Carmel Smith runs M&C Hybrid Energy, the energy solution provider based in Cavan, with her husband Micheal.
Carmel talks to Guaranteed Irish about how the clean energy business has been powering along since 2009.
Could you tell us a bit about the history of M&C Hybrid?
My husband Micheal spent years exploring energy solutions across the US and Europe before returning home to Ireland in 2006. Together, we immediately recognised an opportunity to diversify into renewables recognising the growing need for a concerted effort from Ireland’s energy professionals to endorse and provide green solutions. We launched M&C Hybrid Energy in 2009 and now with over ten years’ experience, we’re proud to say it is one of a handful of independent energy companies and a leader in green, renewable energy.
Basing the business in Cavan was a conscious choice for us too – we both are Cavan natives and wanted to set up our business close to where we would set down roots forever. We now operate the business from the same site as our family home allowing us both to spend as much time as possible with our young daughters, Makaila who is 8, Alannah who is 7 and Layla who is 3.
It was really important to us both to create a company that not only provides first class solutions and advice but one that also educates Irish homeowners and businesses on how to become more energy-efficient and understand the benefits of doing so. In addition, we also do a lot of community-based work that is safe guarding the future of local sports clubs and schools by ensuring they run as cost-efficiently as possible.
What has been your greatest achievement and biggest risk?
Initially it was quite a tough proposition to communicate as we were still somewhat ahead of the curve and subsequently customer demand, but as awareness has grown so too has our output. I recall when we installed a wind turbine at our home just around the same time as we launched the business and it was met with a bit of disdain. I look at our surrounding area now and there are about a handful in view!
The local Irish market, when compared to some of our EU counterparts, was historically quite slow to adopt green initiatives. It’s only in the last five years or so that the general Irish consumer has started to become much more conscious and this is as a result of a more concerted awareness-building effort from Government and the growing understanding of the real risks of climate change. There is now also an acceptance that when it comes to selling a home, a higher energy rating will add value and help sellers achieve a higher price.
We started our business in the midst of a recession, a challenging time for homeowners and businesses to invest in what was considered luxury investment back then. To build a business in these times was challenging but we rose to the challenge and seen it through; however our biggest achievement to date has got to be Micheal being awarded with the coveted Business All-Star Accreditation of Thought Leader in Energy Conservation in March. This is an independently verified standard mark for businesses based on rigorous selection criteria; performance, trust and customer centricity. This award for Thought Leader in Energy Conservation is the first of its kind so we are very proud of this.
What drives you as a business owner?
We are unique in what we do and take pride in the knowledge that our solutions are value for money. Keener prices mean quicker payback for Customers. We build great customer relationships and because we don’t work on commission our clients feel no pressure or obligation to work with us, they choose to work with us instead.
Our systems are sized accordingly to suit our customers’ needs with excess power heating hot water as a bonus. Therefore, our customers are exporting minimum power which is a massive saving for them.
We have a solid relationship of trust with our suppliers which has been built over the last ten years and we are confident that all the products we buy, and supply are of a secure high-quality standard.We are practical with our solutions ensuring they are value for money and low maintenance with a long-term guarantee of dedicated customer service.
We are passionate and believe entirely in the future of Green Energy and really want to see Ireland become a leader in this area. We’re built with the noble purpose of supporting and educating Irish homeowners and businesses to become more energy-efficient and understand the benefits of doing so.
What made you decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?
We’ve been spearheading clean and renewable solutions since 2009 and really providing these solutions as an independent business, filling the gap when there weren’t many other providers. Our business has consistently reacted to changes in the industry – new legislation or new technologies ensuring we deliver first class, state of the art solutions in line with our expert and specialised offering. We listen to the needs of our customers intently be it a corporate client, a school or a family. We aim to continually use the information provided by our customers to better adapt to their needs and bridge the gap between Ireland becoming more green and potential customers responding positively to that aim. We are creating jobs for Ireland’s talented force of engineers and scientists and we want to continue to do so by empowering customers with our open approach.
We feel we have earned the right to carry the Guaranteed Irish symbol with us now and we do that with pride. Being part of such a wide community is a great privilege to us and we were delighted to be accepted as a member.
What are some quick tips you can give our readers on how to be more energy efficient at home?
Some top tips that we can all implement straight away to save money include:
1.Tackle the draughts
Tackling household draughts is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy costs. If you think about it, draughts allow heat to escape meaning you’re paying for heat that you don’t even use. Up to 50% of household energy can be lost through draughts and while most of us know that draughts can come through cracks in door-ways, we forget that cold air can force its way into the house through gaps in the roof, the floors, the chimney, the attic and the windows too.
2.Make the most of nature
It might seem like common sense but ensuring you open the curtains and blinds throughout the house every day will give way to natural sunlight beaming its way through the house and reduce your urge to turn on the lights. I suggest going for energy efficient bulbs and reduce the wattage – even reducing ten or 15 watts will make a difference and you won’t notice the difference in brightness.
3.Keep hot water… hot!
Again, it might seem like common sense but I’m always surprised at how many homes I visit that don’t insulate their hot water tank. You’ll keep the water inside the tank hotter for longer if you wrap it. When it comes to hot water, we’re all guilty of wasting it. Some inexpensive, cost-saving ideas to make more of your supply include installing low-flow shower heads which release water at a slower pace – especially handy if you have a long-shower lover in the house!
Lastly, what’s next for M&C Hybrid?
Our Vision over the next five years is to become recognised as Ireland’s number 1 leading energy solutions company. We are confident that the knowledge and experience we have, and are so passionate about, can influence New Start-Ups and other SME companies on how to grow and progress in the industry. We have created a unique business model which focuses on massively saving our customers money and assists them in the process of becoming environmentally aware.
As part of our Goal to achieve this we are actively involved in several Business Networks where we get regular opportunities to showcase our Business. This enables us to educate the members of these networks on the services and products we provide so that the process of receiving business referrals is made easy. Micheal is a core member of BNI, which gives him access to receive business referrals not just locally, but also nationally and internationally as the opportunities arise. Carmel is an active member of Cavan Business Women’s Club which again gives her the opportunity to network with other likeminded business women and she can educate members on how we can help them to massively reduce their energy bills and save them money.
Another key project we are involved in now, as a strategy to secure future growth, is a Public Funded Scheme and Initiative to bring all public listed buildings in Cavan up to current SEAI regulations. Micheal has been selected by the organising committee to Project Manage this initiative based on his knowledge and expertise in this field. Already, Micheal has established solid working relationships with several local authorities and voluntary organisations to secure this work and this initiative is due commence.