Q: I am very interested in running both my home and business in a more environmentally friendly way. Can you provide details of any schemes or grants available to me if I choose to “go green”?
Home energy scheme (2009 )
The newly announced home energy scheme provides assistance to homeowners interested in improving the energy efficiency of their home. The aim is to reduce the amount of energy used and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the amount of energy you use should also help to reduce your energy bills.
The scheme is being run by Sustainable Energy Ireland. It is currently recruiting interested contractors to apply for registration, and once contractors have been recruited, SEI will open applications to home owners. You can register your interest at www.sei.ie and will be contacted when the scheme is being rolled out to home owners. The scheme is available nationwide and is open to all existing homeowners regardless of means. Fixed grants will be provided towards the cost of carrying out works aimed at improving your home’s energy efficiency. There is also a grant available towards the cost of carrying out a before and after Building Energy Rating assessment.
Contractors who wish to become involved in the scheme can register with SEI at www.sei.ie once they meet or exceed the technical competency requirements as set out by SEI. Before any work is carried out the contractor must be registered and the home owner should have received grant approval.
Greener home scheme (2008 )
The greener home scheme commenced in July 2008. The purpose of this scheme is to increase the number of homes using renewable energy home heating systems. Your home must have been occupied for at least one year to qualify and must already have a heating system installed.
The grants available under the scheme cover all of the following: Solar heating for both the hot water system and a solar space heating system; Heat pumps that are ground source, water source, or air source pumps; Wood chip / pellet stoves or boilers; Wood gasification boilers.
The grant given is a fixed amount based on the technology which will be installed. The maximum grant available is €3,500. The product must be chosen from SEI’s registered product list and installation must be carried out by an installer registered with SEI. As with the home energy scheme, grant approval should be obtained before carrying out any work. Applications usually take three to four weeks to be processed.
Accelerated capital allowances for companies
The Finance Act 2008 introduced a provision allowing companies to claim a 100 per cent write off for the cost of acquiring energy efficient equipment in the year the expenditure is incurred. To qualify the equipment must be on a published list available on the SEI website www.sei.ie It is initially anticipated that the scheme will run for a trial period of three years.
The accelerated allowances are only available to companies and are not available for expenditure on leased equipment or where as a landlord you fit out the building.
For the equipment to qualify for accelerated capital allowances the following conditions must be met:
A company must incur capital expenditure on the provision of new plant and machinery for the purpose of the trade.
The plant or machinery must belong to the company. It must be in use at the end of the chargeable period. It must be used wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade. It must meet energy efficient criteria and must be equipment falling within one of seven specified classes of technology.
The classes of technology and the minimum expenditure limits to be met are as follows: Motors and dives €1,000; Lighting €3,000; Building energy management systems €5,000; Information and communications technology €1,000 ;Heating and electricity provision €1,000; Process and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning control systems €1,000; Electric and alternative fuel vehicles €1,500.
Technical details of the energy efficiency criteria to be met are available from SEI.
Where the energy efficient equipment is not on the published list and does not meet the outlined requirements, the company can still avail of wear and tear allowances of 12.5 per cent over an eight-year period.
There is no requirement to obtain approval for expenditure prior to claiming the accelerated allowances. Once the company meets all of the conditions it can claim the allowances in its corporation tax return (CT1 ). The company must retain documentation and be able to satisfy Revenue in the event of an audit that it is entitled to claim accelerated allowances.
Cycle to work scheme
If you are also interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your employees you may consider introducing the new cycle to work scheme in your company.
The scheme has been in operation since January 1, 2009. Under this scheme the first €1,000 spent on bicycle and safety equipment by an employer for an employee is not subject to tax. The exemption from income tax in respect of the benefit-in-kind can only be availed of in one tax period, ie, it cannot be split between two different tax years and the relief can only be claimed once in any five-year period by an employee or director.
The employer must purchase the bicycle and it is then provided to the employees as a tax-exempt benefit in kind, ie, they do not pay income tax on its value. Alternatively employees can fund the cost of the bicycle through a salary sacrifice scheme.
The bicycle and equipment must be new to be eligible for the exemption, and the employee must agree to use the bicycle for journeys to and from work.