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Energy Solutions

Quick Fixes for Heating Transformation

In our previous blogs, we have been suggesting ways to transition from fossel fuels to more renewable alternatives as the cost of oil and gas continues to fluctuate.

As full retrofits are beyond many people’s budget, today we look at  ‘quick fix’  methods to ameliorate rising energy bills. We will also argue that special measures should be in place to help the Midlands quickly transition from peat.

As mentioned in a previous column, appropriate attic insulation is the most cost effective of any energy efficiency upgrades to your home. A home, on average, loses 20-30% of its heat through the roof, if not properly insulated. It will cost around €1,700 to €2,100 for attic insulation based on the thermal insulation you select. Grants of between €800 and €1,500 are available from the SEAI.

Another option is to instal a gas tank in your garden or yard which provides an off-grid alternative to electricity and oil.  Calor is the first energy company in Ireland to supply BioLPG. It’s 40% renewable and functions exactly the same as conventional LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). BioLPG is made up of sustainably sourced renewable vegetable oils and waste materials. It is less costly, more efficient, cleaner and produces less carbon than oil.

While there are no grants available for LPG, Calor is offering generous incentives. The tanks can be placed over or underground. Sensors will alert the gas company when the tank is almost empty and they will automatically refill.

As mentioned in earlier columns, Bio-Mass wood pellet stoves also provide a quick fix.

Wood pellet stoves are efficient and sustainable sources of heat and represent a quick and easy way to wean yourself off more costly fossil fuel. You can install a room heater or a back boiler which will heat all the radiators in your home. They can be installed in less than a day.

If choosing a backboiler, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the amount of radiators in the house by 1.5. For example, a house with ten radiators would require a 15kw stove.

For supply, all the fittings and installation, a room heater will cost €2000-€3,000, while a backboiler will set you back €5,000-€8,000 depending on brand and size.

A wood pellet stove can replace your boiler and provides as much heat as you want or can afford. It is more efficient than other common heat sources like oil, natural gas, coal and turf – up to 93% efficiency. The wood pellets generally come in 15kg bags which, depending on usage, can provide up to two days of heat for €6.50. Most come with remote controls or wifi boxes so they can be switched on before you arrive home.

This brings us to our last point. The Midlands has already been recognised by the EU as a special area of carbon transition. Tens of millions of EU funds have been allocated to the Midlands to help households transition from peat burning. The Government has pledged to match those funds. However, the emphasis continues to be on a full retrofit measures which, even with grants, continues to be beyond most people’s reach and could take years to implement. This should be re-examined and a portion of the funds allocated to subsidise some of the smaller measures listed above. For example, transitioning a household from an open fire to a pellet stove will increase energy efficiency by  60% and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. There appears to be a reluctance to grant-aid stoves, although they are subsidised in many European countries. The funds are there. Maybe it’s time to petition your local political representative.

James Kelly is CEO of Edenderry based energy solutions company Green Harbour.