What is Energy Efficiency?
Energy efficiency is the way we can reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. We can improve our energy efficiency adopting:
- More efficient technologies
- More efficient production processes
- Use commonly accepted ways to reduce energy losses in the way we live.
Why should we be energy efficient?
- We can reduce our electricity and other fuel bills by using low energy appliances e.g. led lights and/or substituting alternative energy sources e.g.solar panels
- We can reduce our heating costs through improved energy efficiency in buildings e.g. better insulation
- Reducing energy use is also seen as a solution to the problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and tackling climate change especially in the areas of transport and industrial processes
Funding for energy efficiency in Ireland
Due to the challenges of climate change and global CO2 emissions, the EU has produced the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012 that imposes an obligation on Ireland to achieve savings of 1.5% of its annual energy sales up to 2020.
It also has produced an Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme that assists Ireland in this obligation by funding measures that improve energy efficiency in Ireland.
The Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme is administered by SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland).
As part of this scheme, the Irish government has created a €70m Energy Efficiency Fund by committing €35 million, matched by private sector investment, to funding energy efficiency projects across Irish public and private sector buildings and urban infrastructure.
The Fund invests in projects that reduce energy consumption, recover useful energy from waste streams and renewable energy generation. These types of projects typically include:
- public and private building retrofit;
- industrial energy efficiency;
- biomass renewable heat projects;
- urban infrastructure, including street lighting and district heating networks, electric transport schemes
Energy efficiency in your house
Zero- cost Energy Saving Measures
- Turn down thermostats
- Use timers for hot water or space heating
- Switch off lights/appliances when not in use
- Shower rather than bathe
- Close curtains at night
- Fix leaking taps
- Position fridges and freezers in a cool place away from direct sunlight and heat
- Always wash full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher
- Maintain your hot water boiler
Low-cost Energy Saving Measures (up to 150E)
These measures typically recoup their cost in 1-2 years
- Insulate your hot water cylinder
- Draught seal doors, windows and other gaps
- Improve heating and water controls
- Replace ordinary light bulbs with energy saving CFLs
- Use lined curtains
Medium-cost Energy Saving Measures (150-450E)
These measures typically recoup their cost in 3-4 years
- Insulate your attic
- Consider ground floor insulation options
- Central heating controls
- Buy energy efficient appliances
Long-term Energy Saving Measures (>450E)
These measures are ideally considered when doing renovation/replacement work
- Cavity wall insulation
- Internal wall insulation
- External wall insulation
- Low-emissivity double-glazing
- Solar water heating systems
If you want to see how you fare when it comes to energy use and efficiency in your home take this survey on SEAI website.
More tips and advice here.
Energy efficiency in your office:
Office equipment typically consumes 20% of the electricity used in offices and making small adjustments to usage may save money.
- Switch off computers and monitor when you don’t use them, the monitor accounts for about half of the energy use of a typical computer
- Use a laptop computer instead of a desktop computer where practicable. A laptop can consume up to 90% less energy
- Reduce screen brightness. The default brightness setting for screens on laptops, tablets or phones is often set quite high and consumes relatively large amounts of energy
- Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when not in use as it is continually emitting signals to confirm connectivity when on. Any one of these features can seriously deplete your battery
- An ink-jet printer consumes up to 90% less energy than a laser printer
- Make it a policy to set default printing to duplex (double sided) and to print in black and white where possible
- Photocopiers use most electricity to heat components that fuse toner to paper. Opt for inks that can fuse at lower temperatures
- Switch off all equipment at the end of the day and/or install seven day timers
Heating costs may be reduced by up to 1/3 by simply maintaining appropriate temperatures and using appropriate heating equipment and controls.
- Reducing the temperature by 1°C may cut up to 10% off your heating costs
- Turn heating off in unoccupied areas
- Take account of the outside temperature and adjust heating levels accordingly. A multi programmable switch will accommodate varying requirements during the day
- Location of thermostats is vital to efficiencies in heating systems. Thermostats should not be influenced by sunlight, radiators or draughts. Regular checks will ensure that they are working correctly
- Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) control the heat output from radiators and can contribute to savings
- Night setback controls reduce temperatures effectively during specific time periods.
- Approximately 50% of the heat is lost from buildings through walls, floors and ceilings. Improving this loss will result in lower energy costs: Insulate, Insulate, Insulate! Ensure all external walls, roof spaces and hot water pipes are insulated and check the condition of the insulation regularly
- Zoning areas provides more efficient heating control and can reduce operating costs. Larger offices may need to provide different levels of heating in different zones. Creating heating zones will provide more efficient controls
- Zoning should be considered where there are: – Different occupancy patterns – Different temperature requirements
- Maintenance – Service gas boilers once a year and oil boilers twice a year. Regular maintenance can save up to 10% on heating costs
- Install low energy lighting by replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps/LEDs. This uses up to 75% less energy
- Promote a “Switch Off” policy. Lights should be switched off or dimmed in unoccupied areas
- Clearly label light switches to help employees only select the lights they need
- Regular lighting maintenance is essential. Keep windows, skylights and light fittings clean and light levels will be maintained
- Install occupancy sensors to ensure lighting only operates when someone is present and achieve savings of up to 30%.
Click here for a SEAI guide to energy efficient and cost effective lightning at your office.
Energy efficiency and transport
Transport is the sector with the highest final energy consumption and, without any significant policy changes is forecast to remain so.
Therefore the three main vehicle manufacturing regions have either implemented or plan to implement some or all of the IEA (International Energy Agency) recommendations on tyres and fuel efficiency.
- Be sustainable: Walk or cycle when is possible, is free and has the added benefit of being good for your health
- Consider using public transport as an alternative for some journeys
- Consider car sharing with work colleagues or taking turns to do the school run. This not only cuts your petrol usage and carbon emissions but also reduces the number of vehicles on the roads. f you don’t know anybody to share with you can find local website for carpooling.
- Regularly check your car tyre pressures. Underinflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by around 3%
- Reduce unnecessary weight in your car by removing clutter. More weight means more fuel consumption and higher emissions. Removing roof racks/boxes when not in use will also reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency
- Reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by driving smoothly and sticking to the speed limits. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more fuel than at 50mph
- Keeping your revs down by changing up a gear earlier can reduce fuel consumption. You should change up a gear in diesel cars at 2000rpm and 2500rpm for petrol cars
- Avoiding vehicle idling, e.g. by turning the engine off when the vehicle is stationary
- …if you will buy a new car consider having an electric car! They are cheaper to operate with low maintenance and up to 70% lower fuel costs. Tail pipe emissions are lower or zero emissions for a cleaner air. They are smoother and quieter than conventional vehicles.
SEAI’s report on transportation you can see here.