Energy Conservation in 2023 and Beyond

Energy plays an important role in modern life in Ireland. Many processes and activities in our daily lives can't take place without energy. Such processes and activities include heating, the lighting of homes and businesses, transportation and industrial processes, among other activities.

With the growing population, domestic and commercial energy demand is also increasing and the cost of energy supplied by the different utility companies is increasing due to higher demand. This makes it critical to conserve energy through efficient use. 

It's important that every home and businesses learn how to conserve if we're to reduce reliance on damaging fossil fuels and make the most of the natural, sustainable resources we're blessed with here in Ireland.

This guide helps you to understand what energy conservation is all about. You will be able to learn different ways you can conserve and reduce your energy usage with a view to minimising your overall carbon footprint and play your part in helping Ireland meet its ambitious Green Energy commitments.

We at Bord Gáis Energy are here to help you to make the best energy-efficient choices that save you money, make your home more comfortable, and contribute to environmental conservation.

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What is energy conservation?

Energy conservation is the conscious decision and active practice of reducing energy consumption by using more efficient methods. processes and technologies. Basically, it’s about making limited energy resources last for longer periods through more efficient usage. Conservation is the process of reducing demand on a limited supply while you allow the supply to naturally replenish and/or regenerate itself.

You conserve energy when you use energy-efficient appliances in your home and business. When your energy consumption is decreased, energy bills reduce and you consequently save money. This shows that energy conservation comes with tangible benefits, and every Irish home and business should adopt the necessary measures to conserve its energy.

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Ways of conserving energy

With energy conservation becoming significant for homes, businesses, industries, and even countries, it is good to evaluate various ways of conserving it. Energy waste reduction is at the forefront of our national planning strategy and you too can chip in and play your part.

The following are some of the ways you can conserve energy in your home and business;

Invest in Renewable Energy 

Renewable energy resources, such as solar energy and wind energy, help homes and businesses to conserve energy. Fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, are at the risk of exhaustion, and they pollute our environment. Solar energy is an affordable energy alternative that can easily be installed in a home or business. When you install your own energy system, you will be able to manage energy consumption better.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers renewable energy grants to help homeowners and businesses to adopt solar energy, heat pumps and a whole host of home energy upgrades. Taking advantage of such grants and choosing an installer with good terms, can help homes and businesses get reliable energy systems without necessarily incurring great upfront costs.   

Installing your own energy system ensures that you are completely in charge of your energy conservation goals. When you rely on national or main grids for electricity, you may end up receiving high energy bills due to the constantly fluctuating energy prices. Also, such sources are known for power interruptions and outages. Thus, installing a renewable energy system is one of the key ways of conserving energy.  

Once you’ve installed your own energy system, you can efficiently regulate consumption levels throughout your home. You can set the periods when to switch on heating or cooling systems without having to worry about your electricity provider reliability, making this one of the major steps toward energy conservation and independence. 

Insulate Your Home 
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Homes and businesses that conserve energy are usually well insulated to seal against air leaks. When a home is not well insulated, warm air can easily be lost via cracks and other open spaces within a home. More energy will be used to warm a home when the heated air keeps vanishing through spaces in the wall. Insulating such spaces will ensure that minimal energy is used for heating a home. 

Different types of insulations can be carried out at your home to ensure you do not use more energy than needed. These insulations include; cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation, internal wall insulation, and attic insulation. 

Approximately 35 percent of a home’s heat is lost via external walls. If your home has cavities that are not insulated, it is the time to seal them in order to improve energy conservation. 

For concrete walls without cavities, external wall insulation is another great option. External wall insulation involves wrapping a layer of stable and rigid insulation around your home. If the internal room's space is not an issue for your house, you may also consider internal wall insulation where extra insulating cardboards will be put inside your home. A home’s heat can also be lost via attics. To avoid heat loss through the attic, it is good to insulate the attic using a thick layer of insulating material. 

When a home is properly insulated using some of the mentioned insulation options, energy is conserved from heating requirements of that home. This ensures that a home retains its heat within the inside without having to use extra energy to provide warmth. 

Use Energy-Saving Light Bulbs 
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Homes that use incandescent light bulbs to illuminate are wasting a lot of energy. Incandescent light bulbs consume a lot of energy to perform their lighting work. These light bulbs are very inefficient, and about 90 per cent of energy is emitted as wasted heat, with just 10 per cent released as visible light. 

To conserve energy at your home and business, ensure you’re using compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. CFL and LED light bulbs are very efficient, and they consume 25-80 per cent less electricity than the incandescent bulbs. These bulbs are also 3 to 25 times longer lasting than traditional light bulbs.

Energy-efficient light bulbs may be more expensive than the incandescent ones, but their energy-saving capability yields better returns in the long run. 

Install a Smart Thermostat

A core component of the modern Irish smart home, a smart, programmable thermostat can easily be set to turn on and off automatically when you’re away from home or asleep eliminating energy waste. 

It allows you to set the desired temperatures, which switch on and off automatically. This means you can turn on your home's heating system automatically while at work to have it warm before you arrive. 

Our latest estimates indicate that a smart thermostat can save you up to €200 per year. They usually come in different models that can be programmed to fit your weekly schedule. 

Some smart thermostats such as the Hive Active Heating System that we offer at Bord Gáis Energy also have additional features that can be used to alert you when it’s time to replace air filters and warn you when there are technical errors throughout your home heating system, making it a truly innovative way to conserve energy.

Upgrade Your Windows and Doors 
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A significant amount of heat can be lost through windows and doors. High energy-conserving windows are specifically designed to keep heat inside your home when needed. They are also designed to keep external heat, cold, and humidity outside. They usually entail multiple-glazes, low E-coatings, and energy-saving capabilities. 

The upfront cost of such windows and doors might be high, but the long-run benefits are worth the investment. Upgraded windows and doors also offer comfort for homes. Outdated windows and doors allow uncomfortable drafts into your house, but the upgraded ones eliminate them. Thus, upgraded windows and doors help you to conserve energy. 

Install an Efficient Water Heater or Heat Pump
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Water heating is a significant expense for many Irish homes, accounting for up to 12 percent of your monthly domestic utilities bill. This alone should help ensure that more efficient water heating forms a significant part of your energy conservation goals. 

There are different water heaters available in the Irish market. The first is a storage water heater which contains a big tank where the water is heated. Secondly, tankless water heaters which heat water as it passes via a circuit, thus eliminating the need to use a tank. 

Tankless water heaters such as heat pumps are more energy-efficient than the conventional storage water heaters. Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly.

You would also conserve a lot of energy when you use solar water heaters. Solar thermal systems are usually designed to meet 50 to 60 percent of your overall water heating needs. This means that heating your water with solar thermal systems reduces your energy consumption all year round. SEAI offers solar water heating grants to help you handle the upfront costs. The solar water heating grant value is €1200. These water heaters are a great way to conserve energy. 

Upgrade to More Energy Efficient Appliances 
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Home appliances usually account for about 13 percent of a home’s energy use. When purchasing a home or business appliance, close attention should be paid to its energy consumption rate. 

The upfront purchasing price of a new Smart TV or sound system may be high, but the long-term conservation benefits will far surpass the initial outlay costs. The operating costs of energy-efficient appliances are usually 9 to 25 percent lower than conventional ‘non smart’ appliances. 

Plan Your Home Properly 

When building a new home, it's wise to consider the building's energy efficiency in advance. The initial planning and construction plans should involve projections of energy consumption levels to meet your current and future requirements. 

An increasingly common feature in sustainable home building, the passive solar design usually uses the sun for lighting and heating purposes without incorporating mechanical devices. Adopting such designs can significantly cut your need for additional light and heat sources. 

The construction process should incorporate steel doors, glazed windows, heat repellent roofing, well designed and insulated attics, overhangs, as well as other necessary energy-efficient measures and the planning phase is critical to ensure you make the right material choices when building a new home or upgrading to an energy-efficient one. 

Illustrated Energy Icons

Main Advantages of Energy Conservation 

Energy reductions and conservation methods come with numerous advantages to the people who embrace them. The following are some of the benefits for conserving energy efficiently;

More Energy Savings

Conserving energy saves you money on energy costs as a result of reduced utility bills. The energy-saving options addressed above help you reduce the level of energy consumed in your home and business. As you use less energy, the less the money you will spend on electrical bills.

When you invest in installing an independent solar or wind energy system, the returns will be greater. You will be completely energy independent because you're generating your own energy. You won't be worried about electrical bills anymore. 

As you conserve energy generated from your solar energy system, you may have an opportunity to generate some income from the produced energy. Some energy companies allow you to send excess energy generated by your system to their electrical grids. You receive monetary compensations in return for the energy sent there. Thus, as one conserves energy, the more energy is available for sale to such electrical grids.  

Improved Environmental Sustainability
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Conservation of energy via the use of renewable energy leads to environmental conservation as well. Fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, release greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas emissions are the main drivers of climate change. On the other hand, renewable energy resources are carbon-free. The use of such energy sources leads to environmental conservation. 

When you invest in a solar energy system, the energy produced by your system is carbon-free. This reduces global warming and other adverse effects that result from the use of dirty energy. This benefit proceeds to the use of solar thermal energy for heating purposes in your home, bringing the prospect of greater environmental sustainability that one step nearer a reality.

Added Value to Your Home or Business
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Energy conservation measures add value to your home or business. Whether you're planning to rent or sell your property today or in the future, energy conservation upgrades add value to it. Everyone would be interested in buying a home with a high BER rating because they will spend less money on electrical bills.  

Property buyers will also be attracted by energy-conserving windows, doors, insulations, and heating systems integrated to your home. Hence, energy-conserving add-ons increase a home's value.

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Bord Gáis Energy Green Price Plans

We hope this guide has equipped you with all the information required to understand some of the immediate and longer-term steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and play your part in minimising your emissions.

At Bord Gais Energy, our focus is on helping home and business owners to make more sustainable energy use choices. We want to help you save energy and money, make your home more comfortable, improve your home's security and safety, add value to it, and make your home more environmentally conservative by adopting energy-efficient solutions. We want to help you to conserve energy efficiently and reap the benefits that come with it.

If you’ve got a question on Green Energy or would like us to cover any other renewable energy topics or initiatives not covered in our sustainability hub, please contact us today and we’d be more than happy to assist with your request and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision on the best way forward for your home energy needs.

For more information on our Green Plans follow the link below.

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