Demystifying My Home’s Electricity And Gas Heating Expenses In Ireland
Using National Benchmarks, Smart Home, And Real-Time Monitoring To Investigate High Electricity And Gas Bills
I sometimes wondered whether my expenses for electricity and gas are high. But how to figure it out?
Here’s my research into it.
Electricity Benchmarks In Ireland
As per data from SEAI, the annual average is 4,200kWh for a 3-bedroom house. As per Bonkers.ie, the national average is 5,043kWh. Switcher.ie says the average electricity bill in the mid to high range is from 4,200 to 5,400kWh. Central Statistics Office says the median is 3,594, whereas the median in Dublin 14 is 3,611kWh.
This gives an annual range from 3,611 to 5,400kWh.
Our Household Electricity Consumption
We are in Dublin 14 and have a 4-bedroom house. So, we can use the above numbers. Our past annual electricity consumption was around 6,200 - 6,300 kWh. If we compare our range with the benchmark range, we range from 15% higher (6200 vs 5400) to 74% higher (6300 vs 3611).
If we drop the 3,611 benchmark in favor of the 4,200 benchmark of 3-bedroom houses, then our consumption is 48% higher than the national average of 3-bedroom houses.
Approximately 50% higher.
How To Measure Our Electricity Usage?
I installed Local Bytes energy monitoring plugs, Tapo smart plugs, and Emporia Vue energy monitoring system. These all paired with my Home Assistant. They gave me graphs and dashboards of energy measurement. I wrote about smart home architecture here.
What Consumes 50% More Electricity Than The Nation?
I reviewed the energy monitoring output and talked to friends to understand their electricity usage. Here are the likely culprits.
We use a vented dryer, which is less energy efficient than condenser or heat-pump dryers. But, I will continue using it as our dryer is in the back garden so other types of dryers may not work in extreme winter.
We have two fridges and two (attached) freezers. This might double the energy used to refrigerate food.
Our cooking is on an electric hob. We cook a lot of food at home. I calculated I eat 2.5 kgs of food a day. All the household cooking also increases electricity consumption, but I am not looking to change cooking
There were smaller elements.
I used to heat an entire kettle pot every day multiple times. I stopped doing that. I instead boil only as much water as required.
We liked our home warm. Indian warm. That meant we needed to turn on our ceiling fans, even during winter months, to get good sleep. Now, I let the bedrooms cool down to 18*C and wear jackets at home. It reduces the need to turn on fans, while also improving sleep quality.
Gas Heating Benchmarks In Ireland
Gas is consumed in cubic meters but also recorded as kWh. SEAI residential statistics are 15,383 kWh per year. National average gas consumption as per Bonkers.ie is 11,000 kWh. Switcher.ie has a guide for energy bills. It says to expect 11,000 to 13,700 kWh per year. CSO of Ireland says 9,974 kWh for an end-of-terrace home.
So, this is a range of 10,000 to 15,000 kWh per year.
Our Household Gas Heating Consumption
Our past usage is between 21,500 and 23,100kWh. For a 145 sq.m. house, this comes to 151kWh per sq.m. Looking by SEAI benchmarks, that would classify this house worse than a G-rated house. Our household consumption is between 43% (21500 vs. 10000) and 131% (23100 vs. 10000) higher than the national average. Let’s take 22,000 and 13,000, which tells us our gas heating energy consumption is approximately 80% higher than the national average.
What Consumes 80% More Gas Heating Than The Nation?
I use Tado to control and track gas energy consumption. I can set a different temperature in each room in the house every day of the week, any minute. Here are the likely culprits.
Our extension room on the ground floor has a large volume, a corner radiator, and inefficient plumbing. The room also has a lot of windows and doors, causing heat loss.
I set Tado to comfort settings. It understands my desires. I desire the dining room at a comfortable temperature by 7 am. So, Tado system starts heating at 4 or 5 am based on its calculation of heating curves.
My spouse and I work from home, so we keep our home heated all week. We only heat certain parts of the house, but we still use the boiler more compared to when we used to commute to work.
Tado heats the converted attic not from the house heating but from the hot water heating. So whenever I want to heat the attic, I waste energy heating the water tank.
The hot water tank does not have temperature feedback to the Tado system. So, the water might not need any more heating, but the Tado controller wouldn’t know that.
My house help opens up all windows the day she comes. So, the temperature drops in most rooms once a week. This action necessitates re-heating.
We like to keep our house warm. Indian level warm. We like roaming in thin T-shirts at home. We do not like wearing sweaters or jackets at home.
Our laundry and the extra fridge are in a shed in the back garden. So, we would often open doors to go out. We lose hot air during those times.
What helped us reduce some of the costs?
We changed the Tado comfort mode to normal mode. So, for less comfort, we also pay less.
We reduced the set point temperatures in most rooms by 1-2*C. Earlier, there were some rooms set to 24*C earlier. Now there are some rooms set to 15*C.
We close the doors behind us when we step into the back garden.
We reduced the heating in the extension. We choose to use the room less often during winter.
We requested our house help not to open any windows.
We wear jackets or sweaters at home.
Turning off the heating in summer.
I’ve also requested a BER survey to find avenues of improvement.
I will write about smart home automation in another article. I will also post how the renovations go.