With energy prices rising across the board, consumers 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 six 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 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 rubber seals on doors and windows, or purchasing a chimney balloon are all inexpensive ways of keeping the cold air out and the hot air in. You can also avail of an insulation grant from The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to help save on cost.
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 or during the day time to maximise natural daylight and heat. Re-arranging furniture to optimise natural light can also be helpful for homeowners with larger living spaces.
2. Install radiator reflectors
Radiator reflectors are both a clever and inexpensive way of mitigating energy loss from the heat generated from your radiator. Reflectors function by, you guessed it, reflecting the radiator’s heat back into the living space instead of it being lost in 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 can account for up to a 35% reduction in heat loss. 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. Optimise your central heating system
With the advent of smart technology, controlling and maintaining your home’s energy efficiency has never been easier, what with the introduction of devices like the Nest, Climote, Hive and Netatmo.
However, you don’t need these ultra-modern applications to help conserve heat energy in your home. All you have to do is abide by the law of ‘heat it when you need it’. This involves programming your central heating system to come on to fit your routine, ensuring you’re not wasting energy needlessly throughout the day.
Tailoring and timing your energy usage for allocated times, such as just before you come home from work or before you get up in the morning should help considerably when curtailing the demand on your home heating.
4. 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 calculated while on night-time rates.
But for many, the heaters currently in use are 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.
5. 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. But it's really quite simple.
A heat pump works by converting energy from the the air outside your home into useful heat energy. 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 useful 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.
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 - €10,000 so the grants available will come in very handy.
6. 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 utilities 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, which we have a surprising abundance of!
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. There are however some assessments that have to be made in the planning stage, conducted through a pre-works survey, and this will inform where and how your solar panels will be installed, depending on your needs.
Similarly, grants from the SEAI are also available and are well worth checking out.
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.