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Home improvements to make yours greener (and save money)

TheJournal.ie spoke to an expert from the Irish Green Building Council about how to give your home a green revamp.

NOT ONLY IS going green important for the environment – it’s in the law.

Under a 2009 EU Directive Ireland is required to ensure that by 2020, 16% of energy used in the electricity, heat and transport sectors, comes from renewable sources.

Making your home more eco-friendly goes beyond just helping the environment. It can make a serious difference to your energy bills while improving the comfort of your home.

To find out more about how to ‘green your gaff’, TheJournal.ie spoke to Pat Barry, executive director of the Irish Green Building Council, about what steps people should be taking.

Green living, alright for some, but isn’t it just a load of hassle. Why would anyone bother? 

For the homeowners, they are trying to save money. Through water and energy savings. By doing these things you are going to be saving money but you will also be making your house more comfortable by carrying out insulation works.

money gif

Well everybody likes to save money – how do they go about doing this? 

It is fairly broad – in terms of energy the first thing to look at is to make sure you have the right amount of insulation in your attic. That is the quickest and cheapest way to cut down on energy loss.

You can look at your boiler if you have an old boiler.  If it is more than 15 years old then maybe it’s time to replace it. You could save up to 5% of your energy bill by putting in a new boiler.

The cost of these things is relative though, if I decided to get my attic insulated, how much would I have to fork out? 

People might already have insulation in their attic, but it might be a small amount, maybe only 100mm. It would cost around €700 to €1,000 to improve that.

That’s a bit pricey. Any bargains out there for people on budgets? 

The cheapest thing is to replace your incandescent light bulbs – for probably less than €50 you could change all of the light bulbs in your house.

lightbulb gif

A water butt costs around €75 and you can fit it yourself. You can connect it to your down pipe. It is essentially a water tank and it comes with a special attachment that fits into the down pipe and all the water coming down the pipe gets put into the tank.

water butt A water butt Source: Grow Your Own

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And what about if someone really wanted to go all the way with this and was building a new house? What would be your tips for them? 

In a new building the first thing to look at is the location. If you pick a poorly located site you have to access it by car. That can be a multiple of the energy used to heat and light the home.

We would encourage people to avoid using agricultural land and look for a site that has already been developed.

shutterstock_62149201 Source: solar energy via shutterstock

The next thing to look at if you are developing a new house is to look at the brief and to spend a lot of time on the actual design. Make sure it is going to maximise on solar gains.

Avoid building a house that is bigger than you actually need. That is where a proper designer can really analyse your needs and you may find it doesn’t need to be as big as you thought initially. You cut down the area that you need to build. You can have flexible spaces.

gif design

Well this all sounds very worthwhile – but do you have hard time winning over the ‘can’t be bothered’ brigade? 

In terms of the smaller items, it’s not so difficult. With the larger items, where you have to get workmen in, there is a psychological thing where people don’t like builders coming into their house and moving things around and making a mess. There does tend to be a major blockage there. The thought of all the hassle puts people off.

Pat Barry’s tips to make your home greener

  • The quickest way to cut down on energy loss is attic insulation.
  • Changing light bulbs is a cost effective change that can be made.
  • A water butt can be used to conserve rain water.
  • Try and maximise on solar gains.
  • If building a new house location is important. Avoid areas that require agricultural land and look for a pre-developed site.

Find out more ways to revamp your home here. 

Related: Toyota to sell fuel cell cars for €50k in US, Europe

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