Oct 182010

home energy saving tipsWe’re constantly being told to cut back on our energy usage these days. Climate change is an ever present spectre, energy prices are heading through the roof, and the typical Irish household has less money to play with, making efficient energy usage more of a priority than ever.

I know these tips are hardly ground-breaking, but I do think they’re worth revisiting as we enter  the colder months.

Easy steps to improve home energy efficiency

Insulate your home

Insulating your home properly is perhaps the single most important step you can take to reduce your energy consumption this winter.

  • Insulating your attic effectively can save up to 20% of your annual home heating costs according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. If your insulation is less than 200mm thick, consider adding layers.
  • Fit a lagging jacket to your hot water cylinder if you don’t have one — it will keep your water hotter for longer, and will typically pay for itself within 2-3 months.
  • Fit a factory insulated cylinder if you’re replacing your existing one — the insulation is more effective and durable than a lagging jacket, and can’t be knocked out of place.
  • Insulate behind radiators, especially on external walls. Use reflective foil to direct heat out into the room.
  • External wall insulation can often be improved — the most popular options are insulated dry lining on interior walls, blown mineral, cellulose fibre or polystyrene beads into the wall cavity, or rigid external insulation. Continue reading »
Jul 092009
Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathu...

Image via Wikipedia

I was sitting watching telly the other night when a movement outside the window caught my eye. I took a closer look, but couldn’t see anything, so turned my attention back to the television.

There it was again. This time I looked for a bit longer, and sure enough I saw a tiny creature emerge from the eaves of the house, silhouetted briefly against the darkening sky.

The bats were back.

Irish bats hibernate through the winter, and stir into life again the following spring. In summer the expectant females set up maternity roosts in old buildings, attic spaces, under bridges and other suitable locations, where they give birth to and rear their young. Despite their small size the bats I was watching were adults, leaving the roost to feed on nocturnal insects.

Continue reading »

Mar 102008

I was intrigued to read this week that UK scientists are developing a technique to coat the steel sheets used in fabrication of industrial buildings with a solar powered paint which could, theoretically, result in warehouses whose entire surface area could convert solar energy into electricity.

Steel sheets are painted rapidly in steel mills by passing them through rollers. A consortium led by Swansea University, UK, hopes to use that process to cover steel sheets with a photovoltaic paint at up to 40 square metres per minute.

The paint will take advantage of dye-sensitised solar cells. They’re less efficient than conventional silicone based cells, but are also much cheaper, and can be applied to surfaces as a liquid.

“We should see a commercial cell in two-and-a-half years,” Dr David Worsley, leader of the Swansea team, told New Scientist.

There are still plenty of obstacles to overcome — but it’s an intriguing technology with potentially enormous global potential for harnessing the sun’s energy.

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