Borrow to save | Anglo-Celtic

Cootehill Librarian Sinead McArdle hosted fellow Clones colleague Laura Casey last week for a demonstration of how to use the new home energy saving kits, available to borrow at 100 libraries across the Republic. Photo: Damian McCarney

HOME A new energy saving kit will be rolled out to Cavan Libraries

A new kit which aims to help homeowners reduce energy use and save on household bills is set to be available to borrow from County Cavan libraries.

On Wednesday afternoon, Laura Carey of the Clones Library gave a brief demonstration of the “home energy saving kit” to a dozen people at Cootehill Library.

The kit looks simple to use and provides the data needed to uncover the clean energy waste in each person’s home – drafts, insulation faults, energy-intensive appliances. In many cases, homeowners can apply quick fixes to realize quick savings. And with a winter like no other in recent history looming on the horizon, many homeowners will be keen to take advantage of all the savings possible.

Monaghan Libraries already stocked the kits for the last year, so Laura was well aware of how to use all five devices and their merits.

“With the cost of living crisis, we are seeing a huge increase in demand for kits,” Laura told Celt.

As well as being a librarian, Laura is also responsible for the Europe Direct regional office covering Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, which is hosted in the Clones Library.

“The [EU] the institutions wanted people on the ground to feel they had a say in what happens in Europe,” she explained of the motivation behind Europe Direct. One of the EU’s main programs is the Green Deal to combat environmental degradation, one of the main elements of which is “the ‘renovation wave’ – the renovation of public and private buildings”.

“Home energy kits are our starting point because we all depend on energy every day of our lives,” she says, cradling the blue plastic briefcase.

Once opened, it’s not quite the level of sophisticated James Bond gadgetry – for example, a radiator bleed key is one of the “devices”. While the bleed key is certainly the low point from a technology standpoint, for some it may well present their biggest savings by making their heating system much more efficient.

At the other end of the gadget spectrum is the handheld “thermal leak detector”. You shine a green light on a wall to get a reference temperature, then compare it to other parts of the house. The device can be set to detect changes between 0.5 and 5.5 degrees Celsius and the light changes color; the light turns blue for the coldest points, red for the hottest points. In this way, areas of the walls where insulation may be lacking, or drafts under baseboards or around windows will be easily identified.

Another nifty device is a “plug-in energy monitor”. This is simply plugged into a wall socket, and you can then plug in, say, a hair dryer or a kettle, into the monitor and it reveals the units of electricity used by the device.

A digital temperature or humidity meter allows homeowners to check if they are effectively heating their rooms. Simply leave it in the rooms you want to measure to check that they are within the recommended temperature range: 18-20 degrees for occupied rooms (living room/kitchen) and 15-18 degrees for unoccupied rooms (hall /bedroom). Humidity levels should ideally be between 40-60% – above that and your home may have ventilation issues which could cause mold or dampness.

Fridges and freezers use a significant amount of electricity, so it’s a good idea to set them to the right temperature. One of the tools is a thermometer, which must be left in the refrigerator or freezer for 30 minutes. The ideal temperature is between 3-5 degrees C for the refrigerator and -15 to -18 degrees for the freezers. Adjusting the temperature should then be a matter of turning a dial.

Those who have borrowed the kit from Clones have often commented on how they fared.

“Some people were really shocked by the way the drafts were coming through their window boards in particular,” says Laura, noting that baseboards are also a common problem.

There are a number of effective solutions for closing drafts without using a builder. As Laura observes, “simple things can make a big difference”.

After trying it out at her home in Lavey, Laura discovered that the kettle was “most important” to her. She adds that any device with a heating element will consume a lot of energy.

“It’s about better understanding where we’re using our energy and where we’re wasting it, because we’re wasting so much energy without realizing it – leaving items on standby, refilling the kettle when we don’t have any need it, or heat it a few times when it was really good the first time you boiled it,” she says.

Laura also suggests that involving the family in using the kit could help share the burden of reducing energy waste.

“We took the kit home and let the kids go around the house doing the worksheets where they plugged in different items to see how much energy each of those items was using. We now have a few guardians of the energy at home that goes around the house and keeps us on our toes – lights are turned off in rooms where they are not needed and things like that. It creates awareness among the whole family, which is really good.

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