Do you need a car?

December 7, 2010

Few of us add up all the costs, but car ownership is one of the costliest things people do on an ongoing basis in life. While the day to day costs of petrol are significant, the annual costs of motor tax and insurance and servicing should also be factored in, while the depreciation associated with the capital outlay is the largest cost of all.

Other costs vary from person to person. The cost of parking, time, stress, fines and risk are significant.

When all costs are added up, the total cost is extremely large, just see for yourself.

CO2 Emission Bands Band A Band B Band C Band D Band E Band F Band G
Car Value 10,000 12,500 15,625 19,531 24,414 30,518 38,147
Motor Tax 104 156 302 447 630 1,050 2,100
Insurance 500 575 661 760 875 1,006 1,157
Depreciation 1,250 1,563 1,953 2,441 3,052 3,815 4,768
Interest on Capital 500 625 781 977 1,221 1,526 1,907
Parking 300 300 300 300 300 3,909 3,909
NCT 25 25 25 25 25 25 25
Servicing and Replacements 250 313 391 488 610 763 954
Petrol/10,000km 980 1,120 1,260 1,400 1,540 1,680 1,820
Oil/10,000km 10 13 16 20 24 31 38
Tyres/10,000km 100 125 156 195 244 305 381
4,019 4,814 5,845 7,054 8,521 14,109 17,060

The most common cars in Ireland are in Band C. At a running cost of €5,845 per year, how many buses, taxis, trains and car rentals would that pay for?

Average Price Trips for the same price
Train 30 195
Local Bus/train 2 2,923
Inter-city Bus 15 390
Car Rental/day 100 58
Taxi 20 292
Walks/Cycles <1 1000s

Do you need a car?

The Carbon Tax in Ireland

January 5, 2010

After many years of talk and conjecture, the Irish Government have introduced a carbon tax on transport (Diesel and Petrol) and thermal (heating) fuels. This year the rate set is €15 per tonne. This is about the middle of the rates that I had heard suggested.

Electricity isn’t included because all electricity generators are already included in a scheme called the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

“But I don’t burn CO2… so why would I care?” you say! Sorry but when you use a fuel such as coal, gas or petrol, it emits CO2. Different fuels emit different amounts, with Coal being very bad and Natural Gas being not as bad.

The Carbon Tax was added to transport fuels the day after the budget (December 10th)

The tax will come into effect on oil and gas in May

It has yet to be decided when it will take effect on solid fuels (coal and turf). I expect this is because it will be the hardest to implement.

So how much is this €15/tonne in reality? Well here is a rough idea –

Fuel commonly sold in quantities of Which would cost € Tax will lead to an increase of So that increase in % terms
Petrol Litre 1.19 4.2cent 3.5%
Auto-Diesel Litre 1.10 4.9cent 4.4%
Kerosene 1,000 Litres 516 € 43.14 8.4%
Market Gas Oil 1,000 Litres 539 € 46.87 8.7%
LPG 1,000 Litres 720 € 27.97 3.9%
Fuel Oil 1,000 Litres 600 € 52.15 8.7%
Natural Gas M3 (13,750kWh) 800 € 47.86 6.0%
Peat Briquettes Bale 3.85 39cent 10.1%
Coal Bag (40kg) 16.20 € 1.79 11.1%

As a greenie… I’m in favour of this. In theory the money (330million they say) should be spent on projects to reduce emissions and save us from “the Climate Change”. So that should mean more grants for light bulbs, planting trees and buying boats! I’ll keep you posted on it!

Dublin Bikes

October 6, 2009

I signed up the other day for the new dublin bikes service. Generally its a very good service. Pay €10 annualfee and you can use bikes to cycle around the city centre.

Dublin Bikes

Dublin Bikes

My Comments however

1. More please. I have seen manyempty stations already. That would reck my head if I went to get one, and the station was empty

2. Better management please. I’ve already seen stations that are full. Imagine how annoyed you would be if you went to drop back your bike and the station was full!

3. More stations please. I don’t like to walk a long way

4. Cover a larger area please. I live far too far out of town!

5. Make the map of where stations are a bit easier to access on the website. If you are using your mobile, accessing google maps embedded into a website is really slow. Not to worry… I’m going to put a jpg version of the map right here on this post.

Dublin bikes map

Dublin bikes map

Earth hour 09

March 28, 2009

Go on… switch off for an hour this evening at 8.30


Airlocks and how to bleed a radiator

March 3, 2009

Airlocks are a major problem in many radiator systems. When new water is added to a central heating system, a certain amount of air also enters the system. The action of the pump also draws out dissolved air from the water while slight leaks also allow air to slowly enter the system. Finally open systems (other than apartments, most systems are open systems) which are supplied with water from a tank small in the attic can cause problems where the tank is allowed to run dry for some reason, allowing air to leak into the system.

As air is lighter than water, it rises to high points in the system, this is especially noticeable within radiators. Air in radiators mean less water in the radiator and so can be detected as points which provide less heat and so are cooler to the touch, When the system is switched on, feel the top and then the bottom of the radiator – if the top is noticeably cooler than the bottom, there is a good likelihood that there is air in the radiator.

In very severe cases, the whole of the radiator may be filled with air so no difference in temperature between the bottom and the top, though the radiator in question will be cooler than the others.


How to bleed a radiator

  • If the central heating system is an open type, ensure that the water supply tank for the system in the attic has not run dry
  • If the central heating system is a sealed system, check the pressure and, if necessary, top it up as required. This is a bit more complicated so check out here for more advice.
  • When the system has heated up, switch it off completely. If you do not switch off the system, particularly the pump, there is a good chance more air will be drawn into the system while you are bleeding.
  • A “bleed key” is used to open the bleed valve. The bleed valve can be found at the top at one end of the radiator. A bleed key to fit the valve can be purchased in any good hardware shop.
  • Loosely wrap a piece of old cloth around the key to catch any expelled water. If you are careful there should be no need for a pot to catch water, but if it’s your first time, it might be prudent to have one just in case.
  • Slowly open the bleed valve by about half a turn anti clockwise. You should hear a hissing sound
  • When water starts to dribble out, close the valve. They are generally quite easily damaged so take care not to over tighten.radiator-bleed-valve

Information on the government bike scheme

February 15, 2009

So… things are beginning to look a bit like spring, so isn’t it time for you to think about making use of the government bike scheme… here are the details…

The government have put in place a scheme for employers to buy bikes for their employees. Before tax. This means that if you are lucky enough to be on the top rate of tax, you can essentially get new bike at 45% off. You can also get reflectors, locks and other bike accessories.


Think of it like this, take the top €1,000 of your wages (the one over €35,400 and so in top rate of tax-41% plus 4% prsi, more if your a civil servant). When paying it to you the employer they give you €550 and the tax man €450. Instead your employer can spend €1000 on a bike, and give it to you. The shop owner still gets the €1000, but you only lose out by €550. The one who loses out? The taxman!


If you only pay the lower rate of tax, the same thing applies, but you will only be saving €250.


If you only want to spend a smaller amount, that’s fine too. Any number up to €1,000 is ok.

Whats the catch? New bikes only! And from a shop/supplier who is tax registered, and of your employers choosing. Most of the big bike suppliers have schemes in place to make it easy for your employer though.


Other points

You need your employer to administrate the scheme, and it is voluntary for them, so you have to explain to them that it won’t cost them a penny, just a bit of administrative hassle!

Your employer doesn’t have to pay employers PRSI on the money, so saving between 8.5% and 10.75% of the money spent.

You can only make use of the scheme once every 5 years.

Electric bikes are eligible. Electric bikes are limited to those with an electric motor with a maximum rated power of 0.25 kilowatts and a max speed of 25 km/h

You also need to use a bike shop who has registered for tax. No Swedish imports for you!


The Greens have put together a nice little website here

Raleigh have a good site here


Irish Government Home Insulation Grant Scheme

February 9, 2009

Well it’s official. The “Home Energy Saving Scheme (HES)” has gone national. I reported on the pilot scheme which ran in a few regions some time ago, but now here we are, with the national role out. The gist of the scheme is that it provides grants for home owners to improve the insulation and draft proofing levels in their homes.

So how much are the grants?
Grants are fixed for each type of measure as indicated in the table below. If the cost of the work (vat inclusive) is less than the fixed grant amount, the actual cost will be reimbursed. You can apply for one, some or all of these measures.





Roof Insulation



Cavity wall insulation



Internal Wall Dry-Lining



External wall insulation


Heating Controls

High Efficiency Gas or Oil fired Boiler with Heating Controls Upgrade*



Heating Controls Upgrade*


BER Assessment (Building Energy Rating)

A Before works and an After works BER assessment


* Minimum requirement of: 2 zones (space and water) with 7 day programmer (time and temperature) control and boiler interlock, time and temperature control of electric immersion heater and either 1 more zone control or 3 TRV’s.

* There is a minimum grant amount of €500. The BER grant cannot form part of this €500 amount.

So what’s the catch (s)??
No DIY. All works must be completed by a contractor from SEI’s Registered List, which will be published when the scheme opens for homeowner applications. The list is being assembled as of now. If undertaking a BER, these must be completed by a registered BER assessor. A list of registered assessors is available on the SEI website

No grants for work you’ve already done.

Hold your horses!!!

The scheme is not open to home owners just yet. The plan is to put together a list of installers put together. ASAP. Then get going. As you need a grant approval before you start, you can’t start yet. Hold it now!!!


Want to know more? Check out

Curtains – Fair use policy

January 19, 2009

A little while ago I wrote a post about the Curtains stating that they are the best value for money energy efficiency measure. Well recently I visited a house that had thrown that out the window (no pun intended).


If your house has radiators under the windows like the one shown here, then take care that the curtains are not closed on the room side of them, trapping the heat they emit away from the room beside the window. This crazy set up happens a lot and means the heating system is mainly working to heat the earth, not your house. If your house has this problem, make sure to put the curtains between the radiators and the window, directing the heat into the room.

Niall Mellon Township Trust – Table Quiz

January 12, 2009

If there is an advertising value to this blog, we are pointing it firmly in the direction of the Niall Mellon Township Trust. So as we’ve never asked our readers to look at general… profitable… ads… Well not its time to pay up.

We are holding a table quiz in Madigans of Donnybrook at 8pm on Thursday 29th January. A fun night will be had by all and a better cause you will not find. 

So come on down, see you there

Reply to Consultation on Domestic Export Tariff

January 7, 2009

Hey Folks,

The CER and ESB Customer Supply are coming together to offer an export tariff to domestic home owners. So the idea is that if you install a Wind turbine, a Solar PV panel, or a Micro-CHP, you will be in a position to sell electricity to back to the grid for profit. The drawback is that the rate they propose to pay you will be far less than what you currently the pay for electricity. (this is explained by the difference between retail and wholesale prices. Anyway, you can find their proposal here. I’m responding to the consultation and am blogging it here. Sorry for all the acronyms, but hey… thats what google is for…


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to comment on your proposal to develop an export tariff for Domestic customers and hope that my comments are helpful and useful. Congratulations to both yourselves and to ESB Customer Supply (ESBCS) on taking this initiative.

My comments on the ESBCS proposal

Financial approach – The proposal set out by ESBCS appears to be a largely based on a simple financial calculation. This does not take into account subtle softer benefits of such generators which tend to encourage their owners to be more aware of energy use, and so reduce consumption, particularly at peak times. This will act to help Ireland Inc. reduce our National GHG emissions and improve security of supply.

Benefits of embedded generation – The proposal does not seem to recognise the benefits of such embedded generation in reducing system losses and generally strengthening the grid.

Need for increased dispatchable capacity on the grid – As identified in Eirgrid’s report on Generation Adequacy report 08, Ireland requires more installed generation plant. This initiative could act to provide some or all of that capacity.

Danger of channelling funding through ESBCS – While I understand the attractiveness of using ESBCS to provide this scheme, doing so is to create a further barrier to other suppliers entering the residential market. Could a system similar to the WPDRS be used to allow all suppliers to provide such a tariff with your support.

Though the proposal suggested that the approximate price comparison between wholesale and retail electricity is two thirds, the price of 9c/kWh is not two thirds of the published domestic kWh tariff, of 16.4c/kWh.


General  comments

Environmental approach – The proposal does not focus on the environmental benefits of many of the likely technologies to be included in the scheme.

Capacity/Reserve/AER/Wind/REFIT/WPDRS tariff structures – In the past financial structures have been created to facilitate generators which bring benefits to the system which are not simply kWh based. I propose that a similar pragmatic approach be taken here.

Licence to build/generate – Using the current structure, registration of such a large number of generators by yourselves will create great challenges for both the generator owners and yourselves. Is a simpler solution being developed?

The existing Grid Code is not suitable for consumption of domestic generator owners, though the risk their generators will create is potentially greater than all the existing capacity on the grid. Is a more suitable guide/code on the way for their benefit?

Of all the benefits I have mentioned here, greater benefits could be exploited by introducing a similar scheme for small and medium businesses. Could such a scheme be fast-tracked for their benefit.


In conclusion

I believe that the potential scale, environment and security of supply benefits of this scheme are being severely underestimated by this proposal. Furthermore I disagree with asking ESBCS to act as the main agent for the scheme. Provision of funding could be provided by the CER to be paid to any supplier who offers such a tariff. Finally I believe that the administrative burdens this will create are significant, and should not be underestimated.

While I congratulate you greatly on the proposal, I do believe that a larger tariff should be introduced considering the benefits the scheme will bring. A simple net metering structure would provide a far greater incentive and a greater benefit to us all.