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Feel the Heat!

Riva wood-burning stove by Stovax

17 hot tips to help you heat your home more efficiently…

Brrrrrrr, what a cold snap we’ve had of late! Follow these lifesaver tips below to make sure the chilly season doesn’t bankrupt you…

1. Set the right temperature Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C can reduce your annual heating energy consumption by a whopping 10 per cent. While 20°C is an ideal room temperature throughout the house, your bedroom should be no more than 18°C for optimal sleep. Rather than overheat the room, simply layer up your bed with cosy blankets and throws.

2. All heaters are not created equal When buying heaters, make sure they are the right size for the rooms you want to heat. Electric heaters other than storage heaters consume electricity at the most expensive charge rate, so only use them to provide a quick boost.

3. Make a DIY draught excluder A simple stuffed sausage-style draught excluder can work wonders to warm up a room and save on your energy bill, especially in older homes and period properties. Why not find a fabric you love and make your own using one of the many step-by-step guides online?

4. Go for a stove Open fires look wonderful (and smell great), but unfortunately they are wasteful, with more than 70 per cent of the energy going up the chimney. So it might be time to invest in a stove – there are a raft of accessibly priced options on the market. A modern wood-burning stove can achieve efficiencies of up to 80 per cent compared with only 20-30 per cent for a traditional open fire. Wood-pellet stoves that have integral back boilers for heating and hot-water production are also available.

Above: Jøtul Scan wood-burning stove, available from Fenton Fires.

5. Wooden it be nice Modern woodchip or pellet boilers offer a highly efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gas or oil boilers. They can be tied into an existing heating system without difficulty and are cheaper to run than conventional boilers.

6. Create a cosy corner A comfortable beanbag, a good book and a cup of tea … what more do you need to make the most of long, dark evenings? Keep a basket armed with cosy supplies – slippers, a cashmere jumper, a pretty blanket – to encourage layering up before reaching for the boost button.

7. Recycle your warmth Heat-recovery ventilation technology cleverly recycles warm air in your home. Irish company ProAir supply small-scale air-handler units that can recover heat from warm air expelled from a bathroom or kitchen and transfer it back to heat other sections of your house. It’s sustainable – and saves you money.

8. Rein in radiator heat If a radiator is mounted below a window, make sure to install a projecting window-board or shelf above it to direct warm air into the room, reducing heat loss through the window.

9. Get a grant Do a little research – you might be eligible for a grant to help you offset the cost of heating your home. The SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme provides grants to homeowners who invest in energy-efficiency improvements in one or more of the following areas: roof insulation, wall insulation, installation of a high-efficiency (greater than 90 per cent) gas- or oil-fired boiler, heating-control upgrades and solar panels.

10. Shut the door! It may sound obvious, but simply closing doors to separate heated from unheated areas of your home will not only keep rooms warmer for longer, but will also help rooms to heat up faster.

11. Timing is everything Heating hot water accounts for 64 per cent of energy consumption in the home, so make an effort to be thrifty in this department. Use the timer on immersion heaters to supply you with enough hot water as and when you need it.

12. Be cool with laundry As much as 90 per cent of the energy consumption of washing machines goes on heating the water. So make an effort to wash clothes whenever possible in cold or cool water – more and more detergent manufacturers are creating products optimised to work best at lower temperatures.

13. Get good service Don’t forget to service your boiler regularly. It can be one of those things that sits on your to-do list for months, but tick it off and you could improve your overall efficiency by 10 per cent – saving you up to €150 per year.

14. Go solar Solar panels use the sun’s energy, rather than fossil fuels, to generate low-cost, environmentally friendly thermal energy. By installing solar panels, you could create enough energy to heat your water for free.

15. Be a hot stepper Tiled bathroom floors can be icy on bare feet in winter. These days, laminate can offer a warm, durable and now 100 per cent waterproof option underfoot, with Quick-Step’s new hydroseal flooring. The Impressive Ultra, from around €35 per square metre, features joints that run exactly level with the design, colour and structure of each plank, giving a more realistic, distressed look.

16. Have blind faith Don’t let all your precious heat disappear out the window; up to 50 per cent of your home’s heat can be lost this way. Fitting made-to-measure shutters or wooden Venetian blinds can reduce this significantly. Wood is a natural insulator and is extremely effective at keeping cold out in winter – they look lovely too!

17. Double up! Double glazing reduces heat loss through windows and minimises condensation and noise. You can get double glazing installed without replacing your window frames. Heavy-lined curtains also help keep the cold out.

Resources: seai.iekingspansolar.iequick-step.co.ukproair.ie, fentonfires.ie, stovax.com.

Compiled by Lizzie Gore-Grimes.

For a smart thermostat and more clever home gadgets, head here.

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