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Sustainable Housing With Liz O Kane

Wednesday, 12 September 2007


Liz has the lowdown on how to reduce heating costs with sustainable products and sustainable housing

Sustainability is the new buzz word in terms of property. This week we look at a sustainable product that is easy to install and will reduce heating costs. Then we'll look at new sustainable housing around the country and why developers need to be seriously addressing this issue. We will also continue the appeal for County Challenge.
With gas and oil prices set to rise to higher levels and with ongoing issues surrounding our carbon foot print; the biggest task facing home owners is reducing heating costs and outgoings in a sustainable manner.

Liz O'Kane - Property Expert
Liz is best known to viewers since 2004 as the enthusiastic, energetic expert and presenter on RTE's, House Hunters and House Hunters in the Sun series, where she lends her advice and expertise to property hunting participants.  This is Liz's second season as the property pundit for The Afternoon Show, where her main challenge is to find property gem's and bargains around Ireland as well as commenting on the current market.

Liz has also written a weekly property column for The Evening Herald as well as submitting regularly to other publications including the House Hunters in the Sun magazine.  She is also a regular commentator on radio and press and is known for her 'matter of fact' attitude and uncomplicated manner of explaining things.
Liz runs her home finding business is married to Rory an architect and has two children, Rossa aged 8 and Ellie aged 5 and a half.      

What does sustainable housing actually mean?    
Sustainable housing is housing which is planned, designed and built in a way that makes it socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. Simply this means, having homes that are going to use water and energy resources in the most efficient way possible and with minimum waste and cost.

Sustainable homes are more cost effective, more comfortable to live in and over time if you're currently living in a non-sustainable built home (as most of us are) but are considering energy efficient changes, your home will ultimately become more cost effective to run.

What is the Greener Homes Scheme?         
SEI (sustainable energy Ireland) is administering the 'greener homes' scheme This is a grant aided scheme for domestic renewable heat technologies. For the first time ever, house holders will be able to obtain grants for the installation of wood pellet stoves and boilers, solar panels and geothermal pumps.

Grant aid from €1,100 - €6,500 can be obtained depending on the technology chosen

All information on grants and registered providers of sustainable products is available from SEI - on 01-8369080 or log on to

Is there a product that is a quick and cost effective method of reducing heating costs now that the winter is approaching?   
The product that I have been most impressed with to date, is a quick acting energy efficient solution that is easily installed."Insulite" is a spray foam that is sprayed between the rafters in your attic or your cavity walls or both.

We all know that heat rises, so up to 40% of your heating can be lost through the roof - so this is the most vital area to protect or insulate. This product has a 25 year guarantee, helps to keep your house cool in summer and warm in winter, is environmentally friendly, odourless and takes no more that 3 to 4 hours to install.
The average home is in the region of 1400 sq. ft. and for this size property the cost will be for a roof installation around €1800 (TBC)
Insulite can be contacted on or telephone 01-8427932

Are developers addressing green issues and are there any sustainable housing around the country?
Developers have to think seriously about it, as more people become aware and concerned about green issues, but for a lot of developers it's a question of cost, as it's significantly more expensive to build sustainable housing.  However there are those who have hit it straight on and here are some examples of good sustainable developments around the country:

The Properties

Contemporary design and specification
Airtight, timber frame construction with high performance insulation in the walls, floors and roof
Solar panels using sunlight providing free hot water
Argon gas filled double glazing
Each house comes with its own organic composting unit and there is a recycling area on site.

Prices start at €415,000 for 3 bed mid terraced house and €495,000 for a 4 bed mid terrace house

Approved and sponsored by Sustainable Energy Ireland
Energy efficient construction
High levels of insulation
Heating system combines solar panels to heat water and wood pellet burning boiler                                                                                                        for the central heating
Prices start at €225,000 for 3 bed terraced and €230,000 for a 3 bed semi-detached 

Wood pellet burning boiler for the central heating.

Innovative heating and ventilation system, using renewable energy and solar heating to provide a continuous supply or warmed fresh air.
Airtight housing was vital throughout the build and air monitors were used throughout the build

The developer claims this will reduce energy bills by up to 60%!
This development has been supported by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI)

3 Bedroom House - €465,000 - €480,000
(depending on orientation and garden size)

4 Bedroom Houses - €575,000 - €610,000
(depending on orientation and garden size)

Manx Construction are currently developing a housing estate of four bed detached and semi detached houses located at Williamstown, Co Galway. Williamstown is approximately 50mins from Galway city, Athlone, Castlebar and Longford.
This development consists of 17 houses only. All finished to a very high standard to include painting, brick paved driveways and landscaped gardens.New technologies used to provide an Energy efficient spec include:Insulation upgrade, a total of 175mm on all walls, attic insulation is 400mm and 100mm on all floors.All houses have to pass 'Airtightness test' as we are using heat recovery ventilation.Solar panels are used to supply hot water for domestic use.

All this new technology is backed by a highly efficient condensing oil boiler.Therefore all these homes are 'A' rated through a system that is understood and trusted by everyone.
The cost of heating should be around €300 per year based on average usage and temperatures.The launching date has yet to be finalized. You can find up to date information and launch date when decided will be posted on:

Prices start at €190,000 for a semi detached house and
€250,000 for a detached house

If you're ready to buy a new home, whether you are upgrading or downsizing but simply don't have the time to research the market Liz is here to help.

Email us your wish list for your ideal property. Let us know exactly what you are looking for and most importantly your available budget, plus where you want to live. One lucky viewer will get Liz's expert advice. If you are chosen Liz will find 4 homes in your chosen area that she believes might meet your needs. Next week we will discuss her chosen options for you on the show.

To apply: Send us your contact details and photos of you, your family, pets, current home etc so we can get a feel for who you are.
Send all of your information to with County Challenge in the subject line.
Or post to: The Afternoon Show, Montrose House, RTE, Donnybrook, Dublin 4


Our property expert Liz O Kane