The evidence of climate change is all around us, and the window of opportunity to repair the damage is closing fast. The rapidly worsening crisis demands dramatic changes in how we all use energy. We are encouraging people to make climate action a priority in 2020.
The energy we use in our homes and for transport contribute the most to our individual carbon footprints. In fact, home energy use for heating and electricity accounts for a quarter of all of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. That means your actions make a real difference. The time for small steps is past. We need our own personal changes to feel more substantial, more stretching than ever before. So, for 2020 we are suggesting some giant steps we can make – or at least steps that feel more like giant steps.
Get a Building Energy Rating (BER)
A BER certificate indicates your home’s energy performance. Similar to the energy label for household appliances, the certificate rates the building on a scale of A to G. The most energy efficient with the lowest energy bills and lowest emissions are A-rated, which use less than a sixth of the energy of a G-rated home.
To get a BER certificate you will need to organise an assessment of your home with a registered BER assessor. Once you know just how efficient your home actually is you can choose the best energy efficiency improvements for you and your budget.
Invest in insulation
One of the first steps you should consider to make your home more energy efficient is insulation. On average, a home loses 20 - 30% of its heat through the walls and up to 30% through a poorly insulated attic. Insulation will reduce heat loss and your heating bills. It will make your home more comfortable, and, as you will be using your heating less, you will also cut down on your greenhouse gas emissions.
Quit on fossil fuels
Once you have made sure your home is well insulated and heat is not escaping, you should consider a renewable heating system. Heat pumps are environmentally friendly and are extremely efficient home heating systems in well insulated houses. The most common heat pumps work by converting energy from the air outside of your home into heat inside, much like the way a fridge cools food. They provide a nice, even heat throughout the house, and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
Similarly, you can heat water easily with a solar thermal system. These systems use solar panels to provide up to 60% of your hot water requirements for the year.
Transport is the largest energy user in Ireland and private cars account for about one fifth of all our energy use. Try to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible.
For when you must drive, give some serious thought to an electric car when you are next replacing your car. With over 4,700 electric cars bought last year, the shift to electric is well and truly underway. Electric cars are more affordable to run, benefit from numerous incentives, including discounts on tolls, and with new models coming to market there are more options available than ever before. It is not only the environment that benefits as electric cars reduce harmful pollutants that have seriously impact our health. With so many benefits for both the environment and your pocket, driving an electric car makes so much sense.
Learn more about the benefits of driving electric.
There are a range of generous Government funded grants available from SEAI which can help make these big changes more affordable.