Sweeney Architects

Get your energy costs under control

Are your home heating costs too high, do you get a shiver every time you get a refill of oil, buy a bag of coal or look at your electricity bill?

We are going to look at heating and energy costs in your home, some renewable solutions and BER certs. On a very practical level, there are a number of inexpensive ways to help you reduce your heating bill such as making sure your heating system is in good working order and taking the time to understand how it works.

In a cold winter people tend to turn off their heating unnecessarily where their water pipes are frozen. Many domestic heating systems in Ireland work on a closed system and so would not be affected by frozen water pipes. So it costs nothing to ask whoever installed your heating system how it works.

Other simple methods would include draught proofing snakes and strips that are easy to fit and help to prevent heat loss, thick curtains can give further insulation by trapping a layer of air from windows, while really heavy curtains work well on external doors.

If you have radiators beneath your windows, make sure the curtains don’t hang in front of them. Ideally, your curtains should only reach just below the windowsill to allow the heat from the radiators into the room. Remember to turn down your heating rather than opening a window when a room gets too hot.

In some cases, it is worth investing in keeping your toes warm, like in a couple of rolls of insulation, making sure there is insulation in every portion of the ceiling and every outer wall. For example by insulating your attic well, you can save up to 20% on your home heating bill. If your attic insulation is currently less than 200mm, then you should add further layers. There are a variety of suitable materials, including; mineral wool, rock wool, sheep’s wool, polystyrene, cellulose fibre and multi-layered foil. According to Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), the addition of a simple lagging jacket on your hot water cylinder will keep water hotter for longer and pay for itself in 2-3 months.

The Government is encouraging private householders to optimise their home heating systems in an effort to save money, save heat and save the environment. The Home Energy Saving (HES) scheme provides grants to homeowners who are interested in improving the energy efficiency of their home. The scheme is open to all owners of existing houses built before 2006. SEI administers the scheme. www.sei/Grants/Home_Energy_Saving_Scheme/

Grants will be provided to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements in the following areas; roof insulation, wall insulation (including cavity wall, internal dry lining or external insulation). You can also get grant aid towards the installation of high efficiency oil/gas fired boilers including heating controls upgrade. It is important to note that to avail of the grants an energy rating (BER) must be completed before and after the remedial works.