Yikes! This is how much forgetting to turn off the immersion could be costing you each year

One of the scariest memories of an Irish childhood has to be the horror moment of recognition after forgetting to turn off the immersion heater, but it seems many of us still have not learned our lesson.

A new study has found that one in four people regularly forget to flick off the immersion after a bath or shower, despite years of scoldings and the bad habit could be costing them.   

Research from Bord Gais Energy has revealed that regularly forgetting about the immersion could add up to €1500 to your electricity bill annually.

The study, which examined the wasteful habits of over one thousand homemakers, also found that one in three people regularly leave lights on when they aren't needed, and 50pc of us boil the kettle several times for one cup of tea as we become distracted.

However, more of us are becoming tech-savvy when it comes to our electricity use. The company said 58pc of Irish people believe smart technology would make their homes better, as Bord Gais Energy continues to promote its tech brand Hive.

Commenting on the findings, Nina Bhatia, MD of Centrica Connected Home said: "Households across Ireland are clearly beginning to embrace smart home technology but it’s interesting to see that, while the number one desire for smart technology in the home is to help save energy, old habits such as forgetting to turn the immersion off and repeatedly boiling the kettle continue to be common daily occurrences.

"Our mission is to make the smart home real for everyone, with affordable, easy to use solutions."

How 30pc of houses for sale can’t find buyers despite crisis. Despite crisis, large number of homes remain unsold

One-in-three houses put on the market almost three months ago has failed to sell.

A snapshot of almost 200 properties across 15 counties ranging from two-bed apartments to €1m-plus homes shows that 30pc, or 58, remain on the market despite the housing shortage.

Experts said that in many cases, houses were overpriced leading them to be slower to trade hands. However, some expressed surprise at the lack of movement, given the housing crisis.

Details of 193 houses and apartments for sale on Daft.ie were recorded on March 9 and March 13 last.

They include two-bed apartments, three and four-bed houses and luxury homes costing at least €1m.

As of June 1, 135 were sold or withdrawn from the market and 58 remained unsold.

One property source expressed surprise at the number of unsold homes, suggesting that given the low levels of stock people were snapping up units, even those in poor condition in need of substantial work.

"We're reading every day that there's not a lot of stock, and I'm surprised to hear that," one said.

"A lot of people would be happy to take on a refurbishment job because it might be a cheaper option, and there may not be much competition. The mid-level stuff like a regular three-bed semi-D is the most sought-after thing."

But the figures show that even in areas of high demand, not all homes are selling.

Of 56 properties recorded in Dublin, 15 remain on the market - 26pc. In Cork, four of 13 are on the market, or 30pc. In Galway City, 11 homes were noted and four are unsold, or 36pc.

While three-bed homes are in demand, particularly for families getting onto the property ladders, some are not shifting. Details of 16 three-bed semi-detached homes in Dublin were recorded, and three remain on the market.

However, they are relatively expensive, with the cheapest in Marino priced at €425,000 and the most expensive in Rathgar costing €600,000.

The figures also show:

  • Of 59 two-bed apartments, 14 remain unsold, or 23.7pc. Four of 16 in Dublin are unsold. One unit in Kilkenny remains unsold.
  • Of 62 three-bed houses, 14 - or 22.6pc - are still on the market. Three out of 16 in Dublin, one from four in Cork and one from four in Galway City are unsold, despite high demand in these areas.
  • Of the 62 four-bed homes offered for sale, 24 - or 38pc - remain unsold.

In some cases, auctioneers have dropped the price due to lack of demand, with some properties also withdrawn from sale.

However, regional director of estate agents RE/MAX John Fogarty said that in many cases properties remained unsold because they were overpriced.

He said that in rural areas, most properties would not remain on the market for more than six weeks. In Dublin, it could take just 10 days to sell a home.

He said agents should be aware of what similar homes were selling for by examining the Property Price Register, which records the selling price of all homes, and through market knowledge.

"At the high end, what can happen is an owner may have an expectation that is not in agreement with what the agent says. In my opinion, those properties should not go on the market," he said.

"You might get a trophy home which was €3m at the height of the boom.

"Some properties of these type don't sell because the vendor wants a certain price.

"With three and four-beds, the agent will look at what similar properties went for in the months previously, and the property price register.

"You would also ring around the agents and they may have an offer in excess of the asking price.

"Because there's a shortage of properties, some firms are going in €20,000 dearer and the consumer runs with that. If customers interview three agents and one has a silly figure, they need to be aware of that."

Chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers Pat Davitt said there was "no doubt" that some homes were over-priced, but added that the market was not as strong as portrayed in some areas.

"The market is being blown up to be a lot stronger than it is in a lot of places. There's different areas of Dublin selling very well.

"But in other (parts of the city) people won't pay the asking price, they are more discerning. If the first-time buyers grant encourages more to build properties, the price of housing will come down."

Revealed: the rental trap that aspiring homeowners fall into

Families, older and better-paid people now stuck renting, according to survey

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The true extent of how Ireland's rental trap has snared aspiring homeowners is revealed today as just 15pc of current renters believe they can acquire a home within the next year.

More than a third now believe it will be more than five years before they can manage to get on the property ladder.

This is even despite the fact that almost all renters are determined to get out of rental accommodation and to own their own home eventually (95pc), with just 5pc resigned to remaining in rental forever.

However, less than one third of current renters said that they could afford a deposit of more than €5,000. This compares with a deposit on an average new home in the capital which currently stands at €30,000 or higher.

The rental survey published today was commissioned by the Irish Independent through the Real Estate Alliance (REA) and taken from the opinions of more than 300 people currently renting in Dublin.

It shows that many are stuck unwillingly in rental accommodation even despite earning high salaries - more than a third of current renters are earning in excess of €60,000 per annum.

Renting is increasingly the lot of couples, with 57pc of all renters in the capital either married or living with a partner. Stock image

Two thirds (66.3pc) are earning more than €40,000, an income that in previous times would have got them on the housing ladder. However, in a 'Catch 22' situation, their saving abilities are being hampered by soaring rents.

Read More: A 'Rent to Buy' scheme could be a happy halfway house and give families security

More than half are now shelling out more than €1,300 per month in rent, with 27pc in the band between €1,300 and €1,500 and a further 14pc paying between €1,500 and €1,750.

And in a break with the Irish tradition of starting a family in the first-bought home, it emerges that 22.5pc of renters already have children.

Renting is increasingly the lot of couples, with 57pc of all renters in the capital either married or living with a partner.

Deposits are seen as the biggest obstacle, with almost half (48pc) citing the lack of funds for a deposit as a key barrier. After deposits, 29pc cite their earnings falling short as the main reason.

And an indicator of a possible solution to their woes might come in the form of a 'rent to buy' scheme, with an overwhelming 81pc of renters saying they would move into their ideal home today, within a commutable distance of Dublin, if they could rent the property for a few years before buying.

Rental certainty over a five-year period was the most important factor in making such a scheme work, with most people being prepared to pay a deposit to secure the right to buy after five years.

"This survey is a resounding statement that long-term rental is not what people want," said REA spokesperson Healy Hynes (right).

"Despite a demographic change towards families renting, it is clear it is not their desired long-term solution. Much has been made in the population figures of a shift from home ownership to rental. However, this is a response to the housing supply issue rather than a lifestyle decision," he said. "The fact that 37pc of renters feel they will not own a home within five years shows how the odds are stacked against them in the current climate where it is cheaper to pay a mortgage than to rent."

A person looking to buy a house at €250,000 (among the very cheapest in Dublin) must raise a deposit of at least €25,000, leaving them with a mortgage of €225,000 and average monthly repayments of €1,000.

However, this repayment is about €500 cheaper than the average rent being paid by the survey's respondents, meaning that they could save €6,000 per year by purchasing a house.

The majority of respondents are living in South Dublin (35pc) and the city centre (29pc), indicating that people may be renting where they want to eventually live, but are hamstrung by house prices and lending restrictions.

What was traditionally a large core of renters of student age is evaporating fast as those under 25 cannot afford to rent at all. The largest age group was in the 25 to 35 bracket (68pc) while there are also indications that the renting population is aging as more people remain priced out - 28pc are now 35 or older.

Tenants rate the ability to move again if their circumstances change and the fact that they are not responsible for maintenance as the two greatest attractions about renting.

However, one third feel that rent is wasted money.

Long term renters urged to look at protection similar to mortgage holders

Long-term renters should look at ways in which they can financially protect themselves, similar to mortgage holders, a leading insurance company has said.

With rents across the country now 8pc higher on average than their Celtic Tiger peak in 2008, Royal London has urged renters to consider protection against illness and death.

In Dublin, rents are an average of 13.7pc higher than in 2008, according to the Daft.ie rental price report 2016, while data from the 2016 Census shows that there were 469,671 households in rented accommodation in 2016, an increase of nearly 5pc from 2011.

“The profile of ‘renters’ in this country has changed significantly. Traditionally the renting group in Ireland was single people in their 20s and early 30s”, Joe Charles head of proposition at Royal London said.

“Now a growing cohort of families and individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s are renting at a time when financial security and protection becomes more important as they grow older, settle down, and especially if they have children to look after,” he continued.

Read more: Comment: It’s time to stop faffing about and start treating this housing crisis like the emergency that it really is

The company is advising long-term renters to review their financial capabilities and consider putting their own form of ‘rent protection’ in place, by taking out life insurance policies. They say a good comparable example is when people put mortgage protection cover in place.

“Those who are renting long-term should consider doing something similar to those with a mortgage, and put life and/or specified serious illness cover in place, to ensure their rent and other ongoing expenses will continue to be paid for their family should anything happen to them”, Mr Charles said.

Population of Co Louth surges to highest level in recorded history

The population of Co Louth increased by almost 6,000 between April 2011 and April 2016 to 128,884.

That’s according to new Census figures released by the CSO today which show a 4.87% rise in the population of the county over the five year period.

This was greater than the 3.8% national growth, with the country’s population now standing at 4,761,865.

There were 63,633 males in the county in April last year, up 4.72% from 60,763 five years earlier while the number of females in Louth jumped by 5% from 62,134 in 2011 to 65,251 in April 2016.

The population of the county is now at its highest since records began, overtaking the 128,240 registered as living in Louth before the Great Famine in the first Census in 1841.

The average age was 36.4 years compared to 35.2 five years earlier. This was below the national average of 37.4.

There were also 771 Travellers registered in Louth last April, an increase of 16.3% on April 2011.

In relation to marriages, the numbers wed rose by 4.1% from 43,848 to 45,663. It was also revealed that there had been 122 same-sex civil partnerships in Louth as of April 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of people separated and divorced in the county also rose. The number of people separated jumped by 5.5% to 3,811 while the divorce figure was up 17% from 2,539 to 2,971.

On an electoral level, the population increase means there are 150,924 within the Louth/East Meath area. This is a 5.3% increase from 143,272 in 2011 and means there are is now one TD per 30,185 of population.

Check out figures and data at http://talkofthetown.ie/population-of-co-louth-surges-to-highest-level-in-recorded-history/#