Energy Efficiency


Are incandescent bulbs better than CFLs when used in short bursts?

No, not in terms of energy use. A criticism of CFL bulbs is that some can take a few minutes to achieve required lighting levels. However, alternative low energy lights exist for this type of location where light is required instantly and for short duration, for example for the new generation of high intensity LED lights. Frequent switching on and off of any light bulb will reduce its lifetime considerably. This is as true of incandescent bulbs as it is of CFLs.

The ESB also launched a Guide to Energy Efficient Lighting, which advises on replacement choices. For more details, go to:

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When are incandescent bulbs going to be banned?

The reason for the banning of incandesent bulbs is to reduce CO2emissions EU-wide by about 15 million tonnes a year. Also, lighting can account for as much as one-fifth of household electricity consumption, so cost is another good reason for banning them: energy-saving bulbs can reduce a household's total electricity consumption by 10-15%, with the most efficient lighting technologies using up to 5 times less electricity than the least efficient.

Rather than having to introduce primary legislation, the elimination of inefficient incandescent light bulbs will now take place under the 2005 EU Eco-design of Energy-Using Products Directive. The draft Commission Regulation is part of a suite of legislation for which the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation is responsible.

To find out exactly what will be phased out and when, see the Commission Regulation. For a progress report on the proposed measures, see the Lighting Section of the SEAI. In summary though, the timetable was as follows:

From 1st September 2009 the following were restricted from being placed on the market:

• All clear glass bulbs 100 watts or over (except for those with an energy rating of 'C' or better)

• All frosted bulbs (except CFLs and LEDs)

• All clear bulbs in energy classes F & G

Stage 2 - 1 September 2010

Phase-out of 75 W clear incandescent lamps.

Introduction of information requirements.

Stage 3 – 1 September 2011

Phase-out of 60 W clear incandescent lamps.

Stage 4 – 1 September 2012

Phase out of all remaining clear incandescent lamps (i.e. 40W and 25W).

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What types of insulation are available to upgrade the average person's home?

There are many different types of insulation for your attic, walls and floors, but for a complete overview of what is best for your home check out A Detailed Guide to Insulating Your Home. Check out too the SEAI 'Your Home' publications for loads of information on how to reduce your energy consumption in your home.

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 What kinds of renewable technologies are suitable for different situations?

There are a variety of renewable technologies available to the householder. These include solar energy, bio-energy, geothermal energy and wind energy, among others. Renewable technologies offer a variety of benefits to the householder including reduced costs, benefits to the environment and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Check out the SEAI Renewable Energy Section to see what Renewable Energy is available for the Home Owner.

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Are there grants in place for such renewable technologies?

Yes, grants are available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for building and housing projects. Visit the Grants section of the SEAI website to see what sort of funding is available.

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How much do renewable technologies cost?

The cost of these technologies varies depending on the size and model. Below are some examples of renewable technology and their associated cost. For more information on renewable technologies check out the SEAI website.

Solar Hot Water Systems can cost from €4,000 to €7,000 before you subtract the SEAI grant. The grant will substantially reduce costs by approximately by 15% to 20%.

Space heating systems will cost anything in the region of €5,000 to €15,000 before you subtract your SEAI grant money.

Complete space and water heating systems can cost in the region of €15,000 to €20,000 before you take the SEAI grant into account. This brings it down to about €13,000 to €18,000 respectively.

Heat Pump units will vary in price relative to their capacity. A 10kW heat pump will cost in the region of €4,500 to €6,000. 15kW capacity heat pumps cost in the region of €5,000 to €6,500.

Wood Chip / Pellet boilers cost in the region of €3,000 to €5,000. Eligibility for grants is based on the ability to store 90% of a year's supply on site, which means you will require an out-house storage area. Wood Chip / Pellet stoves will vary in price and can cost in the region of €2,000 or more.

Solar CPC (compound parabolic concentrator) collectors will cost around €6,600. Typically you will receive a grant of around €300 per square metre. Flat plate solar cells will cost less, but will not be as efficient.

Wind turbines can cost anything from €2,000 to €22,000 depending on the size, manufacturer and installation costs.

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Are solar panels practical for use in Irish weather?

CPC (compound parabolic concentrator) collectors are high quality solar collectors that are often deployed as water heating devices. These products are more suited to the Irish weather due to this efficiency in performance. These types of panels are easily recognisable as they are constructed of elongated cylinder tubes. Other flat solar panel types work but are not as efficient.

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Are wind turbines suitable for urban use?

A residential wind turbine can be a relatively large device and is not suitable for urban or suburban homes. Except for very small wind turbines (i.e. with rotors one metre or less in diameter) on very small towers, a property size of one acre or more is desirable. You will need planning permission. Also you will need to assess the load factor, i.e. the amount of wind energy available in your area to see if such an installation is viable.

Technology is rapidly developing is all areas of renewable energy. Novel urban friendly designs for wind turbines are emerging. However, as yet, these are still probably more suited to larger, public buildings.

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Why is turf cutting banned in some parts of the country when it is one of our only sources of fossil fuel?

Turf cutting is banned in certain designated areas in order to protect special areas of conservation (SAC), and ultimately to protect biodiversity and habitats. Much of Ireland's bogland is deemed internationally important under the Habitats Directive and is therefore protected by EU law. This initiative is unrelated to climate change. However, as a fuel, peat is a very inefficient source of energy, with greater emissions of CO2 per unit energy output than alternative fossil fuels. Therefore, there is also a legitimate argument for the reduced use of peat on the grounds of reducing GHG emissions.

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Are there professionals I can hire to do an energy audit?

Yes there are professionals that carry out energy audits. From the 1st of January 2009 a BER (Buildings Energy Rating) certificate is compulsory if you are selling or renting a property. BERs will be carried out by specially trained BER assessors, registered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). A list of BER Assessors is available on the SEAI website.


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