Support for Cork households facing higher energy use during Covid-19 lockdown

With an estimated increase of 46 per cent more people across Ireland working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns have been raised over households facing higher bills as their energy consumption increases during the lockdown. 

Bills are likely to rise in the coming months as, even with the weather starting to turn warmer, households are using more power to run their hot water, heating, computers and other appliances during the day when previously the home would be empty.

Whilst the government is providing some with financial support during this time and the crash in the price of oil has provided some relief to the almost 195,000 liquid fuel households in Cork, there is concern many will still struggle, particularly if they face reduced incomes or additional costs of looking after relatives.

OFTEC is providing advice on how to reduce energy consumption, including: 

  • Only heat the rooms you are using. Turn off individual radiators in rooms you are not using to save money. Also, in the rooms you use regularly, ensure radiators are not blocked with furniture as this reduces their effectiveness. The temperature in hallways and bedrooms should be cooler, ideally between 15-18 degrees Celsius for persons in good health. 
  • Turn the thermostat down by one degree. You can reduce your heating bill by up to 10 per cent by lowering your room temperature by just one degree. 
  • Adjust your heating timers. You may have a new routine if you are working from home so check when you heating is set to turn on. For example, if you are getting up later in the morning you may not need your house to warm up as early. With the worst of the cold weather seemingly behind us, you could also start to reduce how long your heating is on for.
  • Benefit from low oil prices now. The price of oil has decreased by over 40 per cent in recent months and now is a good time to fill your tank for the months ahead, saving you money across the year. Oil suppliers are essential works and can supply to your home during this time but be sure to observe social distance and do not interact with the driver. 
  • Speak with your energy provider. Always speak with your distributor and agree a payment plan for your energy needs. Many suppliers are prioritising deliveries to vulnerable groups such as older people, families with small children or those with underlying health conditions.
  • Book your boiler service for future. With your boiler working harder now, get a date in the diary for post lockdown, hopefully in autumn/winter, to get your boiler serviced. This will make it run more efficiently, improve safety and reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent. Confirm with the technician how best to use the settings to ensure you are using your boiler efficiently. 

OFTEC Ireland Manager, David Blevings commented, “This is an unsettling time for many people, with some households facing financial concerns and looking at how they can save money this year. The good news is that oil prices are currently low, and you can fill up to store your liquid fuel home heating for the months ahead. 

“The warmer weather will help to reduce reliance on heating and other measures such as adjusting timers and radiators may seem trivial but, over several weeks and months, the savings can really add up. They are also usually simple jobs most people can do themselves.”

The liquid fuel organisation is also lobbying Government on its long-term home heating energy strategy to ensure Irish householders have a sustainable but affordable option when upgrading their heating in the future. This will be particularly important given the predictions that financial recovery from the current Covid-19 pandemic is likely to be protracted for most homeowners. As part of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions, Government is increasing the carbon tax on home heating oil by €6/ton from May 1, 2020.

David added, “Instead of increasing tax on home heating oil we want Government to endorse and support the industry’s proposal to move to biofuels. It is the least costly and disruptive way to achieve sustainability in Ireland’s liquid fuel heating sector. The sector is committed to delivering a 100 per cent sustainable liquid fuel in the future to help reduce emissions from home heating in Ireland. A simple stepped approach introducing blended fuels is the least costly and disruptive way to achieve sustainability in Ireland’s liquid fuel heating sector.” 

For further information go to: 

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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