There are many cost-effective ways to save on your heating bills

IT is also important to think about conserving energy in our homes, and there are many cost-effective ways to save on heating bills.

At the Ploughing, when looking into energy conservation for the home, there was no better place to start than at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland stand. SEAI was set up by the government in 2002 as Ireland’s national energy authority. Their aim is to transform Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy.

Grants for the insulation of our homes are available from the SEAI under the Home Energy Saving Scheme (www.seai.ie), including a list of approved contractors who will upgrade your home heating.

In Munster, one of their registered contractors is TKA Insulations. Barry O’Donovan of TKA first got interested in energy conservation in his own home.

“About seven years ago I was having a discussion with my wife about all the money that was being spent on fossil fuel to keep the house warm. Coming from a building background, I decided to explore all the different products on offer in an effort to reduce our heating bills, and we decided we’d look to the future and go for solar panels. Our first summer with the panels was particularly warm, and we had nine months of solar activity without any backup from the immersion or any type of fossil fuel. It put me thinking that if solar was good enough for us it can be good enough for other people. So we then began to advertise it along with our building business.”

So when contacted by someone concerned about heat loss in their homes, what’s the first thing that you do?

“After meeting new clients, we go through their home with them, and identify areas where heat is being lost. Then we give them an idea of what can be done to improve the energy rating of their home. After that, it’s really down to the budget.

Where is work generally needed?

“One of the most common areas of heat loss in the home can be around windows and doors. From there, we would look at the walls. By examining the wall cavity via the meter box, we will get a good indication as to the depth of a cavity, and whether there is part insulation or not. Once this is assessed, the wall cavity can be pumped with bonded beading, and this will have a dramatic effect in the heating of a home.

But what about homes without cavity walls?

“On solid walls, exterior insulation has proved very popular. Alternatively, interior dry lining can be done, however this may present a problem if square footage in the house is already tight. Attics are another place where heat loss can occur. Many people would have attic insulation, possibly of a thickness of 100 millimetres. It is recommended that you put in a minimum of 300mm or a maximum of 400mm of insulation. However, and this is very important, in an attic, along with insulation you need ventilation, which is vital to keep condensation at bay. An attic that is well insulated can become very cold. Last winter for example, where people had their houses very well insulated but didn’t have ventilation, water pipes froze and this led to a lot of problems.

“And right up to the chimney pot, energy saving can be made. Where people are burning a lot of fossil fuel, coal and so on, there is a possibility of knocking between a third or half off your coal bill by putting in a chimney enclosure, which helps the chimney to draught properly, by stopping the outside world from sucking the life out of your fire and money out of your pocket.”


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