.

Chadwick’s Group research tallies with the SEAI’s findings. Our research has found that 42% of homeowners who are considering retrofitting their homes are either unsure what would deliver the best impact for their home or don’t know where to start.

Overcoming this educational barrier is vital to realising the potential of retrofitting and expediting Ireland’s journey towards a more sustainable future.

At Chadwicks, we take pride in supporting our customers throughout their retrofitting journey. To ensure our customer-facing colleagues are well-equipped to provide guidance, we have made significant investments in their education regarding the retrofitting process.

More than 40 of our Chadwicks Group locations nationwide have seen our branch advisers’ complete courses at The National Construction Training Centre, including training on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) and Retrofitting. Our commitment extends to demystifying the product purchasing process, helping customers select materials that best align with the specifics of their projects.

In branches across the country, we have installed ECO Centres: a dedicated space within the branch showcasing the latest in sustainable building materials including insulation, airtightness, ventilation systems, heat pumps & controls, solar energy, and watersaving products.

Furthermore, we have partnered with the online platform, which empowers homeowners to explore the possibilities for their homes at no cost. is a user-friendly platform designed to provide clear and concise information tailored to each property’s unique requirements. It eliminates the psychological barrier associated with retrofitting by offering consumers a free, fully costed, step-by-step personalised home improvement plan. The plan includes an independent cost estimate for each stage, details on relevant SEAI grants, contact details for SEAI registered contractors, and projections of potential savings on various expenses.

Crucially, allows homeowners to engage with the retrofitting process without any upfront costs or registration fees. By presenting the process as a series of manageable milestones, we enable homeowners to approach their projects with enhanced clarity and confidence.

I believe that informed homeowners are better equipped to make sustainable choices and contribute to Ireland’s transition to a more energy-efficient future.

Consumers should view home retrofitting as a gradual and manageable journey. This approach allows individuals to spread the associated costs over an extended period, making it less daunting than a one-time transaction that needs to be completed within a matter of weeks.

New technologies are emerging all the time to help customers along this journey. One such example is the Hybrid Heat Pump. These cutting-edge devices are remarkably efficient, capable of generating up to three times more heat output compared to the energy they consume. This translates to substantial cost savings on energy bills, regardless of the home’s BER.

They work very efficiently with existing efficient boilers, provide most of the energy except in extreme temperatures, and the boiler is only then used to top up when necessary. However, there are no grants
available for these units yet.

As an industry, it is our responsibility to ensure that consumers are well-informed about the new technologies and various stages involved in retrofitting their homes. There should be no mystery surrounding how homeowners approach their retrofitting process.

Empowering consumers with a clear understanding of the retrofitting process is crucial to encourage them to embark on this journey. While we may not have control over which grants are awarded to whom and for what type of product, we can provide guidance to individuals, steering them in the right direction to start their retrofitting journey. This guidance is a powerful tool that can inspire positive action and contribute to a more sustainable future for all consumers.