Thursday 21 September 2017

Energy proof your home and make big savings

Want to keep your household bills under control? Tom Halpin of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers some advice

The cold snap we experienced over the last few months may be making you concerned about your upcoming heating bills. The good news is that, according to Tom Halpin there are a number of steps you can take to both improve the energy efficiency of your home and save money.

"You can always start by breaking a few bad habits which may not make a huge difference on your next bill, but you will reap some benefits over time. For example a large proportion of the population leave their electrical appliances plugged in or on standby when not in use.

"But if you want to start really reducing your energy bills it's time to start a new habit. It's a great idea to get into the habit of setting your heating system timer to come on 30 minutes before you get up in the morning and to power off an hour before you go to bed in the evening. Your home will still be plenty comfortable but doing something as simple as this is likely to save you up to €100 a year."

If you want to make greater savings, there are other measures you can take to reduce your home's energy consumption. While these will initially require some investment, they should pay for themselves over a relatively short period of time. Two ways of doing this are to upgrade your heating system and insulate your property well.

"While most homes do have insulation in their roof they often do not have an adequate depth of insulation" says Tom. "This can cause excess heat to escape through the top of the house. I recommend that people have a depth of 300mm / 12inches of insulation in their attic. By insulating your attic correctly you could save as much as €200 per year. There are also a number of options available for insulating your walls depending on your wall type and your budget"

A good way to offset the costs associated with more expensive projects is to avail of one of the grants offered by the SEAI.

"You can get grants for a number of improvements such as insulating your walls and attic, installing a new high efficiency boiler and controls, or introducing solar heating into the home.

"Inefficient heating systems can tend to be the biggest energy drain for most households," says Tom. "The reason is simply that older oil or gas boilers tend to operate at around 70 per cent maximum efficiency. By upgrading your boiler you can achieve efficiencies well above 90 per cent. Good heating controls will make sure that the heating is on when and where it is needed and at the right comfort level. When upgrading your existing oil or gas boiler you may qualify for a grant of €560 under the SEAI's Better Energy Homes scheme."

It is important to note that one of the conditions of obtaining a grant from the SEAI is that you get a Building Energy Rating (BER) cert after you've upgraded your home. The BER gives an indication of the energy performance of a property utilising a ranking system from A1 to G, with A1 being the most energy efficient and G being the least. A BER cert will set you back €150 but you can apply for a grant of €50 towards the cost of the cert.

It is estimated that the average home loses 20 per cent of its heat through the windows. Over the years the technology of double glazing windows has improved dramatically and led to the development of highly energy efficient windows and doors. By upgrading your windows from single to double or triple glazing you not only keep the draught out but reduce your heating bills by dramatically reducing the heat-loss through the glass.

To find out more about the grants available or the savings you can make by upgrading the energy efficiency of your home log onto www.seai.ie or call 1850-927000

Irish Independent

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