THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency (EPA) is asking householders to take steps that will minimise the impact of home heating on air quality and on people’s health.
By taking simple steps, the EPA says people can ensure they are using the cleanest and most energy efficient ways to heat their homes this winter.
Poor heating practices
Dr Ian Marnane of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said that pollution from poor home heating practices such as burning unseasoned timber or waste can have a significant impact on air quality in local areas, which can have “health impacts particularly for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly and people with existing health problems,” he said.
He said there are a number of ways to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
His tip for the cleanest and most energy efficient way to heating your home is get a gas boiler or an oil boiler, although he said open fires and stoves are still a popular means of home heating in Ireland.
To protect air quality, many areas across the country now have a ban on the sale and use of smoky coal and residents in these areas are obliged to burn only smokeless fuels.
Dr Marnane said that residents in other locations outside these ban areas should also consider using smokeless coal to minimise their impact on the local environment.
“There is a range of clean innovative smokeless solid fuel products available on the market which are cleaner and which deliver improved air quality and human health benefits,” he said.
He also warned against the dangers of not properly disposing of waste, stating that it should not be burned in an open fire or solid fuel stove.
“Burning waste is illegal as burning materials such as plastics and magazines results in harmful toxic pollutants which can impact on air quality both within your house and in your immediate neighbourhood. Apart from the potential air quality and health effects, burning waste can also result in damage to stoves and chimneys,” said Dr Marnane.
Another tip to save money and energy, he said householders should consider insulating their homes. He said that people should investigate the grants that are available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland which can be used for energy efficiency improvements from attic insulation to boiler upgrades.
“It will make a difference to your heating bill,” he said.
According to the EPA air quality is a growing concern, especially during the winter months when people’s fuel choices can directly impact on air quality and on our health.
The EPA’s most recent air quality report showed that the air quality in Ireland is generally of a high standard across the country. If you would like to see an up to date reading of Ireland’s air quality, click here.