Mar 05, 2021

Friday, March 5, World Energy Efficiency Day is celebrated, a day to reflect on the efficient use of energy in all areas. Among them, that of energy use in the home, which sometimes goes unnoticed, even though the housing stock (overall country’s energy use) is responsible for 40% of energy consumption, especially in heating and electricity.

An energy that is rarely used efficiently and responsibly, since only in Malta the average increase in household energy consumption of 5%/year was observed between 2010 and 2017. It can be mainly attributed to an increase in population (+2%/year), as well as due to an increasing number of appliances per household reflecting economic growth. Heating requirements are on the lower end of the scale when compared to other Member States.

Added to this phenomenon is that, of the sale and purchase operations in our country, a great deal usually corresponds to second-hand homes and more than half need rehabilitation works to improve their condition and habitability in order to become efficient and sustainable homes. Currently in Malta, the households that have certificates of type A or B continue to be a minority, with type F-G being the most common.

A situation far from the objective set by the European Green Pact of decarbonisation of cities and climate neutrality for the year 2050, for which an annual renovation rate of 2-3% of buildings in the whole of the EU would be necessary. In Malta, this number is much more dramatic, highlighting the need to make changes in the way of both building and renovating our homes.

In this day of reflection on energy efficiency, we in Dardingli want to highlight the importance of sustainability and energy efficiency in homes. We have prepared a guide of recommendations with the factors that define an energy home, what refurbishment and habits help to improve sustainability and day-to-day tricks for efficient and responsible energy use in homes.

Factors that define an energetic efficient home

The guidelines which future owners should consider, in terms of energy efficiency, to acquire an efficient home are:

  • Thermal insulation in floors, walls and windows.

  • Efficient heating systems, preferably from renewable energies, such as aerothermal or geothermal.

  • Photovoltaic solar panels, for the generation of electricity, and thermal, to produce hot water from solar energy.

  • Housing with enough natural light to contribute to saving electricity.

  • Home automation systems for turning lights and household appliances on and off.

Refurbishments in favour of energy efficiency

However, if a home does not have all of these parameters, by undertaking some refurbishment or a comprehensive rehabilitation, it can become a more efficient and sustainable home. Among the main energy improvement works are:

Thermal insulation: to improve this aspect, refurbishment works can be carried out in the three or in any of the key elements: floor, walls and windows, with an estimated cost of between 2,000 and 3,000 euros, depending on each type of housing and of the refurbishment to be carried out.

In walls and ceilings, these refurbishments will consist of the installation of insulators such as polystyrene, mineral wool, EPS sheets or wood fibre panels, as well as thermal paints, which improve up to 25% of the insulation. In floors, it is best to have a thermal insulation base or a wooden floor. And, in the windows, bet on hermetic closures and double glazing, which will save up to 30% in energy.

Efficient heating system: Malta is not a cold country, but in the months of January and February the number of portable electric heaters in use will surprise us in the increased rates on the electricity bill. These systems are not optimal for energy efficiency. Instead, it is better to use gas or renewable energies, such as aerothermal (heat pump that uses air and depends on the weather conditions outside) or geothermal (water heat pump that comes from inside the subsoil). Both options can lead to savings of up to 35% on energy bills.

Another increasingly widespread alternative is the installation of underfloor heating, a system that works with aerothermal or geothermal energy, with an exceptionally low water supply temperature (30-45ºC) compared to traditional radiator systems (70-75ºC).

Installation of solar panels: betting on the use of solar panels helps reduce up to 18 tons per year of polluting gases in a single home, these systems are suitable throughout the Maltese geography. The photovoltaic type allows the generation of electricity in a sustainable way and a saving on the electricity bill. The thermal type helps to generate hot water, without the need to use traditional systems such as electric or gas boilers which account for 26% of energy consumption in a home.

Home automation and modern electricity system: lighting accounts for approximately 15% of global electricity consumption and 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Installing a modern and energetically sustainable electricity system involves an investment of between 2,000 and 3,000 euros in a 100 m2 flat. Likewise, including a home automation system to turn lights and appliances on and off is also a good investment for the sustainability of the home.

Tricks at home to improve efficiency.

If it is not possible to undertake refurbishments, good habits can be incorporated into the home to take care of the environment whilst saving:

  • Natural light: making the most of natural light available is a key trick to conserving electricity. Keep windows open in order to let the light in to avoid turning on artificial lights. In addition the use of LED type bulbs for lower consumption, instead of traditional bulbs.

  • Hot water: a good practice and a low investment we recommend to use flow reducers and mixer taps with thermostats. These will benefit the environment and help save between 30 and 200 euros on the water bill. In addition, opting for a shower instead of a bath for less consumption.

  • Heating: keep the temperature at around 20 degrees, this is because with each degree increased, the cost increases between 5% and 10%. In addition, at night, instead of turning the heating off, it is better to keep the temperature at about 15º. Another good habit is to dress warmly and do not cover the radiators.

  • Home appliances: the commitment to low-consumption appliances is one of the simplest renovations and one that represents a great benefit for domestic savings and the environment. To choose the most efficient appliances, a new, more demanding labelling, launched on 1st March, must be taken into account: the typologies A +++, A ++ and A + cease to exist and the scale will go from A (most efficient) to G (the least). Thus, those currently classified as A go to class B or C and the current category A will be for newly created electrical appliances.

Likewise, incorporating good habits in the use of current electrical appliances also favours environmental care. Among these good habits:

  • Do not abuse the oven, as it is one of the more high consuming appliances. Do not open it more than necessary while cooking as it loses about 20 degrees in temperature and consumes more in order to reheat.

  • Take advantage of the residual heat from the glass ceramic and the fire, turning it off a few minutes before the food is ready.

  • In the refrigerator, keeping 5º for refrigeration and -18 for freezing. Not opening it too frequently will contribute to savings.

  • It is better to use a dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand, this is due to the continuous running of hot water that it entails, which is 40% more costly.

  • When starting the washing machine, it is advisable to opt for short wash cycles and cold or warm water with full loads.

  • Avoid using the tumble dryer where possible and choose to dry your clothes in the open air, whenever the weather conditions allow it.

Electrical appliances: replace normal screens with LCDs to save up to 37% energy, fully charge the battery in airplane mode to make it faster.

Teleworking and energy efficiency: now that remote work is a reality in many homes, it is advisable to incorporate good habits such as not wasting paper, using digital tools whenever possible,  not printing more than is strictly necessary. It is also important to avoid leaving your computer or other electronic devices in standby mode.

Recycling: always ensure good separation of waste for correct recycling, keeping in mind the principle of the 3Rs of Ecology: Recycle, reduce and reuse.

With these simple tricks in the daily routine of the home, we can all do our bit for energy efficiency. In the medium-long term, thinking about complete refurbishments or props will contribute to achieving the objective of the European Green Deal, which seeks environmental excellence in Real Estate throughout the EU.

If you wish to further reduce your energy footprint and find an energy efficient home, Dardingli with our partners will help you find the perfect fit for you to live in the home of your dreams and save on your electricity bill.
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