Members of the public and Transition Monaghan gathered on Saturday morning last to discuss ways in which householders can take measures to reduce their bills in an event organised by Transition Monaghan.
The event began with addresses by guest speakers Frank Cooney Architect and Michael Hanratty, energy consultant with IHER Services. Frank, who lives in a Nearly Zero Energy Building, spoke of his work as an architect and of the importance in getting the design appropriate to your needs and surroundings, when building a new house. He says it is important to plan correctly when either building or retrofitting a home. He advised that when seeking to make a house more energy efficient, it is best to start with the simplest and least expensive steps, such as sealing draughts before investing in insulation and retrofitting. Investing in renewables should only be done after insulation is maximised.
Michael Hanratty spoke of his work on a European funded project, which involved mapping a profile of the quality of housing stock in North Dublin City. This striking, colour coded map, by geographic area, indicated the average insulation level in households as well as the overall fuel poverty level. It showed the there is a lot of work to be done to get the housing stock up to adequate BER levels. He mentioned a very useful bit of work which had been done on profiling the housing stock in the country. This study, which categorises the most common Irish house types, illustrates the general level of insulation in these houses, the work which would need to be done to bring it up to a reasonable standard, the costs involved and overall payback time. For example, if you live in a pre 1978, ‘End of Terrace / Semi Detached House’ with cavity walls, you would need to spend a total of €17,920 on an upgrade to bring it up to a standard level, which would give you a payback time of 5.1 years. The cost would be much lower and payback period much shorter if you include SEAI grants. Grant details are listed on the SEAI website http://www.seai.ie. A full list of Irish house categories and required refurbishment is available on http://www.iher.ie under ‘consultancy and research’.
Following the presentations there were two sessions of four workshops (two running concurrently) on key areas of household expenditure. These focused on simple, everyday measures which householders can take to reduce their spending and environmental impact.
On water, Ollan Herr, a reed bed systems and water harvesting professional, stated that the best way to save water is to avoid unnecessary usage. However, failing that, reduced use is the best step, i.e. showering using a normal shower rather than a power shower. He also mentioned more expensive upgrades which are available such as installing a water collection tank on your roof as well as a system for the re – use of grey water.
Jennifer McAree, who recently completed an internship with DIT Green Campus, spoke of the environmental and cost saving benefit of recycling and composting. She stressed the importance of looking carefully at packaging to see whether it is recyclable and also pointed out that cooked food, dairy products and cooked / raw meat are not suitable for home compost bins.
Michael Connolly delivered a workshop on electricity while Barry Mc Carron who works for the Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology in Enniskillen delivered a presentation on heat / insulation. Both workshops focused on techniques and inexpensive investments that can reduce household energy usage and bills.
Transition Monaghan is a voluntary initiative that always welcomes new volunteers. We hope to run further sustainability events in the future. You can find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘liking’ us on Facebook.