Energy Efficiency - How To Save Energy At Home

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Making our homes as energy efficient as possible is key to lowering household energy bills, while also having a positive impact on our environment. Retrofitting our homes with modern insulation, upgrading our windows, modernising our heating systems and installing renewable energy sources such as solar panels are important factors in improving our homes energy efficiency.

What Does It Mean to Have an Energy Efficient Home?

Energy efficiency refers to the idea of using the least amount of energy possible to perform a task. Simply put, no excess energy is wasted while performing the task.

In the context of home energy efficiency, this refers to a concerted effort to reduce energy consumption while also aiming to avoid wasting any excess energy.

This is particularly important in Ireland due to our climate and commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Energy efficiency is the key to heating our homes while also reducing our impact on the environment.

Why Is Home Energy Efficiency Important?

The importance of home energy efficiency cannot be overstated. The need for a concerted effort both from individuals and state to reduce our carbon emissions is one that will take priority for years to come.

Striving to make our homes as energy efficient as possible not only has a direct impact on the environment, but also a number of other benefits, including:

  1. Lower Energy Costs - Efficient homes require much less energy to run, and the effect of this can be seen in the reduction of annual energy bills.
  2. Health Benefits - Well insulated and temperature regulated homes are much healthier for occupants, particularly during the winter months where cold, damp homes with poorly insulated windows can lead to health problems for occupants.
  3. Property Value - The lower running costs of energy-efficient homes makes them a much more valuable property, and one that will increase in price the more energy efficient it is.
  4. Environmental Impact - Needless to say, the benefit to the environment home energy efficiency offers are clear as it helps to reduce our overall carbon emissions and in turn have a direct, positive impact on climate change.

What Factors Influence How Energy Efficient My Home Is?

Low energy consumption combined with proper temperature regulation, prevention of heat loss and microgeneration of energy are the hallmarks of energy-efficient homes in Ireland.

The factors that influence this can be summarised as the following:

  • Building Material
  • Heating System
  • Ventilation
  • Renewable Energy
  • Smart Technology
  • Lighting fixtures

Let's take a look at them in more detail.

Building Materials

The quality of building material in your home will impact directly on its energy efficiency. Well-built homes that use high quality materials along with proper insulation of walls, roofs, and floors are much better at regulating and containing heat, meaning less energy is wasted heating and cooling the house.

Heating Systems

Heating, both in terms of water and central, is one of the most energy intensive tasks you will have in your home with up to 60% of a home monthy electricity bill consisting of heating. The efficiency of boilers, heat pumps, and other heating appliances also have an impact on the energy efficiency of a home, given how much energy they consume.

Ventilation

When heating and cooling your home, the quality and effectiveness of ventilation will have a direct impact on the efficiency of your home. Proper ventilation prevents moisture build up and the loss of heat during colder months, and the need to overuse heating systems to compensate for the heat lost. This can be achieved by upgrading windows and doors so that heat isn't easily lost from the home.

Renewable Energy

As Ireland continues to move away from an overreliance on fossil fuels towards more renewable sources of energy, the integration of solar panels, wind turbines and other renewables reduces household's dependency on the national grid as homeowners can microgenerate their own electricity. The more self-sufficient a home can become in terms of energy production, the more energy efficient it will be.

Smart Technology

As energy efficiency becomes more and more important for homeowners, investing in smart technology can have a sizeable impact. Digital thermostats for accurate heat regulation, smart plugs to manage home appliances and energy-efficient lighting such as LED bulbs all contribute towards lowering a home’s energy consumption.

Keep reading to learn how you can make your home more energy efficient and make the necessary upgrades and improvemnts mentioned above!

How is Energy Efficiency Measured?

A Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate rates your home's energy performance on a scale between A and G. A-rated homes are the most energy efficient, while G-rated are the least energy efficient.

A BER assessor visits your home and collects information on the following in order to provide your home with its energy rating:

  • Wall, floor, and roof insulation
  • Windows and doors
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Ventilation
  • Solar panels or other renewable energy installations
  • Lighting fixtures

Following the assessment, your home will be given its energy rating along with an advisory report that will offer some practical advice to increasing your home's overall energy efficiency.

The cost of a BER assessment ranges from €100 to €300 depending on the size of your home and is required for homes that are being rented or sold so that potential buyers or renters are aware of its energy efficiency.

As part of the SEAI grant scheme, the cost of a BER assessment is covered.

What Can I Do To Make My Home More Energy Efficient?

While improving your home’s energy efficiency can be costly, the cost benefit in terms of future energy bills makes them a worthwhile investment. Here are some of the options available:

Insulation

Given that the demands heating has on a home’s energy consumption, combined with Ireland’s mild temperate climate, adding or upgrading attic, wall, and floor insulation significantly reduces heat loss and with this, the need to use excess energy to compensate for the heat lost through walls and roofs.

  1. Attic insualtion is perhaps the most important area of your house to insulate given the fact that heat rises. Insulating your attic with good quality material can help trap heat in your home that would normally escape through the roof
  2. Cavity wall insulation is a very effective way of insulating the space between the interior and exterior wall of your house. There are options available for homes that have a single wall but can be more expensive
  3. Floor insulation prevents the cool, moist air from the ground below your house from entering your home ensuring that all sides of your home are well insulated

Learn more about how to insulate your home by visiting our insulation page and see what options are available for you and your home.

Window Upgrades

More heat is lost from a home through old or damaged glass than any other material. This is according to a recent guide from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland which estimates that given the same area of window and wall, the window will allow up to 8 times more heat to escape.

Upgrading your windows to modern double or even triple glazed panels will ensure that your home doesn't lose any unnecessary heat, thus reducing the demands on your home heating system to try and maintain a comfortable temperature.

Our guide to the grants available for windows and doors will answer all your questions when it comes to making your home more energy efficient.

Heating System Upgrades

Keeping our homes warm, especially during the cold, Irish winters, will always be number one for any homeowner and on average, up to almost 80% of an annual home energy bill is composed of space and water heating.

Modern heating systems such as heat pumps and condenser boilers offer high efficiency alternatives to traditional oil and gas heating.

  1. Heat Pumps work by converting the air from outside your home into useable heat inside your home. They are very efficient and also environmentally friendly with little to no carbon emissions.
  2. Condenser boilers work by utilising the lost energy from an oil or gas boiler, mainly steam, and redirecting it to heat the water in your boiler. In this way, no energy is lost, and your water is heated more efficiently.

We have dedicated pages to both heat pumps and condenser boilers where you can learn more about how they work and what options are available.

Solar Panels

Solar and wind power are at the forefront of Ireland’s drive towards energy self-sufficiency, with home solar panels becoming more and more popular. As of 2023, almost 60,000 homes in Ireland have had solar panels installed.

Solar panels can offset your energy consumption or even directly serve as a source of energy for heating your water.

Through The Micro-Generation Support Scheme, homeowners who produce excess energy from solar panels can actually sell their excess back to their provider, helping to reduce the need for fossil fuels to power the national grid.

While the initial cost of instillation may be a disincentive, the long term savings on energy bills are well worth considering.

Solar Panels Ireland

We have several articles dedicated to solar panels in Ireland, including information about how you can avail of SEAI grants to help towards their instillation.

Behavioural Changes

It goes without saying that retrofitting your home with insulation, solar panels, triple glazed windows etc, is not within everyone's budget, but there are some more inexpensive actions you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

Here are our 5 top tips for cheap and practical energy efficiency practices

  1. Turn off the radiators in rooms you don’t normally use and close the doors. Don’t waste energy, and money, by heating rooms you are not going to be in.
  2. Purchase a draft blocker and place it in front of doors that lead outside so no heat escapes.
  3. Use electrical tape to seal up gaps and cracks in windows. Not the prettiest solution but definitely an effective one.
  4. Invest in energy-efficient products such as air fryers, microwaves and pressure cookers to replace energy hungry appliances such as ovens.
  5. Go back to basics and make sure to turn off and plug out appliances you aren’t using. Small actions can lead to big changes.

Are There Any Government Grants Available?

There are several government schemes available to help homeowners with the financial cost of upgrading their homes to be more energy efficient.

The majority of grants available are managed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and offer the following schemes:

  1. Better Energy Homes Scheme - a scheme for homeowners and landlords who want to do certain energy upgrades and manage the process themselves.
  2. Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme - a scheme for people on low incomes that provides free home energy upgrades.
  3. National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme - a scheme for homeowners, landlords and approved housing bodies (AHBs) who want to bring their homes up to a BER rating of B2 or above using a private company to manage the project.

Under the Better Energy Homes scheme, you can get a grant for:

  • Attic insulation.
  • Wall insulation - including cavity wall, internal dry lining and external insulation.
  • Heating controls upgrade.
  • Solar thermal solutions.
  • Solar PV panels.
  • Heat pump systems.
  • A Building Energy Rating (BER) after the energy-saving work is carried out.

Important!

This scheme does not cover windows and doors, or the replacement of gas or oil boilers.

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Do I Qualify For An SEAI Grant?

To qualify for an SEAI grant, you must first:

  • Be the owner of a property built and occupied before 2011 for insulation and heating control systems.
  • Be the owner of a property built and occupied before 2021 for heat pumps and renewable systems such as, solar thermal and solar PV grants.
  • Use a contractor from the SEAI’s registered list.
  • Use newly fitted materials and products.
  • Have work done that meets the required standards.
  • Get a BER after the works are done using a BER assessor from SEAI’s National Register.

How Do I Apply for an SEAI Grant?

To apply for an SEAI grant, you can either,

  1. Apply for the grants and manage the contractors and process yourself.
  2. Use an SEAI registered company (Home Energy partner) to apply for the grants and manage the contractors.

Interested in learning more about energy efficiency and how to cut down on your energy bills? Check out our energy saving page here at Selectra.ie to learn more about how you can be a more efficient energy user and save money on your home energy bills!

The services and products mentioned on this website may only represent a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra encourages you to carry out your own research and seek advice if necessary before making any decisions. We may receive commission from selected partner providers on sales of some products and/or services mentioned within this website. Our website is free to use, and the commission we receive does not affect our opinion or the information we provide.

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