The UK has made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
There is significant variation in the figures advising on annual per capita carbon emissions, ranging from the government’s current average of 7.1 tonnes of CO2 to as much as 14 tonnes. The official figures do not include a range of inputs like air travel.
To reach the proposed goal, everyone will need to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Making energy savings in the home is a simple way to shrink your carbon footprint very quickly. Gas consumption contributes a mean average of two tonnes of CO2 per head so is a key area for action. A typical household burns roughly 20,000 kWh of gas, with central heating the main culprit. Hot water is also a contributing factor.
To manage your gas consumption more efficiently, follow these simple tips:
- Ensure your home is adequately insulated, both in the roof and walls
- Seal draughts in doors and skirting boards
- Replace old boilers
- Fit better heating controls
- Turn the thermostat down by at least one degree
- Fit double or triple glazed windows
- Invest in solar hot water
- Consider a wood-burning stove
- Turn off the heating in unused rooms
To make further savings, you may also want to consider fitting eco showers and eco taps or tap aerators. These products mix air with water flow, reducing consumption by more than 50%. This means that less gas and electricity is used to heat and pump the water – and there’s no need to change your washing routines.
Think more about your water use generally as pumping this precious resource through the mains system releases a lot of carbon each year, as does post-use treatment. You can invest in a carbon-cutting water recycler that uses water from the washing machine to flush the loo. It is also worth considering using displacement devices in the cisterns and installing a composting toilet.
A typical home can burn around 4,000 kWh of electricity annually, roughly one tonne of CO2. The energy-efficient lighting provided by LED bulbs, spotlights and downlights can cut electricity consumption by up to 90%. The purchase costs are repaid very quickly and you go on saving energy year after year as LEDs have an incredibly long lifespan – up to 50,000 hours.
Again, there’s no need for radical changes in behaviour – just make sure you do not leave lights on, which can be a temptation because the running costs are so low.
Invest in home devices like TVs, fridges, freezers and tumble dryers that have a A++ energy rating. While the payback period is longer than for LEDs, the carbon benefit is immediate and accumulative. Make sure to recycle old devices as well.
At the same time, find a simple system to turn appliances off when they are not in use and install smart metering devices to give you detailed information on how, when and where you are burning electricity.
If feasible, install solar PV panels. These will pay for themselves over a long period but are super-efficient in terms of carbon footprint.
You can also do your bit by being careful to wash clothes and run the dishwasher only when you have a full load. You may consider drying clothes naturally rather than using a tumble dryer too.
Extend your recycling regime from paper to plastics, metal and more. In addition, give old clothes to charity, rather than binning them.
Outside the home, consider using a bike rather than a car for short journeys and, if you can, invest in a newer car with an inexpensive tax band indicating lower emissions. Fit efficient tyres, keep them pumped up and join a car pool.
It’s easier than you think to reduce your carbon footprint and, remember, you’ll be saving a small fortune in energy bills as well.
Mark Sait is managing director of SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com, a full-service efficiency partner helping businesses and households reduce energy and water consumption, and cutting carbon emissions to improve sustainability.