Power through winter with an energy efficient home
With winter just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to prepare your home for the cold months ahead. Follow our ten easy steps to keep your home toasty and efficient
1. Energy source
Choosing an energy source that’s right for you can save you money and make life more convenient during the winter months. Natural gas is a great way to heat the house in winter as it’s fast and efficient and will heat your home quickly. It’s also great to be able to set your timer and have your home warm and inviting when you arrive in after a long day. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available and it can help improve your home’s energy rating too. Switching to natural gas can also offer savings of up to 70 per cent.
2. Use the most efficient appliances
Make sure any new appliances are energy efficient. You can tell the efficiency of an appliance by looking at the labels and tags or discuss options with the sales assistant. It’s especially important to do this with bigger purchases such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.
3. Draught-proof your home
This will take a little bit of time but go around your house or apartment, checking for places where cold air sneaks in. Windows and doors will be the main sources of most draughts but also check places like the attic or basement. Be sure to close everything properly and that windows and doors are sealed. Chimneys can also be a source of drafts so if you never use your fireplace, plug and seal it but be careful not to block up vents. It’s a good idea to install insulating blinds or thick, lined curtains too.
4. Use natural light
Surprisingly, we get quite a lot of sun in winter and when it shines brightly in the sky make sure to open all curtains and blinds in order to allow that lovely natural heat through. You may not feel much heat from the sun when out and about but it will certainly heat the house by a couple of degrees. As soon as the sun goes down, or even before, close all blinds and curtains to retain the heat.
5. Adjust the thermostat and radiators
You might be tempted to turn the heating up high when the temperature drops but one great way to save on heating costs is to keep the thermostat at room temperature. Today's high efficiency condensing central heating gas boilers achieve an efficiency of over 90 per cent. They are also cleaner, producing 18-20 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than the most efficient oil boiler. Many properties also have radiators that can be adjusted, so one room can be fixed at the highest setting whilst in another, it can be switched off all together.
6. Install a natural gas fire
Modern gas fires come in a variety of styles and do not always need a traditional brick-built chimney to be installed, but can be customised to your room. With instant, real flames a natural gas fire is a great, clean alternative and are highly efficient compared to other fire types. Some models can even be programmed to turn on before you come home, offering a wonderful feeling of welcome when you arrive back each evening.
How often do you leave phone chargers plugged in or televisions on standby? Probably quite a lot. There are now so many gadgets around the home and many are using energy even when switched to standby or are plugged in but not charging a device. It can also be quite dangerous to leave these items plugged in for long periods of time as they can overheat, so remember to unplug everything before bed.
8. Use less hot water
Everyone likes a long, hot bath from time to time but filling the tub to the top is costly. Short showers and smaller baths can save on the bills. You can also save when it comes to washing dishes or doing laundry. Whenever possible, use a cool cycle when washing clothes that aren’t very dirty. You’re also being kinder to the environment by doing this. Dishwashers are generally more energy efficient than hand washing - just make sure the dishwasher is full before you switch it on.
9. Turn off lights and use LED bulbs
No one is suggesting you should sit in complete darkness or read by candlelight but ask yourself, how often lights are left on around the house when nobody is using that particular room? Make sure to switch off a light when you leave a room. You can also switch to energy efficient or LED lights, which are long lasting, meaning you won’t need to change them as often. Make sure Christmas lights are also LED as the cost of running these can really add to the electricity bill.
10. Tumble dry
Tumble drying clothes can be very tempting in winter and putting laundry on a line on a blustery, dry day will help to keep bills down. However, with our rather wet climate, that’s not always possible and a natural gas-powered tumble dryer is the next best solution to drying your clothes. Tumble dryers use a lot of energy but studies show that gas tumble dryers are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than most. A gas dryer can result in energy savings of over 65 per cent, compared to an electric dryer.
To find out more about the benefits of natural gas, see gasnetworks.ie