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How to energy check your home

Homeowners in Ireland are often looking for ways to control energy bills, without making huge sacrifices. Are your energy bills creeping up despite your best efforts to keep an eye on the thermostat? Is that draught at the back of your neck when you watch TV all in your head, or is it really there and you just can’t find it to fix it? If you’re looking for new ways to be more efficient with your home heating oil and energy at home, here’s a few tips on how to energy check your home with a simple energy check assessment.

 

  • Find those draughts

 

It’s not enough to just check around the window for cold spots – when you are energy checking your home and locating draughts, you need to be vigilant, ruthless and search everywhere. Obvious draught spots include doors, windows, letterboxes, but have you also checked gaps along your floorboards and skirting? What about the extractor fan in your bathrooms? A handy trick is to light an incense stick in each room and watch the trail of smoke to quickly detect those air leaks, and caulk them fast.

 

  • Light it up

 

If your home is still using traditional light bulbs instead of energy efficient alternatives, then your energy check will never be satisfactory as these light bulbs waste up to 90% of the electricity used as heat instead of light.  Lighting can account for around 10% of energy bill, so wouldn’t it make sense to change this one small thing and start seeing the rewards straight away? You won’t notice any difference in your lighting, but you will start to see those savings.

 

  • Insulate the attic

 

The attic or roof space access is normally located in the landing of your home, and if it’s not properly insulated up there and around the access opening it can be a noticeable energy drain in the cold weather. Your attic insulation needs replaced when it starts to crumble or has become too thin, and make sure you have a seal around the attic hatch so that it closes tightly and doesn’t let any draughts through. You should also take a look at any pipework in the attic too and make sure it’s well cladded or insulated.

 

  • Appliances and electronics

 

When you energy check your home, make sure you review the biggest energy drains in terms of appliances – normally your fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher. Upgrading your appliances to the highest energy efficiency rating might cost slightly more initially, but you’ll see the energy savings over the long term. If you can’t upgrade your appliances just yet, consider changing how you use them – could you wash your dishes in the sink on alternative nights? Would a shorter washing cycle still keep your clothes clean? Make sure you also unplug electronics when not in use – we’re all guilty of leaving our phones on charge all night.

 

  • Your water heater needs attention to

 

If you use home heating oil to heat your water supply at home for a shower or bath, you need to ensure that you’re insulating the hot water tank with a special insulating jacket. You should also experiment with the water temperature – could you turn it down a few degrees without anyone in the house noticing the change? If so, you can save yourself some money in the process too.