A new information booklet developed by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications is being delivered to every household in Donegal, acting as a signpost to the public to highlight the supports and services available as we work our way through the European energy crisis.
The Reduce Your Use, Stay Warm and Well booklet gives practical advice on how to reduce energy use for central heating systems and large electrical appliances, as well as guiding people to immediate supports to help manage the cost of energy, with further information on support and advice available from MABS and ALONE.
Heating is the single biggest energy user in Irish homes. Where it is safe and possible to do, households are advised to turn their thermostat down to 19°C in living areas. This can reduce energy use by 10% and have an immediate, positive effect on a heating bill. Turning radiators off or down in rooms not used can save even more money. But first and foremost, it is important that people stay warm this winter.
To help people make informed decisions on their own energy usage, a user-friendly Using Less Saves More (Know Your Appliances) graphic is provided (see attached). It identifies which appliances use the most energy in your home, with a breakdown of cost per use or hour. This was compiled by Professor Aoife Foley, an expert in energy systems engineering, with her research team at Queen’s University Belfast.
Professor Foley said: “Based on our figures, a family of four could be spending as much as €25 per day on electricity, gas and home heating. Over a standard winter monthly billing period, this could exceed a cost of €700. This cost is for everyday home activities such as electric showers, using your dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer, boiling your kettle and cooking dinner. However, the biggest cost on a daily basis is having central heating on for 5 hours, which accounts for 46% of that daily cost, at approximately €11.40. Turning your heating thermostat to about 19°C, setting the hot water thermostat to about 60°C, servicing your boiler, checking that no air is trapped in your radiators, and using the correct time or volume setting to heat the water you need means a saving of a few hundred euros a year for the average household in Donegal.
“By highlighting the energy cost of certain appliances in the home in tandem with advice on how to reduce energy consumption, we are empowering people to make informed decisions on how they can reduce their use where it is safe and possible to do so, while also keeping more money in their pocket. But staying warm and well this winter must be the priority for everyone.”
Electrical appliances in the home, especially if they heat things, are another large user of energy, and immediate steps can be taken to reduce the levels of energy usage and in turn see this translate into lower energy bills. The top three actions people can do today are:
- use your washing machine and dishwasher on full load, lower temperatures and eco settings, if available;
- minimise the use of a tumble dryer and hang clothes to dry, where possible;
- be effective with your time when using an electric shower.
Key partners in the Reduce Your Use/Stay Warm & Well campaign include the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI, the Money and Budgeting Advice Service (MABS) and ALONE.
Tom Halpin, Head of Communications, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), said: “We are working with households right across Donegal to help everyone reduce their energy use, now and for good. This starts with advising all householders and businesses how to reduce their energy bills through changing habits, better practice and guidance on heating and electricity. To keep your use of electricity as low as possible, people should know which appliances use the most electricity. Be smart about when and how often you use them. A good rule of thumb is: if it makes things hot, then it uses a lot of electricity. For example, electric showers, kettles, and hair dryers.
“We are also delighted to see the huge interest in our Government-funded grants for home energy upgrades, helping homeowners in Donegal to improve the comfort of their homes while reducing their energy bills and harmful CO2 emissions. These schemes provide options and solutions for all budgets and all levels of ambition.”
The information booklet is part of the national Government of Ireland Reduce Your Use / Stay Warm and Well campaign, which is led by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The campaign was launched as part of the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge facing families, households and businesses due to rising energy costs. In responding swiftly to the needs of the public, this booklet aims to:
- show how much day-to-day activities in the home can cost in energy bills;
- give practical advice on how people can save on their energy bills;
- tell people who are worried about meeting their energy costs where help and support is available.
Karl Cronin, National Spokesperson, MABS, said: “MABS is delighted to work with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications on this campaign. Electricity and heating costs are priority expenses for every household and should be budgeted for accordingly. Where possible, weekly payments should be made towards electricity and heating costs to keep them under control and avoid arrears building up and becoming a problem.
“There are a number of supports available for households struggling to meet these costs and advice and information on these are available from our MABS helpline and our network of MABS offices.
“No one should be left without light or heat this winter — MABS is here to help”.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, speaks about why they are involved in the campaign, saying: “Since we have moved beyond summer we have noticed an uptake in the number of calls received from older people who are very concerned about their energy costs this winter, and who have been feeling the impact of rising costs for some time. We want to be clear that older people should not restrict their energy usage in ways that could impact their health this winter. Keeping warm and well is not just an issue of comfort, but a health issue.
“ALONE staff and volunteers are in place nationwide — to offer practical support and to coordinate services for and with older people to address their energy needs this winter, whether that is support with paying a bill, advice on how to minimise your energy costs while staying well, linking you in with relevant practical supports, or if you are simply concerned about the winter to come.”