Renovating? Here are seven ways to make your home more energy efficient

Global warming is affecting everyone, and we all like to feel we are doing our bit to help

A recent renovation on Fortfield Road in Dublin 6W. Photograph: Ruth Maria Murphy

A recent renovation on Fortfield Road in Dublin 6W. Photograph: Ruth Maria Murphy

 

‘Renovators are placing increased importance on energy efficiency and incorporating ‘green’ materials,” according to the 2019 UK Houzz & Home Renovation Trends Study. The study collected responses from more than 7,700 Houzz users, including about 3,800 who renovated their homes in 2018.

This result reveals a shift in priorities for homeowners when it comes to renovating their homes.

In contrast, the same results from Houzz renovators last year showed the design and function of the home as top priorities. Climate change is affecting everyone and we all like to feel that we are doing our bit to help.

Here are seven ways to make your home more energy-efficient and reduce your carbon footprint at home.

Change your light bulbs

Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs throughout your house is a straightforward and low-cost measure which will make a big difference to the amount of energy you’re using and to your electricity bills. LED bulbs use up to 85 per cent less energy, last up to 25 times longer, and are cheaper to run than incandescent lights.

Invest in a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat will learn the temperatures you like when you’re at home and then program itself accordingly. Most smart thermostats will also automatically turn down the heating when you’re away to help save energy. 

There are lots of brands available, one of the leading being Nest. A Nest thermostat is easy to use. You don’t need to program it, you simply change the temperature whenever you like during the first few days after it’s been installed. It will get to know the temperatures you like and when you want them. Then it programs itself and creates a weekly temperature schedule.

Upgrade your insulation

Making sure your home is well insulated is a guaranteed way to save energy and money. But before you embark on any kind of external or internal insulation it is very important to know how your house has been built and what level of insulation already exists so you can plan the best solution for the future. 

A good idea is to have a building energy rating (BER) assessment done to examine the energy performance of the house, accompanied by an advisory report identifying what can be done to improve performance. BER assessments should be carried out by BER assessors who have registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Watch your energy consumption

Unplug electronics when you’re not using them. Turn off lights in rooms that are not being used. New homes being built in Scandinavia are fitted with sensors that will regulate energy usage for efficiency and will be able to turn off certain appliances automatically when you leave the house. 

The interior of Fortfield Road following renovations. Photograph: Ruth Maria Murphy
The interior of Fortfield Road following renovations. Photograph: Ruth Maria Murphy

If you are keen to keep track of your energy consumption you might like to consider investing in an electricity monitor. This is a small device that will tell you how much energy you are using – you can buy one for about €65. The monitor will let you input the price of your electricity to find out exactly how much it costs you to carry out simple everyday tasks such as boiling a kettle.

If nothing else it will make you aware of how and where you are using energy and this in itself can effect change.

Upgrade your windows

Windows have a big impact on the amount of heat needed to keep a house warm, which is why fitting energy-efficient glazing can make a significant difference. On south-facing windows, you only need to upgrade to double-glazed windows but triple glazing is preferable on all other faces of the house, especially north and east facades.

If replacing your windows is not on this year’s budget, do at least try to seal up any gaps where you might be losing heat. If done correctly this small measure will make a difference to the comfort of your home, energy usage and fuel bills.

Insulate your attic

When it comes to fuel bills so much money can be saved by insulating attic spaces and replacing single-glazed windows with double glazing.

Attic spaces should be insulated to a thickness of at least 270mm. Important things to remember when insulating your attic are to make sure you insulate the pipework as well and ventilate the attic space. This is typically done by fitting vents in the soffits (the exposed undersurface of an exterior overhanging section of a roof eave). By doing this you will avoid condensation build up in your attic space.

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