Be a bright spark and cut your energy bills
Baby, It’s Cold Outside goes the Christmas song goes, and, given the soaring cost of heating a home, it might be cold inside too for many this festive season. But if you’ve had enough of either sitting in the cold or stomaching a hefty bill, here are 10 steps to keep more of your money in your pocket, while keeping your home warm at the same time.
Switch energy supplier
Just one phone call could save you money this winter. Remember, when shopping around for gas or electricity, consider the price per unit, as well as the standing charge.
The ESB, for example, has one of the lowest annual standing charges available – at €125.77 a year – but cost per unit is 19.28 cent, although this can be reduced to 17.63c with an online billing and direct debit discount. This compares with 16.63c cent at Bord Gáis (standing charge of €138.79), and 16.74c at Airtricity (annual charge of €165.83).
When it comes to gas, Flogas charges just 5.108 cent a unit on its direct debit discount account, with a standing charge of €89.40. This compares favourably with Bord Gáis’ standard account, which charges 6.014 cent a unit, with a standing charge of €91.76.
Check out the www.bonkers.ie, accredited by the CER [the Commission for Energy Regulation] to compare price plans between providers. If you’re not up for the hassle of switching, make a call to your current provider and ask is there a better rate you could be on. You might do best if you opt for the same provider for both your gas and electricity.
Get savvy when heating one room
If you work from home, or if you wonder how to heat your child’s bedroom while they study and you sit cosily by the fire, then Electric Ireland has some advice. It might seem counter-intuitive, given how expensive they can be to use, but an electric fan heater could cost you as little as 19 cent an hour to heat one room.
This avoids the cost of heating the whole house, or having to run around turning off radiators before putting on the central heating (which could be a cheaper option, however). According to the electricity supplier, the key is to buy a fan heater with a thermostat, which turns off when your ideal temperature is reached. Forget to use the thermostat, however, or leave it on for long periods of time, and your electricity bill will add up.
Upgrade your windows
If you still have single-glazed windows, it may be time to make the switch as much of the heat loss from a house occurs through windows. If you can’t afford a full switch to double-glazing, which will cost upwards of €3,000 for a three-bed house, you could consider switching windows which face north first, or alternatively, opting to get just the glass replaced. Energlaze, for example, claims replacing the glass in your window with double-glazing costs half that of replacing the full windows, and could save you up to €400 a year on heating bills.
A cheaper option – which is backed up by energy experts – is to simply stretch cling film, or transparent polythene film, across your single-glazed windows to prevent draughts and stop energy loss.