How to save money by preventing heat loss from your home

Thank you for your question. Yes, I guess we are looking down the ‘barrel’ of a perfect storm now. With oil prices at ten-year highs, daily news of melting ice caps already elevated electrical and energy bills and the advent of electric vehicles, it is no wonder that we are now beginning to look at our ageing homes and wondering how they can be brought to align with this growing drive for efficiency.

When you think about saving energy you need to consider the efficiency of your home’s fabric and the efficiency of your heating system.

Your fabric is essentially the external envelope of your building (your ground floor, external walls and top floor/attic ceiling. These need to be as efficient as possible to retain the heat you generate (and pay a high price for!).

It’s good to hear that you have already improved your thermal envelope with the introduction of cavity insulation and double glazed windows and these will certainly help you retain heat.

It should, however, be noted that double glazed windows fitted 20 years ago will be dramatically less efficient than an A-rated double glazed window fitted today.

Check all your window and external door frames for drafts. These typically occur around the edges, the opening sections, and the thresholds of doors. These could be a simple fix yourself or may require the assistance of a window repair outfit if spare parts are required.

It may in fact be the case that you can swap out some of your double glazed cells for a more efficient A-Rated double glazed cell but best to contact a window company on this to see if your frames will allow for this.

With regard to your cavity insulation, you can also have this insulation removed by a specialist contractor and a more efficient insulation installed if deemed required. An insulation company and BER specialist can advise you further here.

How to save money by preventing heat loss from your home

As you live in a bungalow, you will likely have a very sizable area of insulated ceiling between your ground floor and your attic.

Given the area it would certainly be prudent to ensure that you have about 400mm of quilt insulation fitted. I would advise checking to ensure that you have no significant sources of air leakage in this ceiling. What would be of particular note here would be your ceiling light rose/wire penetrations and indeed your recessed lights.

I would also advise contacting an electrician who can fit light hoods to create an airtight enclosure local to your lights which can then be taped to your ceilings.

Check also to ensure there are no other sources of air leakage through cracks or junctions and if these are present you could certainly repair these from above with airtightness tape which you can purchase from any builders’ merchant.

There is one thing to bear in mind here, however. It may be that while you improve the airtightness of your home you arrive at a stage where there is not sufficient air movement. Ensure that you have an array of window vents in place or indeed wall vents. In the absence of these you may need advice from a ventilation company to ensure you have adequate and managed ventilation. Clearly, there is an optimum balance to be struck here.

Finally, I would review your heating system. If your house was built in the 1980s and you still have the original boiler in place, I would highly advise that you seek a quote from a registered plumber for the installation of a condensing boiler. Though you are still burning fossil fuel (which is now discouraged) your boiler is dramatically more efficient in terms of fuel and emissions.

Hopefully, by the time you have some of these measures in place, fuel prices and energy bills will have stabilised and we can all look to a more environmentally conscious and peaceful future.

Civil engineer Kieran McCarthy is founder, and design and build director with KMC Homes. He is a co-presenter of the RTÉ show Cheap Irish Homes.

The hugely relevant and popular TV show Cheap Irish Homes is returning for a third, eight-part series, and is seeking participants. Co-presenters Maggie Molloy and Kieran McCarthy say that in return for buyers being willing to do a bit of work, they’ll unearth properties within reach of those on a tight budget, be it a cottage, townhouse or a village or town shop or pub to convert.

Applicants must be available for filming over a number of days between April and September 2022.

To apply to take part in the show, email: