Save Energy Blogs December 2011

Save Energy Families Blogs

December 2011

Our Energy Ambassador Families were asked to complete their 2nd task "Turn It Down" this month.  Here's how the families got on:


Berenice and her family also in Sligo

December… sun, sea and barbecues … mmm that seems like such a long time ago! During the summer in South Africa we would normally experience temperatures in the mid twenties at night and easily between 35°C– 40°C during the day.  So having to rely on artificial heat to keep the house warm is rather unnatural for me, luckily as Terry is the local Irishman it’s not unusual for him. I never realised how expensive it is to keep a household going by using heating, whether it is using fossil fuels or renewable energy.

Again not being used to using artificial heating in SA and having had prepaid electricity [which allows one to be more aware of the amount of electricity one uses]. So it was rather a novelty getting used to the heating and then also paying for the electricity afterwards here. And we just use to switch it on and not think about the cost. But having used the energy monitor over the last while it has made all of us realise what the cost of switching on the oven, television, etc really is. So we have not been leaving appliances on “Stand by” mode anymore, the microwave on standby being the biggest culprit.

So ““Turn It Down” – Reducing Heating Use” will also be applied to the electrical usage now, as it is possible to get by with less.


Aine & her family in Dublin

We don't have our heating on timer any more in the evening.  It's on for 30 minutes in the mornng so that we have enough hot water for the power shower but that's it.  Kids shower is electric so don't need it for them.  We press boost on the heating when we need it in the evening, for one hour at a time.  We have only had it on for 2 hours or so max each evening.

We turned our thermostat down from 22 deg (2 years ago, in the good aul times) to 18 degrees now and nobody has complained of the difference.  One thing we have changed though is to make sure to have some kind of long sleeve base layer on and put floor length curtains on the French doors in the kitchen, place is much snugger since!


Michaela and her family live in Wexford:

Well, it is a week before Christmas and like many we were busy this month.  The task was quite a tricky one for us as our geothermal heat system is not responsive to immediate requests as it is a much more gradual implementation of the input programme.

Also, having previously lived in Italy for a number of years in a very old house with virtually non-existent heating, we became rather used to being cold,and wearing more clothing layers.

This is pertinent because we already maintain a lower internal temperature than most people would be comfortable with but our time away really taught us that most homes here are overheated. I know that in some of our extended families homes they are warm enough at the end of an evening to wear a T-shirt!

So, overall, this task didn't have that huge an impact on us as a family except to say that in the late evening when the temp registered 14 degrees for a number of hours even we found it too cold and although no one complained we did have to use extra clothing layers,and throws while sitting in the evening (which I keep on the arms of each sofa anyway and use in normal circumstances)

There are also other benefits to maintaining lower internal temperatures – it may be coincidence but only the two boys have suffered headcolds in the last 3 years but they spend their days in the overheated breeding ground that is their classroom! Neither myself nor my husband have yet succumbed, thankfully.

So, with task complete, we can look forward this evening to a more comfortable internal core temperature of 16-18 degrees.

All that remains is to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and hope 2012 is a better year for you all.

                                      Michaela, Padraic, Michael and Harry



Mandie and her family in Sligo:

Martin used to have his thermostat on 20 degrees Celsius constantly when I first met him.  I wasn’t that keen on a house being so warm so every chance I got, I put the temperature down.  In Ireland, because of the different heating system we had to learn all about oil fired heating.  We ran out of oil on Christmas Day 2005 because we hadn’t had to think about filling up the tank before this.

Because of the current financial climate here in Ireland, we have had to really tighten our belts in regards to finances, just like everybody.   Luckily, the winter hasn’t been too severe up to now so we have managed to keep the heating off during the day and only putting it on during the night.  The last few days I have been switching the timer off a little earlier every day and nobody seems to have noticed. Then again, my children don’t seem to feel the cold, preferring to walk around with the bare amount of clothes on.

What I learnt from this was that instead of putting the heating on straight away, we reach for the jumpers first and then we put the heating on if it is still cold.  I just hope the winter will stay kind to us.


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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls