• Enrate
  • Blackberry Lane
  • Delgany
  • Co. Wicklow
  • 085-1359151

Fully accredited and
registered with SEAI

 

Energy & Money Saving Tips
 Free tips; the Enrate list of Top Tips for the householder

You can easily knock 20% off your electricity bill and even more off your other fuel bills by adopting a few of these simple ideas...

Check your tariffs

It is worth shopping around to save money on your energy and telecom bills. Further discounts may be available when you use the same supplier for two services eg gas & electricity, or when you pay by direct debit, receive bills in electronic form or agree to read the electricity meter yourself and forward the reading by e-mail. You may choose to obtain your electricity from a “green” renewable supplier which generates the electricity using wind turbines. Even when staying with your existing supplier, check the available tariffs periodically. Whenever a better tariff is advertised for new customers, contact your supplier to ensure that you are included or you may be left paying the higher rate. Remember that as a longstanding, loyal and uncomplaining customer, you may be “rewarded” with the most expensive tariff.

Appliances

When purchasing kitchen appliances such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers and washing machines, opt for a more energy efficient appliance. An EU Energy Label should be displayed (A to G on a scale) for all new appliances in order to help you make a choice. "A" is the most efficient and "G" is the worst guzzler of energy. This is similar to the BER system of rating residential dwellings.

If your off peak electricity is billed separately at a cheaper rate, it may be possible to arrange timed immersion heater, washing machine and dishwasher usage. In the future “smart" digital electricity meters will allow everyone to avail of variable off peak tariffs. Watch out for pilot programs or trials which will allow you to obtain one of these.

Kettles

Only heat the amount of water you really need , but if you're using an electric kettle make sure you cover the element. More modern kettles have no visible element so you use less water. You could also try to fill a cup and use it as a guide to fill the kettle. In that way you only boil the right amount of water.

Cooking

The microwave uses about a quarter of the electricity that a conventional oven would use. Use lids on pots and pans while simmering.

Fridges/Freezers

These are often the most hardworking appliances in the home. Avoid putting warm or hot foods in the fridge, let them cool down first. Don't leave the fridge or freezer door open, this means the fridge uses more energy to cool itself back down because of the cold air lost to the room. Defrost freezers regularly; they use more power when heavily frosted and also have less usable space. Also check that the warm coils at the back of an older fridge are not accumulating dust and that air can circulate there. If heat cannot transfer from the coils easily, then energy consumption can increase by 30%. This will cost you an extra €30 per year.

Tumble Driers

Tumble driers are energy guzzlers so try to use outdoor washing lines (solar powered clothes driers!) Don't put very wet clothing into the dryer; make sure you wring clothing out or spin dry it to help use less energy.

Washing Machines

One full wash uses much less electricity and hot water than two half loads. Experiment with washing clothes at a lower temperature. You may have to change your washing powder; check the back of the box for recommended temperatures. Pause the machine for a few hours shortly after starting it, allowing the clothes to soak in the washing powder solution. This will make whatever wash you use more effective.

TV, Stereo & Computers

Switch off your TV, DVD, computer and stereo at the wall socket. Also look around for unnecessary chargers permanently plugged in; for example chargers for mobile phones, rarely used cordless drill tools and hand held vacuum cleaners. Also check for computer games consoles, forgotten bread and coffee makers, expired air fresheners and any unnecessary items that are permanently plugged in. Appliances on “standby” can use from 10% to 90% of the electricity that would be used by the same device in normal use.

Chimneys

Replace any open fire (efficiency up to 30% ) with a glass fronted solid fuel stove (efficiency 60% or more). It will look just as good. The efficiency is the percentage of fuel going to heat your house or hot water.The rest of it goes up the chimney.

In the case of an unused fireplace, reduce the effective internal diameter of the chimney flue liner down from the standard 200mm by closing it off and fitting an adjustable vent at the chimney opening. This will reduce heat losses due to excessive draught. Leave a minimum opening of 3500 square mm (achieved by having a proprietary adjustable vent grille in the open position) in order to satisfy ventilation requirements. If there is already a wall vent in the room, the chimney vent can be left in the almost closed position. If the fireplace is to be retained for occasional use, fitting a "chimney balloon" can reduce unwanted draughts when it is not in use. Some older fireplaces have a chimney damper fitted. This is a metal plate which slides out at the mouth of the chimney to reduce the size of the opening.

Ventilation

Passive vents occur as a 10cm (4inch) diameter hole high up on the walls of habitable rooms (ie any bedrooms, living rooms and the kitchen) They can be found in most of the more modern houses which were built from the 1980's on. These houses had good draughtproofing in the doors and windows as part of their original specification, so they needed an alternative means to provide a slight background ventilation. If you plan on upgrading the windows in an older house which lacks wall vents, you can still get adequate passive ventilation by asking for trickle vents to be incorporated into the window frames, which can be done at no extra cost.
Kitchens should have an extractor fan vent in addition to a passive vent. Bathrooms only need one vent, but it should be a fan vent instead of a passive vent.

If you have the very common plastic louvre type vent covers fitted on the wall vents, it is advisable to remove them and replace them with adjustable slider-type vent covers, except for those in a room containing a combustion appliance (eg a fire or a gas boiler) A room containing a flueless gas fire should have one or more extra wall vents near to floor level for extra safety. An example of a "flueless" gas fire would be a mobile "super-ser" type containing its own gas cylinder, or it could be a fixed type, which has the appearance of a standard fireplace, and is attached to a fake chimney breast in the room. These extra vents can set up an unpleasant cold draught, but they should not be restricted unless the flueless gas fire is permanently disconnected. Any fumes from a flueless fire go directly into the room, so building regulations require a higher level of ventilation in the room at all times, just in case somebody lights the fire.
In other rooms, such as the bedrooms, the passive vents should not be blocked up entirely, but in winter and particularly in windy weather they can still let an excessive amount of cold air into the house. In this situation the passive vents (and any trickle vents built into the window frames) should be restricted on the windy side of the dwelling. In milder weather they can be reopened to the maximum.
If a stale or musty smell is detected on entering a room, then the room needs more passive ventilation. A room with inadequate ventilation will be more susceptible to mildew and black mould growth on the walls and ceilings.

  • Better ventilation can prevent mould and mildew while making the room colder.
  • Better insulation can prevent mould and mildew while making the room warmer.
  • Grants are now available to improve insulation.

Draught proofing

Use sticky backed strips of draught proofer to eliminate excessive draughts from older doors and windows. More modern double glazed windows and doors will already have draught proofing incorporated, (don’t try to “improve” it!)
Seal up any holes made where pipes are passing from the internal heated area to external cold areas. Check for example the copper pipes going up through the ceiling of the hot press into the attic, and any plastic waste pipes going through the external wall in the bathroom and underneath the kitchen sink. A tube of silicon rubber sealant, as available in any DIY store for around a fiver, is ideal for this job.

Heating

Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV)

Learn about the heating controls: Turning the thermostat down can cut your heating bills. 18°C is considered standard with 21 °C for the living room or sitting room. You can also save on running costs by heating your home for less time if you are not there during the day, particularly if it has low thermal mass.

Curtains: At night pull the curtains to stop heat being lost through the windows. Take care not to drape curtains over radiators as this will funnel heat past the cooler windows. Protruding window boards can help direct the heat up around the curtains.
 



Light bulbs and Low Energy Lighting

If you use a particular light for an average (summer & winter) of four hours or more a day, then replace it soon with an energy-saving (low energy) equivalent. Whenever other bulbs blow, replace them with a low energy equivalent. Make sure to disconnect the electricity first.

CFLs or compact fluorescent lights use around a quarter of the electricity and some will last 10 times longer, resulting in annual savings of around €12 per bulb. This saving is for 60W standard bulbs left on for 4 hrs per day for example the hall, kitchen and living room. Some older model CFLs may take a minute or two to reach their full brightness so they won't be ideal for some situations, for example the bathroom. Also the colour of the light produced is less "warm", so they may not be suitable for a room painted mainly white. Check the colour temperature on the box before buying; anything less than 3000K is described as warm white. Above 3000K the light is described as cool white or daylight, but often seems more like moonlight!
Cool white lamps have the advantage of being more efficient though; they will be brighter for the same wattage. They are good in outside light fittings. 

The least energy efficient lights commonly used are the groups of 50 watt downlighters recessed into a ceiling, particularly if it is an upstairs ceiling. This is because lots of small lights are less energy efficient than one large one. Five of these in a ceiling will gobble 250 watts but will give off less overall light than one single 100 watt standard tungsten bulb. Also they require a flow of air to prevent overheating. In the case of an upstairs ceiling (or any ceiling in a single storey construction) the installation instructions normally specify the removal of a piece of attic/loft insulation directly above the light. Air is then drawn up through the light fitting by convection into the attic space, to prevent the fitting overheating. As a result, warm air is constantly being sucked out of the room. If you replace this type of light with a cooler running LED equivalent, you can place an upside-down clay flowerpot or a proprietary cover over the fitting and then safely replace the missing fibreglass insulation.
 

Energy saving bulbs

There are a wide range of energy saving bulbs on the market now, including replacement bulbs for ceiling downlighters; GU10 (mains voltage) & MR16 (12volt with transformer) and even the 500w outdoor halogen security lights. Mostly these are either CFL or LED. The brightness (expressed in lumens or candela) and price of low energy lamps varies quite a bit.

Other kinds of low energy lights include the normal linear fluorescent tubes (as commonly used in offices ) and metal halide (the very bright lights in shop windows) but these both require a special light fitting. Unlike CFL’s they cannot be fitted into your existing light fitting. They will however prove longer lasting than CFL’s.

Halogen bulbs have been around for a long time and are now often sold as “energy saving bulbs”. They look very similar to standard tungsten bulbs, but are about one and a half times brighter for the same wattage. In other words, they use two thirds of the electricity. For the purposes of the BER survey, any bulb using a quarter or less electricity (compared to a standard tungsten bulb) is called Low Energy Lighting, and helps towards a good BER result. Halogen bulbs are not counted as low energy lighting for the purposes of BER, although they are still more efficient than a standard bulb.

The original linear “bulb” in an outdoor security floodlight is halogen. If you replace a 500 watt halogen that stays on for half an hour, with a 300 watt or 150 watt halogen and reduce the running time to 3 or 4 minutes, it will still be very bright and you will have made a very cost- effective improvement. If the light is to be left on all night, and intense light is not really required, replace the halogen "bulb" with a CFL or LED version.

LED’s (light emitting diode) are the energy efficient future of lighting. These lights often consist of numerous small diodes (like tiny bulbs) crammed into one single "light bulb". More expensive spotlight LED's have one large diode which is similar to a standard spotlight bulb in appearance. The latest generation of LED is called SMD (surface mounted diode).The light source in these lights is a small printed circuit board. Instead of a tiny bulb, the LED appears like a yellow paint spot. Most SMD LED light fittings have an array of these yellow spots mounted on a flat plate.
Generally speaking, LEDs use about one tenth or less of the electricity compared to an equivalent traditional tungsten light bulb. The colour of the light is either a warm or a cool (daylight) white. Coloured LEDs are also available; in blue, yellow or red.

People are often reluctant to pay the higher price for energy saving bulbs, but they generally pay for themselves within a year. A good plan is to phase out any of the older type bulbs by replacing them with LED versions as they blow. The LED versions will last much longer, and use only one tenth of the electricity.

Example; A house or apartment has 10 halogen downlighters recessed into the ceilings. Each bulb is a 50 watt GU10 type, so 500 watts in total. A typical light is reckoned to be switched on for an average of 3 hours per day, taking into account the difference between summer and winter. At 18 cent per kilowatt unit of electricity that works out at €99 annual running costs for these lights. (365 x 3 x 0.5 x 0.18)

The householder replaces the halogen bulbs with 5 watt SMD LED bulbs, such as the GU10's in "warm white" version from "The Long Life Lamp Company" available on amazon.com for about €7. The annual running cost of the lights is now only €9, and there is a saving of €89 each year from then on. The new bulbs pay for themselves before the end of the first year.

There are only a few situations where it makes sense to retain the older type light bulbs. If a light is rarely switched on, such as in an attic, there is little point in paying out money for a low energy version. It is also important to remember that CFL and LED bulbs are not compatible with standard dimmer switches. They will flicker and fail prematurely, or else not work at all. There are special LED's available which can be dimmed, but the dimmer switch itself is a special newer type called a trailing edge dimmer switch. A good compromise in this situation is to replace the bulbs in the other rooms, keeping the old bulbs as spares for lights in the room with the dimmer switch.

Finally, task lighting is a good idea. If you are reading or sitting at a computer, turn off the main room light and use a small desk lamp instead.

more details on energy efficient lighting

Domestic Hot Water (DHW)

Scalding hot water is a safety hazard. For most people, setting the hot water cylinder thermostat to approximately 60°C is fine for bathing and washing. Make sure to disconnect the electricity before attempting this. It is inadvisable to reduce the temperature in the cylinder below 60°C because of the risk that bacteria which like warm water (ie. Legionaires Disease) could take up residence in your pipes.

A lagging jacket or two should be fitted unless factory fitted insulation (foam) is already present. You can pack old towels, jumpers or surplus blankets around an existing lagging jacket to increase the insulation, but keep the thermostat area clear or its readings will be affected. The thermostat area is the flat round plate at the top where the white electric wire is connected. Good cylinder insulation can save around €90 per year.

Pipe insulation (easily available from DIY stores ) should be taped to all the hot pipes emanating from the cylinder, for a few metres at least. As the length of pipe distances from the cylinder itself, this becomes less important.

It may be beneficial to install an immersion timeswitch in conjunction with the original switch (marked on/off sink/bath). This will be most effective where the hot water cylinder is poorly insulated, or when you have off-peak electricity tariffs available.

Grants are available for installation of better heating controls. Ideally, the living areas should be on a separate heating zone to the bedroom areas, which would be heated less. If you have the option of using your central heating boiler to heat DHW (via a coil in the cylinder) then this is normally the more economical method, compared to using standard day rate electricity. In this case you can simply switch off the immersion and keep it in reserve.

Larger Investment Options

The following higher cost options will in the longer term repay their investment costs for existing buildings, and should always be considered for a new building project. Those interested in new-build projects should research info on Passive Houses.

Passive House - Basic Information

Passive House - Detailed Information

Passive Solar Design

 

In the case of an existing dwelling where renovations and improvements are being proposed, we offer an advisory service, whereby the property owner obtains a Before & After BER with a Detailed Recommendation Report.

Grants

Grants available under the Better Energy Scheme are for upgrading boilers and improving insulation in existing dwellings. If you wish to avail of these grants to the value of €400 or more then you can claim back an additional €50 towards your Enrate BER assessment.

Boilers

When replacing an old oil or gas boiler (typical efficiency from 60% -70%) get a high efficiency condensing boiler, (efficiency greater than 90%).
Also get improved controls for the heating system. Grants are available for these. Fuel bills for the heating system can be reduced to anywhere from two thirds to half of what they were before. A 93% efficient modern condensing boiler can save about €600 a year in fuel. It will cost about €3000.

Insulation

Attic Insulation
Upgrading attic insulation is the easiest and most cost effective way to improve heat retention in your home. 100mm of insulation was commonly installed in the past but nowadays 300mm is standard. This is a fairly straightforward job for DIY or your local handyman. For an upgrade, another extra layer can be rolled out on top of the original insulation. If using rolls of fibreglass or rockwool, try to get the first layer of insulation level with or just above the top surface of the wooden joists. Normally the 1200mm wide roll should be cut into two or three pieces with a panel saw before opening the plastic wrapper. This will provide mini rolls of either 600mm or 400mm to fit the standard joist spacings. Afterwards use a sharp garden shears for trimming the ends and other pieces off, when fitting the rolls.Then for the second layer, roll out the full 1200mm wide rolls. On completion of the job, the joists will no longer be visible, so care will have to be taken not to put a foot through the ceiling afterwards! A safe boardwalk to the water tank must be provided for the use of any personnel servicing it. A properly draught proofed attic hatch/door can be achieved by applying a proprietary sticky-backed draught strip, and some insulation can be fixed to the top side of the door too. Grants are available for this where attic insulation is combined with other grant eligible work being done by SEAI approved contractors. Attic insulation on its own is too small a job to qualify for the grants process.

Wall Insulation
Insulating the walls of an existing building is complicated. Sometimes cavity wall insulation can be pumped in. Alternatively the inside face of the wall can be "dry lined" with insulated plasterboard called thermal liners. The most energy efficient solution is to wrap the the wall outside with external insulation which is then plastered. Obviously this would change the appearance of the building and it will push out the external dimensions by about 15cm, so it is not for everyone . Contractors are currently gaining expertise in this process, and in the future it is likely to be the way for owners of older houses to comply with increasingly strict standards, and thereby achieve a good BER rating. More information is available on wall insulation in the useful information section of this website. Grants are currently available.

Download Kingspan Leaflet about U-Values and Insulation

Windows

Get double or even triple glazing. Newer types will come with Low-E coating, have wider cavities, and be filled with argon gas. A plastic cavity spacer is warmer than a metal one(pictured here, it is the silvery coloured strip between the glass panes). All of these factors go towards making the U-Value of the window. Always find out the U-Value before purchasing; the lower it is the better. It must be less than 2 to meet current standards. When replacing windows, ask to have adjustable "trickle vents" built-in to the frames (for better ventilation) unless the rooms already have wall vents.

South Facing Conservatory

It can heat the house using sunshine to provide "solar gains", when the weather is right. There should be a door separating it from the house, and the wall between it and the house should be insulated as per normal external walls. This is to avoid heat loss at night and during inclement weather. It may be possible to combine a conservatory with a "Storm Porch" at the design stage.

Storm Porch

Build an enclosed porch area of greater than 2 square metres onto the main entrance to the house, arranged such that someone pushing a child in a buggy could close the outer porch door before opening the inner door. This will achieve a reduction in heating bills and will also guarantee an improved BER rating.

Heat Pumps

Can be considered for a complete overhaul of the heating system. Operating like a kitchen fridge in reverse, their electricity consumption is relatively low because they transfer heat from outdoors instead of generating it. They heat the water in the heating system to a lower temperature (40°C) as compared to a normal central heating boiler (80°C) so they are best suited to a well insulated dwelling or one incorporating underfloor heating. For comparison, a standard plug in electric heater will produce 1 Kwh of heat for each 1 Kwh (unit) of electricity consumed. A heat pump can produce 4 or more Kwh of heat for each 1 Kwh electricity consumed. 

Heat Pump Buyers' Guide

Heat Pump Leaflet

Wood Pellet & Wood Chip boilers

Fuel is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels but availability and storage must be considered. Finely chopped wood chips or pellets are used as fuel. Dry storage space for at least 3 tonnes of fuel is recommended. 

Wood Pellet Stove Leaflet

Wood Pellet Boiler Buyers' Guide

Solar Panels & Wind Turbines

These will always give an improved BER rating because of their zero carbon emissions, although careful research as to the cost effectiveness of the various systems available is advised. Solar can be considered for a south facing roof. Most solar panels have a fluid circulating through them which heats up, and the heated fluid then in turn heats an extra large hot water cylinder in the house. Savings of around €300 per year for water heating can be expected for an average household with about 4-5m2 of solar panel on the roof. The evacuated tube type is more efficient than the flat plate type. Changes will also have to be made to the hot water storage cylinder to allow for the solar input. The whole system can cost from €2500 to €5000 installed, but a grant is available.

PV or photovoltaic is a different and less common kind of solar panel. PV produces electricity, and unlike solar heating, is not connected in any way to the plumbing system. PV panels are like scaled up versions of the solar panels commonly seen on desktop calculators or the small moveable garden lights. There are no grants for PV at the moment, and their current cost is unlikely to justify the amount of electricity produced. However, there is huge potential for PV as advances in manufacturing technology bring down the production costs and make it feasible to incorporate PV into building structures. PV roof tiles can already be used instead of slates on                                                                                                                  a south facing roof. The vast size of the collecting area produces significant power in this situation.

Domestic Wind Turbines
A small domestic wind turbine could be fitted as high as possible on a windy site. This is known to as microgeneration, and you will need to have a smart meter installed by the ESB. There are no grants available currently for the installation of wind turbines, except for the SEAI pilot scheme, but ESB Networks offer some limited incentives which involve buying back any surplus electricity you might generate.

For more detailed information on wood pellet, solar, heat pumps and wind energy see the SEAI website under renewables

Solar Panels Leaflet

Solar Panel Buyers' Guide

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About Us

Enrate was founded in 2009 by Clive Dalby to provide an energy rating service for residential dwellings. With over 20 years experience in construction and a particular interest in the emerging renewable "green" technologies, Clive is well placed to advise on how best to make the cost effective improvements to your property which will save you money. Sales and marketing are handled by Eithne Dalby. Enrate is fully accredited and registered with SEI, and a member of the BER Assessors Association of Ireland.

We are committed to providing a quality impartial service which will address the individual requirements of each client.

The Enrate promise; Your time is valuable; we will always get there for an appointment.

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Privacy Policy

Any information submitted by you will not be shared with any third party, except for data collected pertaining to a completed BER assessment which will become the property of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) which is the issuing authority for BER Certificates. The BER result or grade only (being represented by a letter on a scale of A - G) which appears on the BER Certificate and the advisory report will be published on the SEI National Database and will be accessible to the public on the SEI website.