We have known for decades that oil and gas is a finite resource and at some stage in the near future we would need to power our world through renewable energy. What has become more clear in the last 25 years however is that the increase in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is correlating with a global temperature rises, with the last seven years being the hottest on record. If global temperatures increase to more than 2deg Celsius above pre-industrial levels, then there will be irreversible changes such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather events due to warmer oceans and atmosphere. Decarbonisation is now a priority for governments across the world and also for individuals.

This was what drove artist Molly Ellis from wildfelter.ie and her husband Shane to decarbonise their home over the last few years engaging with Energywise Ireland to assist them on their fossil fuel free journey. Firstly, moving to an electric vehicle, changing their home heating to a heat pump and eventually adding solar PV, a second EV and removing the solid fuel stove.

In the wintertime, they shift as many electrical loads to the night time as well as charging an Ergocell home storage battery and electric vehicle on night rate electricity when electricity is cheaper but also greener as the proportion of wind energy is at its greatest and carbon intensity at its lowest.

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Artist Molly and her husband Shane were featured on RTE Nationwide recently to talk about their decarbonisation journey.

Electric Car Charger

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The move would have seemed daunting only a few years ago but with help from Energywise Ireland early on in the project, Molly and Shane were able to plot out their decarbonisation journey over many years. When they purchased their first electric vehicle they asked Energywise to install a myenergi Zappi EV charger which at the time was a cutting edge product that would allow them to charge their car from both the grid and a future solar PV system. The charger had many other features such as the ability to set schedules to charge at night time, work with smart meters once flexible tariffs became available on the Irish market as well as load balancing to allow them to add a heat pump and second EV charger in the future.

Air to Water Heat Pump

They were aware at the time that their old oil boiler was at the end of its life and had started to break down, often in the middle of the night leaving them waking up to a cold house the following morning. They had a decision to make on whether to replace it with another oil boiler which might have been more efficient but that decision would then mean they would rely on fossil fuel heating for the life of that boiler which could be 20+ years. This changed their perspective completely in that decisions made today would have a profound affect for years to come.

A cosy heat pump became the obvious choice very quickly but this had to be designed and sized for the old cottage as well as the future extension they were planning. Molly and Shane engaged with Energywise Ireland to plan out a solution and timeline on how to first install the heat pump in the original cottage but then allow easy future expansion. The decision paid off in a big way in that the cost of oil heat had increased by 50% in 12 months up to the beginning of 2022.

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As the extension was going through the planning stages, Molly and Shane again engaged with Energywise for a design for their underfloor heating system. As they moved through the build they made the building as air tight as possible to retain heat, this meant fresh air would need to be provided by mechanical ventilation so Energywise designed a heat recovery ventilation system which would provide fresh air to the home. The HRV unit would transfer heat from the old stale air in the home to the new fresh air entering the building again making the home even more efficient, warm and cosy.

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Shane & Molly – “Decarbonising our home”

Energy monitoring was also installed to allow them to track where electricity was being used and what each appliance was using factoring into account day and night rates. For the whole of 2022, in combination with all of the efficiency measures and solar PV, their whole home electricity costs were €1,819 from the grid with the heat pump costing €525 and a single EV costing €456 for the whole year.

In 2022, with climate change being the most important emergency of our time and with rising energy costs, Molly and Shane will reap the rewards over time with very cheap heating and transportation costs as well as helping to protect their children’s future.

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