Boyle ready to save €6.1 million on energy needs

Energy transition at your doorstep

A survey study carried out by Good Energies Alliance Ireland on household energy uses in Boyle (Co. Roscommon) discovered that the town spends over €4 million on fossil fuels each year. This not only generates local pollution and contributes to the climate crisis, but also cripples the local economy, as this money flows out of it.

GEAI has developed a Powerful Community Pathway for Boyle that shows untapped potential for households to save money by cutting over €6 million off energy costs in five years. At the same time, phasing out from fossil fuels brings several health, social and environmental advantages the community can benefit from. Figure below shows the increasing trend of annual savings for the 2019-2025 time horizon.

This equals to a 41% drop in climate-harmful emissions.

The report demonstrates that a clean and just energy transition is accessible, pays back in the short run and empowered communities can lead it. We are indeed proud to announce that, as a result of GEAI study, Boyle citizens have embarked on a journey to become a Sustainable Energy Community, receiving grants and mentorship from SEAI.

We hope our work can inspire other communities all over Ireland who want to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their standard of living.

Find out more by downloading the report and the key findings in our publication page.

Areas of transition

Households can take a range of actions to save on energy costs. We have grouped them into four areas.

Here are a few examples of actions below, check the full list in the report. 

Knowledge
To kickstart realistic transition we need to know more about our energy use: tracking energy costs, switching energy suppliers for better rates and keeping an eye on grants available.
Transport
Reduce car journeys and increase public transport use, when possible, and eventually switch to electric vehicles.
Houses
Get a Building Energy Rating (BER) of your home and consider insulation works as a good start, followed by installing renewable energy systems on-site.
Community
Community engagement is the driving force of the transition. Without a collective effort the transition is unlikely to escalate.

Main figures

The average households spends €4,513 per year for its energy needs (heating + electricity + transport). Only 8.6% of that is spent on renewable energy.

Even though thermal energy costs account for just 30% of the total, thermal energy has the largest climate impact share, at 54% of the total carbon emissions. This is due to high reliance on oil and solid fuels for heating purposes, which are “cheap” emitters of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, electricity has the highest carbon content per unit of energy (kgCO2 per kWh produced), due to the national electric grid running for the major part on natural gas.

Transport energy, at 31%, has the second largest impact, due to dominance of privately-owned diesel and petrol cars (6 cars for every 10 residents).

The Household Energy Survey

This study has been managed by GEAI and carried out by European Erasmus+ volunteers with IT Sligo technical support.

In order to obtain the energy profile of the typical Boyle household, a doorstep survey was designed and administered to over 100 households in town, representing 10% of the total population. The survey included details of house age and characteristics, types of energy used, monthly or annual expenditure on electricity, heating and transport.

European volunteers taking a respondent answers

Once the data were collected and analyzed, a transition scenario to 2025 was developed, based on the transition areas and actions described above.  The results were presented to Boyle community at an “Energy Challenge” seminar.

We are currently considering replication of the project in other towns in Ireland and partnership in Europe.


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GEAI at SEAI 2017 National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities

SEAI SEC National Event in Athlone IT

On Saturday 25th November 2017 our EVS Volunteer Francesca attended the annual National Event on Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) organised by SEAI, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and hosted by Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Roscommon.
The event brought together SEC representatives from all over the country to network with other SEC groups and share personal experiences as well as useful information.
The opening remarks by Julie O’Neill, SEAI Chairperson, celebrated the successful expansion of the Sustainable Energy Community Programme, with 124 SECs currently all around Ireland – this number has doubled during the last twelve months.

The event was structured around several workshops designed using a LEARN – PLAN – DO approach and tailored to meet the needs of SECs at different stages of development.
During the day participants and SEC representatives had the opportunity to get insights from SEAI mentors and guest speakers and share national and international experiences.
Topics of the workshops included Engaging Energy Citizens: Tools and Support; SEAI Citizen Engagement Programmes; Engaging Business Energy Users and lastly, Energy Master Plans and Renewable Energy.

“ThinkEnergy” toolkit

It was particularly interesting to learn about “ThinkEnergy”, a Home Energy Saving Kit developed by Codema aimed at better understanding the energy consumption at household level and cut down energy bills. The kit contains a fridge/freezer thermometer, a temperature and humidity meter, a radiator key, a thermal leak detector, a plug-in energy monitor and a stopwatch in addition to a user-friendly guide with tips and solutions. At the moment the kit is available to borrow free-of-charge in libraries across Dublin City and it will be soon made available in other parts of the country. (Watch the explanatory video here)

 

BMW i3 model (EV)

During the day our Volunteer had also the opportunity to test driving a five-door urban electric BMW i3. “It was really exciting to test it as it was the first time I drove an automatic and electric vehicle” Francesca said adding that “the event has been a fantastic experience to interact with people involved in energy issues at local level and to acknowledge efforts made by SEAI to engage with citizens and promote energy efficiency”.

Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

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