Since starting to work with Sustainable Travel Ireland in 2020, Slieve Elva B&B, in the Burren, Co Clare, reduced its energy use by 64.7%. Owners Kris and Ireen Claes say that a huge amount of sustainability progress flowed from small changes that they made to start with. The savings from these green initiatives funded bigger eco projects which led to bigger savings. By starting this journey, the B&B also radically reduced its carbon footprint. Read this case study to learn what this Wild Atlantic Way bed and breakfast did, the grants they received and the savings they made.
Step 1: Monitoring
The very first step that Kris and Ireen took on their energy efficiency journey was to start monitoring and recording their energy use. This meant that when they implemented changes, they were able to see what worked and how much energy was saved.
Ireen states, “Everything started with proper, frequent monitoring and collecting all data of weekly usage in 2020. This gave us a very clear insight on all areas where changes and savings could be made from tackling low-hanging fruit.”
Step 2: Start with Easy Wins
The low-hanging fruit initiatives had low costs associated with them. They included:
- Changing all lighting to LEDs.
- Installing thermostatic valves.
- Running cold washes.
- Creating awareness with all guests.
In 2020, before the above actions were taken, the B&B had an average energy use of 2.21kwh per guest per night. By 2022, this was reduced to 0.78 kWh per guest per night – a whopping saving of 64.7%.
Replacing all light bulbs with LEDs cost approximately €250. On a yearly basis, this led to savings of roughly €360. So that small investment was paid back in the first year.
Thermostatic valves cost us around €600. They save 25-30% on the heating costs which for Slieve Elva was somewhere around €550 annually. So again, that investment has almost paid for itself within one year.
Step 3: Reinvest the Surprising Monetary Savings
Spurred by the above savings and a will to do better for the planet, Kris and Ireen then invested in a solar PV system in combination with a battery system and hot water heating.
The solar PV and battery system and hot water unit was installed November 2020. The price then for a 6kw system with an 8kw battery and hot water unit was around €12,000. They received a €3,000 grant which reduced the overall investment to €9,000.
Step 4: Enjoy The Payback Rewards
The initiative now provides between 60-65% of their electricity needs which would be around €1,100 a year calculated on 2020 electricity prices. The calculated payback for the whole system when installed was eight years but since the energy crisis this has been reduced to four years.
The pair also invested in:
- Installing an EV charger (2021).
- Switching from fossil fuel heating to biogas (2023).
The EV charger cost €1,500 but they received a €600 grant from the SEAI home charger grant, reducing the cost to the business to €900. The installation of the EV charger lead to increased electricity use and there was also a cost in purchasing an electric car. However because the charger is connected through the solar system it means that the car is charged with excess solar energy instead of the excess going back onto the grid. Switching to an electric vehicle and being able to charge it mostly with ‘free’ energy also cut down fuel purchasing, resulting in €500 of savings each year on business-related shopping trips. Furthermore, the switch to an EV also had a good impact on their carbon footprint.
Step 5: Enjoy A Much Lower Carbon Footprint
The switch from oil heating to biogas heating cost €7,000. Unfortunately, there were no eligible grants available for this. The savings connected to the new efficient heating system compared to their old oil heating system is as much as 50% which results in yearly savings of €1,500. Hence this investment should be paid off within five years. And while they wait for the initiative to be paid off, they have the immediate satisfaction of knowing that by the switch to biogas means that they have almost fully eliminated their carbon footprint.
Small Actions Lead to Big Results
Speaking about the journey to energy efficiency, Ireen says, “As a very small business with limited budget, we thought bigger investments were out of reach. But by implementing small changes first, we created savings that could be reinvested in other projects. That’s how we were able to invest in solar PV, together with a battery and hot water unit.”
Learn more here about Kris and Ireen’s journey to earning Gold level sustainability certification with Sustainable Travel Ireland? Learn more here.
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