in News of the World on home energy and heating

  1. ALTHOUGH I believe we’ll end the year with oil back under $100 a barrel, for now it’s hurting everybody in more ways than one. As we’ve come to expect at this stage, energy and food prices have risen as a result of oil price hikes. But that’s not where the pain ends.

A Texan oil man once told me, “Oil is absolutely everywhere, even in the shirt on your back”, meaning oil prices have an effect in the supply of almost any goods and services you can think of. Petrol prices are running high, too — in many filling stations it’s now around €1.50 a litre.

When it comes to avoiding petrol price hikes, many of us can cycle, take the bus or walk instead of driving. It’s the other big energy uses in most households — heating and light — that aren’t always so easy to cut back on. Heat loss occurs through ceilings, walls, windows and because of inefficient heating systems. Ceilings account for the biggest waste at about 40 per cent, while walls are about 35pc.

If you insulate only one and not the other, this can push heat towards the uninsulated area, so the most sensible approach is to go for both. I spoke to John Quiney. of external who said the typical three-bed semi costs from €8,000 to 12,000 on average to insulate.

“There’s a €4,000 home energy savings grant if your contractor is Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) registered, and that brings the cost down significantly,” he said. “There’s also a further tax deduction available in the following year on a spend up to !10,000 at the standard rate of 20 per cent.” Paddy Sweeney, of, agreed external-wall insulation was a great option to cut down on heating bills. “Insulated dry-lining doesn’t go the length of the building, meaning you lose heat through different spots at roof and floor level,” he said.

To get the grant, you must have the application in place before the work is carried out. If you apply online, this can be done in as little as 72 hours, according to SEAI ( Both firms say that in general they can take a building with an E or F BER (Building Energy Rating) up to C1. Windows are another big area of wasted energy in the home but, again, effective measures can be taken.

Roy Shiels of Munster Joinery said: “If you get insulation and our 0.7 U-value ‘Future Proof’ windows — which cost around €6,200, including supply, fit and removal of old windows — your energy consumption will drop by 50 kilowatts per metre squared over the course of a year. For the average house, that’s about 6,000kw hours per year.”

In regular terms, according to John Quiney: “A house that used three oil fills a year, costing €500 to €750 a time, should now only need one fill.” And for natural gas users, every €300 spent now typically falls to €120 after the work. Taking these measures is a boon all round.

Factor in lower home maintenance and a carbon reduction of about 2.5 tonnes per home and, apart from helping the environment, you’re helping yourself, too.

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