Appliances and lighting together account for one-fifth of all the energy used in your home, but there are ways to reduce energy use and save money.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, savings can be made by not leaving appliances on standby and by being mindful of how and when they are used.
“A good rule of thumb is that when it gets hot, it uses a lot of electricity. For example, electric showers, kettles, tumble dryers and hair dryers,” says Susan Andrews of SEAI.
Tips on how to save energy and save money
Close the refrigerator door as soon as possible. If it’s open for even 20 seconds, it takes 45 minutes for the fridge to cool down to its original temperature.
Defrost your freezer regularly. SEAI recommends doing this every six months to ensure efficient operations.
Only switch on the dishwasher when it is fully loaded.
Use a low temperature setting and an eco setting if available.
Use a lower temperature of 30 degrees and wait until you have a full charge before turning it on, but don’t overload it.
Avoid using a tumble dryer if possible. Instead, use a drying rack or hang laundry outside if the weather permits. If the dryer needs to be used, turn it on during off-peak hours and keep the filters clean.
Have it serviced once a year to work more efficiently. SEAI suggests asking your plumber to explain the settings and how to use them correctly.
The oven is one of the most expensive appliances in the home. Quickly close the door after opening during cooking, or it will have to reheat itself, which requires more energy. Batch cooking saves time and energy. For smaller meals, it’s better to use a microwave than your oven.
Only boil the kettle for the amount of water you need, there are measurements on it to help you.
Don’t charge your phone at night when you’re in bed. The device might only need an hour to fully charge, not the seven or eight hours while you sleep.
Unplug devices when not in use. Even in standby mode, they use 20% of the energy they would if they were on. So if any type of light is on, it means that current is flowing through the device.
Electric Ireland says appliances in ‘standby’ mode typically consume around 7% of a household’s energy use. It states that laptops should only be plugged in when charging and unplugged when not in use.
Turn off lights when you leave a room or when you don’t need them.
Use energy-saving LED lights, especially in rooms that you use frequently, such as the living room and kitchen.
Turn down the thermostat for your living space to 20°C.
The temperature in hallways and bedrooms should be cooler, ideally between 15-18°C.
Ireland’s Sustainable Energy Agency says a heating bill could be reduced by 10% by lowering the room temperature by just one degree.
Reduce or disable the radiator temperature in sparsely used rooms.
Close doors between heated and unheated spaces to keep heat inside.
Take a shower instead of a bath, as a shower typically uses 20% of the energy compared to a full bath.
Use timers to control when heating and soaking begins.
For more information, see SEAI website
In the meantime, according to bonkers.ie, to cut water heating costs by up to 30%, you need to make sure your tank is properly insulated with a three-inch thick insulating sleeve.
Conserving hot water is good practice too, so make sure you don’t leave the hot faucet running for too long “since you’re literally throwing money down the drain.”
An LED light bulb uses around 80-90% less electricity than a traditional light bulb and lasts up to 10 times longer. Replacing all the lightbulbs in your home could easily save you up to €60 a year, depending on how many lights you have.
Energy monitors for the home
If you want to see how much energy a device is using, an energy monitor can be used.
Home Energy Saving Kits are available from over 120 libraries across Ireland, allowing homeowners to monitor their energy use and insulation levels.
The kits can be borrowed for two to three weeks to carry out an energy audit at home.