Generating a brighter future for Mullingar
10 top tips to save you money this Winter on your energy bills
With energy costs at an all time high and possibly set to rise further over the coming months, it will be a very difficult winter ahead for many Mullingar households who will find it very hard – maybe even impossible – to pay for the energy and fuel they need. Our last column showed that almost one third of Irish households are experiencing energy poverty, with that figure rising fast. These price increases could see many Irish households paying over €2,000 more for energy over the next 12 months than they did in 2021, with the real pinch coming over the winter months.
Unfortunately we don’t have any control over what the energy and fuel companies charge for electricity, oil and gas, but we can control, to an extent, how much electricity and fuel we use. Using less energy saves money.
On average, electricity now costs 43 cents per kilowatt hour used which is almost twice what it was last year.
About 60% of the energy we use at home goes on heating, with 20% for heating water and the remaining 20% on our electrical appliances, including lights.
The following are the top-10 low-cost and no-cost energy saving tips that you can make in your home right now to help you save money over the winter ahead.
- Switch your energy supplier
Despite the rising energy costs, you can still save up to €200 a year or more by switching to a different energy supplier. Check out how much you are being charged for a kilowatt hour of electricity and compare it to what other suppliers are charging. Switching is really easy because your new supplier will do all the work for you. Check out comparison sites such as Switcher.ie, Bonkers.ie and PowerToSwitch.ie.
Also know how to read your electricity bill and know what rate you are currently paying. The following is a sample bill explaining what the various parts are.
Source: Electric Ireland
17: Price Plans – this is the price you are paying per unit of electricity. Depending on your price plan, this can differ for daytime, nighttime and the peak period from 5-7pm in the evening. This is what you should compare with other suppliers when you are shopping around.
18: Your meter reading.
19: Unit usage multiplied by Unit price.
20: Standing Charge – this is a fixed daily cost on your bill no matter how much electricity you use.
21: PSO Levy
22: Carbon emissions produced as a result of your energy usage for this period.
- Turn off your appliances when not in use
Even on standby, appliances such as TVs, laptops and desktops, games consoles, set-top boxes and mobile chargers, all use electricity when not in use. A TV on standby could be costing you between €30 and €40 a year at current prices. Switch them off at the socket when not in use.
Only use your dishwasher when it’s full.
- Turn your heating down a degree or two
Heating makes up to 60% of our household energy costs each year so addressing this can really save you money. Turning your heating down by one degree could shave 10% off your bill. Turning off radiators in your hall, utility room and other seldom used and non-living spaces, can also save you money without reducing your comfort levels. Many of us have our houses too warm. 20 degrees Celsius is a comfortable temperature for living spaces in any house. Anything above that is a waste.
- Look at where you’re losing heat from your house
Gaps under and around doors and around windows mean that you’re losing heat and creating draughts. Rubber seals can be purchased cheaply in all hardware shops, or place rolled up towels at the bottom of doors to prevent heat loss.
Don’t hang curtains over radiators because most of your heat will be funnelled straight out the window instead of into the room.
An open chimney that’s not being used is an escape hatch for heat. Purchase a chimney balloon in any hardware shop to prevent heat loss.
- Review your attic insulation
Check to see if your attic is well insulated. Rockwool is the most common type of insulation used in attics. *Over time it can deteriorate and lose its effectiveness. Investing in a few rolls of it this winter to top up your attic insulation could make a big difference to how much you need to spend on heating.
For attic and cavity wall insulation you can get a grant from SEAI that covers up to 80% of the cost. The full list of grants available can be found here: seai.ie/grants
- Cook efficiently
Think before you pre-heat. You only need to pre-heat an oven for baking, but not for roasting meat or heating food, despite what you will be advised in the cooking instructions! Even better, if you have an air-fryer, a slow cooker or a microwave, use them instead of your main oven as they use a fraction of the energy of a conventional oven.
Defrost food before cooking it by placing it in the fridge or on the countertop.
- Check your fridge temperature
Set your fridge temperature to between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius and your freezer at -18 degrees Celsius. Any colder than that is unnecessary and a waste of money.
- Think before you tumble dry
A tumble dryer can use up to five times more energy per load than a washing machine, costing up to €3.50 per load at current prices, so if you have alternative ways of drying clothes then you should consider them. For example, an outdoor washing line on dry days or a clothes horse beside a radiator can save money. If you are drying clothes indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated by a wall-vent or an open window.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs
Energy-saving light-bulbs cost just a fraction of the cost to run than traditional lightbulbs. So while they cost a little more to buy, you could save around €20 per year per bulb depending on the wattage of the bulb.
- Monitor your energy use
The Mullingar Sustainable Energy Community has a small number of household energy monitors that you can borrow to monitor how you are using energy in your house. Email [email protected] if you would like to borrow one for a few weeks.
For more information, check out SEAI’s Reduce Your Use booklet on their website at www.seai.ie.