What’s Your Heating Heating? Your Guide to Energy Efficiency

Energy EfficiencyThe average Irish homeowner will spend €700 per year heating their home. In fact, heating your home and its water is the single biggest energy expense for most Irish homes. It’s also a great opportunity to save money and cut your energy usage through home improvements.

Let’s take a look at where all that energy goes and how you can heat your home as efficiently as possible.

Keeping the Heat In

An inefficient home, one that has a Building Energy Rating (BER) of ‘G’, will cost around ten times as much to heat as one rated ‘A’. In Ireland, all homes advertised for sale or lease since 2009 are required to display their BER so you may well have BER cert or at least know your home’s rating.

You might even have a detailed analysis of your home’s efficiency profile. This information will be vital if you decide to tackle a poor BER. Every home is unique, one ‘D’-rated building may suffer from poor attic insulation, while another might be subject to draughts from poorly-installed windows. Knowing where your heat is going will help you spend wisely.

Where the Heat Goes

While there will be a significant variation from home-to-home, we can still estimate heat loss per zone in the average house.

Attic/Roof
As every schoolchild knows, heat rises, so it won’t be a huge surprise that the roof/attic is responsible for 30% or so of heat lost in the average home. What may surprise you is how attic insulation can lose its effectiveness. Loose-fibre insulators will settle over time and a poorly-ventilated attic can cause insulation to become damp and rot.

Upgrading your attic insulation is generally very cost-effective, though the actual cost will vary depending on the size of your home. The results usually justify that initial outlay, on average new attic insulation can pay for itself in energy savings within around 3 years.

Walls
On average, your home will lose up to 35% of heat through its outer walls. If you have an older house with poor outer wall insulation, or no insulation at all, that heat loss will cost you a significant amount of money each year.

Unfortunately, inadequate or absent wall insulation can be expensive to remedy, but there are grants available for all BER-improvements including substantial rebates for outer and inner wall insulation.

Cracks or gaps in the outer walls can introduce a draught into your home or allow moisture to rot cavity wall insulation. Catching cracks or gaps early is a cheap and easy fix that will pay dividends.

Windows and Doors
Up to 25% of heat lost could be through your windows and doors. Single-paned windows or inadequately sealed external doors are common in older homes and will significantly reduce the efficiency of your home.

Even double-glazed windows or modern PVC doors can be rendered nigh-on useless if they are not properly installed. Cracks or gaps around fittings can easily introduce draughts and let that all important heat out.

Boiler
Your boiler’s ability to run efficiently will usually depend on it’s type and age. Newer boilers are not just more efficient by design, boilers also lose their effectiveness over time. Modern boilers have efficiencies of up to 90% - meaning they are able to output 90% of the energy they use as heat. Older boiler efficiencies can be as low as 60%. In other words, an inefficient boiler needs to use a lot more energy to generate the same heat as a newer/more efficient one.

Regular boiler servicing will help your boiler to remain as efficient as possible, for as long as possible. If you’re unsure how efficient your current boiler is, a BER Assessor can rate it and help you decide whether its worth replacing or having it overhauled.  

More Than Money at Stake

As a nation, we are working to reduce our impact on the environment and every single cent you save in energy is good news for the planet as well as your pocket.

The average Irish home consumed 18.5 MWh in 2016, generating around 9.7 metric tonnes of CO2 in the process, with 80% of that used to heat the home or its water. Improving your home’s energy efficiency will help us to push that carbon emissions figure down.

In fact, a combination of home energy efficiency upgrades and responsible personal energy use reduced the household average by 25% between 2006-2014. We are already moving in the right direction and every change you make, from upgrading insulation to turning down the thermostat, will keep pushing those emissions down.

And it will help to cut that €700 annual heating bill too.

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