Image 10 ways to heat your home for less
Image Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

With energy and heating costs often a financial strain for households, everyone should be looking for the most energy-efficient and cost-effective ways to heat their homes this winter. So here we take a look at 10 ways to heat your home for less.

Making changes to your home heating doesn't have to be an onerous task. In fact, it's surprisingly easy to conserve energy, save yourself some money and help to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time - all in a day's work!

You might have your own tips and tricks to help make your home more energy efficient, but so do we! And with approximately 60% of the energy used in Irish homes going towards heating it, these tips could go a long way.

From short-term solutions to those requiring a long-term investment, take a look at our list and see the changes you can make today for some financial savings tomorrow.

1. Draught-proof your home

As much as you might not like to admit it, your mammy is (always) right: “Close those doors, you’re letting an awful draught in!”

Draught-proofing your house is a quick and easy win when looking to improve your home's energy efficiency. By checking keyholes, doors, windows and open fireplaces for incoming draughts of cold air, you can effectively tackle heat loss and keep the heat where you need it.

Fixing seals on doors and windows, or purchasing a chimney balloon for your fireplace are all inexpensive ways of keeping the cold air out and the hot air in. Draught excluders (like those sausage shaped bean bags) are also great for putting under doors.

Closing curtains in the evening can also help keep the heat from escaping a room through the windows. However curtains should generally be kept open in the morning and during the day time to maximise natural daylight and heat.

If you can’t identify the source of a draught yourself, you can always call the experts in. For around €300 or so a surveyor, engineer or energy auditor can do an air tightening test using a smoke gun to check where air is entering a house. 

2. Install radiator reflectors

Radiator reflectors are both a clever and inexpensive way of stopping heat being lost from your radiators. Reflectors function by, you guessed it, reflecting the radiator’s heat back into the living space instead of it being lost to the wall or window behind.

Reflectors are rolls of foil or thermal wrap and can be bought for as little as €6 from hardware stores around the country and reduce heat loss by up to 35%. What’s more, radiator reflectors are very easy to install and can be cut to measure.

As well as radiator reflectors, another simple way to prevent heat loss and increase energy efficiency is by ensuring your hot water tank is properly insulated. A tank with a proper lagging jacket can reduce heat loss by over 75%. As well as this, make sure any exposed pipes have fitted insulation too! It can be surprising the noticeable difference it makes to both your energy consumption and your pocket.

3. Bleed your radiators

Trapped air in radiators stops them from working efficiently. If there are cold spots on your radiators, particularly at the top, it's a sign they need bleeding. This releases the air and ensures your heating system is working to its full potential.

4. Optimise your central heating system

With the advent of smart technology, controlling your home’s heating has never been easier, what with the availability of devices like the Nest, Climote, Hive and Netatmo.

With these devices you can programme your central heating and your water to come on at specific times throughout the day to fit your routine, ensuring you’re not wasting energy needlessly throughout the day. For example, if you’re stuck in traffic after work and will be an hour late getting home, you can easily set your heating to come on later for you.    

Everything can be done via an app on your phone, meaning you can control your heating from anywhere there's an internet connection really.

Some of the devices are also clever enough to pick up on your energy consumption habits and create a personalised schedule for you, helping you save even more money.

5. Upgrade electric storage heaters

For those not in the know, you could probably guess that storage heaters function by storing heat. Importantly, the heat is generated and stored at night and then gradually released during the day, so electricity is used while on cheaper night-time rates.

But for many, the heaters currently in use are seriously outdated and are not nearly as energy-efficient as the newer models currently available are. And with energy prices on the rise, now is as good a time as ever to make the change.

By upgrading to a less costly heater with a better energy rating you could save yourself some serious money on your home heating. 

6. Mind where you put the furniture 

It's important that any sources of heat, whether it be the radiator, the fireplace, or storage heaters aren't blocked by furniture.

Large TVs, couches, bookshelves, or Christmas trees (if it's that time of the year) should never be placed right in front of a heat source if possible.

Getting on board the services of an interior designer could be a good way to reimagine your living space in a way that doesn't block the heat. 

7. Install a Heat Pump system

'Heat pump system' is one of the most bandied about phrases when it comes to renewable energy these days but a lot of people still seem to be unsure of how they work or even what they are. 

A heat pump works by converting energy from the air outside your home into heat. It works in a similar way to how a fridge extracts heat from its inside and keeps things cool. Heat pumps instead use a compressor to draw heat from the air outside and then use it to heat your home and your water. However the remarkable thing is that they can extract heat from temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

Heat pumps are an extremely efficient alternative to fossil fuel heating systems and are a great way for consumers to save on their energy bills as well as reduce their carbon footprint.

In general the better insulated the property, the more economical a pump is to run, and they're not recommended for very poorly insulated homes. They also work best in households that like a constant, comfortable room temperature - heat pumps aren't good at heating up a home very quickly to a very high temperature in a short space of time.

For anyone considering this option, you'll be glad to hear that a Heat Pump grant is available from The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is one of the largest bursaries available. A pump for a three-bedroom semi-detached house can cost between €8,0000 - €12,000 so the grants available will come in very handy.

See here for more information on the full range of grants available from the SEAI.

8. Upgrade your gas boiler

If your boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it with a new, more efficient model. Depending on your old boiler type and house, you could save up to €400 with a new A-rated condensing boiler – which uses less energy to produce the same amount of heat!

9. Install solar panels

You're more than likely aware that solar panels have become more and more prevalent in Ireland over the past two decades, noticeable now on roofs in both built up and rural areas. What you might not be aware of is that when we use the term 'solar panel', it's often used as a catch-all term for solar-generated energy.

There are generally two types of solar panels you can install in your home: solar thermal panels and solar PV (photovoltaic).

Solar thermal panels heat air and water, while solar PV panels generate their own renewable electricity in the form of DC current, which can then be used to power electrical appliances in your home.

Solar thermal heating systems can meet 50-60% of your overall hot water requirement over the year, while a solar PV system can save you between €200-€300 per year on your domestic electricity bill.

You might question the reliability of solar panels since we're not exactly living in the land of the rising sun. However you'll be glad to know that solar energy works by converting light energy from the sun, meaning they can work even on cloudy days.

For those considering installing any of the above solar panels, most of the works will take place outside the home so disruption to your daily schedule will be minimized.

However, a pre-works survey does need to be carried out first before anything can begin and this will quickly tell you whether solar panels are right for you and how many should be installed etc.

Similarly, grants from the SEAI are also available and are well worth checking out.

10. Switch energy supplier

Finally, if you're looking for ways to heat your home for less, then switching supplier is the easiest way to do it.

All the suppliers offer great discounts to those who switch, meaning you could save hundreds on your heating bills in just minutes. Just head to our energy comparison calculator and start your switch today

Consider all of your savings options

As economies reopen post-pandemic, inflation is on the rise worldwide and Ireland is no exception. With prices increasing, many consumers are looking to save money on monthly bills. We’ve compiled a list of blog posts that can help you reduce your monthly expenses.

Let’s hear from you

We’d like to hear some of the ways you economise and conserve energy to heat your home. Let us know some of your energy-saving tips in the comments below.

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