Sinead Ryan: Hot tips to reduce heating bills... clever ways to cut costs this winter
With increases in the PSO levy and oil prices Sinead Ryan highlights some clever ways to cut costs this winter
Well summer didn't last long! Already the nights are drawing in, the kids are back at school and if you're like me, you're even switching on the heating to take the chill out of the evening.
With heating bills set to go up again (both the PSO levy and oil prices are on the increase), it's set to be an expensive winter, so what better time to get your house in order and try to cut those costs?
This week, I'm looking at tips on doing just that, along with an explanation of the State grants available for insulation and boiler replacement. Most people don't realise these are not means-tested - anyone who applies is guaranteed to get one, so it's a great time to seriously consider wrapping your house up in warmth, as you do the same to yourself.
Move the dial
- Turning down your thermostat by one degree saves 3pc on your heating bill. Twenty degrees is considered optimal but it depends on your level of existing insulation.
- Turn off radiators in unused rooms and add thermostats to radiators you do use. When the room is warm, switch off the heating; the residual warmth will continue as the radiators cool down.
- Consider fitting a 'Hive' or 'Climote' control (available from Bord Gais or Electric Ireland), so you can switch on/off heating and water remotely. If you're late home, there's no need for it to come on automatically, it's a waste.
- Use an energy efficient electric fan heater if you only need one room warm (from €24.99, Woodies); it costs around 20c an hour to run.
- Use old fashioned draught excluders, especially on external doors, either the foam/fabric type or brush. They cost around €10.
- If you can't afford double-glazing, plastic coat windows with polythene to keep rattles and draughts away. A pack measuring 157cm x 106cm costs €2.99 from Lenehans hardware and you only need a hair-dryer to fit it.
- Always use a timer on your immersion so it only heats water when you need it. Check the temperature if it's heated centrally. There's no point in having scalding water if your radiators aren't warming up.
- Bleed your radiators now to remove locked air and make them more efficient.
- Fit a de-aerator (€4.99, lenehans.ie) which stops air locks.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland pays grants for around one third of the cost of insulation and boiler works. While there are some restrictions, applications under the Better Energy Scheme are open to all and approval is instant (seai.ie).
Get quotes from approved local contractors (using the list on site); works must be completed within six months of grant approval. The table shows the maximum available across the range, which is based on the size of the house.
The only caveat is that your house was built before 2006 and you use approved materials and contractors. You'll save 20pc on your heating bills with an efficient boiler and attic insulation. Call 1850 927 000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Under the Warmer Homes Scheme, the works are carried out free of charge, but to qualify, you must be in receipt of social welfare and have a child under seven in the house. Check your local citizens information centre or call the SEAI for an application form.
Fitting solar panels could heat up to 60pc of your water, while a one square metre panel is the equivalent of 400 units of electricity. The SEAI offers a €1,250 grant toward this, but it is a big undertaking, so get good advice before starting.
Any building alterations to your home (including fitting new windows) qualifies for a VAT refund under the Home Renovation Initiative.
A word of warning though: if you receive a grant from the SEAI, the amount is tripled before the rest of the spend qualifies.
It may be better to do one or the other. Ask your contractor for advice before commencing.