Smart Consumer: Spend a little and save a lot on your home energy bills
Published 17/02/2012 | 06:00
Switching your energy provider to get the best deal is the first thing to do when looking for energy savings, but there are other changes you can make too.
According to Jim Curran of Electric Ireland, on average 60pc energy bills goes on heating, 25pc on electrical costs, and 15pc on water heating.
There are ways to save on each category, some for free, some for a small outlay and then by spending a little more.
20C is the optimum temperature for your living room. Lowering the heat by just 1C will save 10pc on your bill according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
Heat will be lost through the windows so keep the curtains closed at night. Make sure the curtains don't hang over radiators, as that will funnel the heat out of the window.
Close doors and turn off lights when leaving a room.
Switching appliances off rather than leaving them on standby will save up to 20pc on energy use.
If you're on a night-saver electricity rate, put the washing machine, dishwasher etc on after 11pm in winter and after midnight in summer, when it costs less.
Using the tumble dryer costs between 60c and 70c a spin but will cost more if the filter on your washing machine is dirty, so clean the fluff filter after each use and the condenser filter on condenser dryers every few weeks.
Heating food in a conventional oven costs seven times more than heating in a microwave.
Boiling six full kettles uses one unit of electricity (approx 18c in cost); save by just boiling the amount you need.
Spend a little
Buy a radiator panel that fits behind the heater and reflects heat back into the room, so that you're not paying for the heat to go out the wall. This will save between 8pc and 15pc in energy or up to €150 per year.
Cost: Varies depending on pack size. Approx €30 for five pack or €43 for 10 pack.
Put a screw-fitted draught excluder at the foot of the front door to stop draughts and a similar strip on your letter-box.
Cost: Approx €5.99
Stop the heat going up the chimney by installing a chimney balloon.
Cost: Varies depending on size. Approx €21.
Your fridge/freezer is always on and costs around €12 per bill. The freezer should be at -18C according to safefood.eu. If it's any lower the freezer will have to work harder and that will cost more. Buy a thermostat to make sure the temperature is correct.
Cost: Approx €1.70 for the basic kind.
If you don't have an insulation jacket on your hot water tank, you should. This could save you up to €132 per year.
Cost: Approx €16.99.
Plug draughty holes with silicon sealant (approx €20) and use adhesive insulation tape for inside windows (approx €4.99).
Although banned from production since 2009 you can still buy ordinary bulbs but you'll save with the other kinds. Halogen bulbs give a 30pc energy saving, which translates at around €5 per year based on three hours a day. CFL bulbs will save €14 a year according to Electric Ireland.
Cost: Approx €2.99 for halogen and €6.95 for CFL.
Use a time-switch to control water heating and ensure it is automatically turned off.
Cost: Between €40 and €56 (for programmable version)
Get a thermostat to control room temperatures.
Cost: Approx €50 for digital and €90 for wireless.
To help with turning appliances off fully, buy a multi-socket power- saver strip (with individual sockets) so you can take out each plug manually when not in use. Or for a few euro more, you can buy one with a remote control so that you can completely switch off each plug separately via remote control while still using others on the same strip.
Cost: Cost: €18.79 at theowlireland.com or €30.95 for remote control model at purchase.ie.
Seeing is believing: By seeing how much energy you are using and how much it's costing you, chances are you'll stick to those good energy saving habits in the effort to save some cash.
Get an energy monitor; a handy gadget that is attached to your mains supply or electricity panel and you have a wireless monitor that reads usage and cost.
Cost: The OWL electricity monitor costs €37.95 at purchase.ie or €45.99 at theowlireland.com. You can also get one with a USB stick so you can track data on your computer (€54.95 at theowlireland.com and purchase.ie or €56.99 at Argos) . If you're a new Airtricity customer (or switch plans within the company), you'll get one for free.
Thirty per cent of heating is lost through the attic but getting it insulated will prevent that.
Cost: Between €600-€1,000 for 300mm fiberglass insulation in a four bed house. Grant of €200 available from SEAI (minimum first time application must be €400).