The climate change conversation is often dominated by major businesses making huge gestures to reduce their carbon footprint and reach net or positive zero emissions. However, everybody can do their bit from their own homes. Every small step towards sustainability in the home is a collective leap forward for the planet.
According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK needs to cut emissions by 63% by 2035, to keep us on the path to Net Zero 2050. It’s a huge challenge, yet you don’t need to go further than your front door to help combat climate change.
The CCC estimates that energy use in homes accounts for around 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The way we heat and power our houses and flats has significant implications for the planet and pressure is mounting to put energy efficiency at the heart of the UK’s Green Revolution.
Decarbonising homes and businesses must start with cutting energy demand. Plugging the gaps and addressing the leaks so that we require less energy to heat our homes is key to decarbonising buildings and meeting our net zero commitments. The Climate Change Committee believes that by improving the energy efficiency of UK homes, the amount of energy used for heating could fall by 15% by 2030. Furthermore, with global inflation rising and many businesses facing steep increases in the cost of living, reducing our energy use at home can also help us save financially, so it’s worth getting into good habits now.
Investing in insulation will provide effective heating for your home without you having to consume gas or electricity. Walls, the floor, the roof and loft spaces can all be insulated to prevent heat from escaping the property. It is also a good idea to insulate your water tank, distribution pipes and loft hatch to be even more energy efficient. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket will save you £18 a year in heating costs and 110kg of CO2 emissions.
The good news is that you can insulate your home yourself. Many DIY stores provide insulating material that is relatively easy to install.
Reducing our energy consumption is perhaps the most effective contribution we can make to reversing climate change – and will likely provide the biggest financial saving too. Transitioning to a lower carbon source of heating, or investing in a new, cleaner boiler, is a good place to start. While a good move for the planet, this is still not as effective as investing in your own renewable sources of power.
Heat pumps are growing in popularity in the domestic market This technology exploits renewable heat from the environment and produces no carbon emissions. As more of our electricity is produced from renewable sources, heat pumps are becoming an ever-more sustainable option. They work by absorbing heat from a cold space and transferring it into a fluid. This is then compressed and pumped into your home to provide heating and hot water.
There are other renewable energy sources too. For example, biomass, solar panels and wind energy can all be used to power our homes. Although they can be trickier and more expensive to investigate.
Even if you are running your home on a budget, you can still do your bit to support global sustainability. Below are just a few tips that anyone can follow to reduce their energy footprint.
Devices and appliances still use electricity when they are left on standby. Unplug all devices when they are not in use. Consider using timer plugs, or it is even possible to automatically turn off sockets remotely via your mobile phone.
Use your kitchen appliances more efficiently. Wash clothes at lower temperatures and use higher spin cycles so that they don’t take as long to dry. Avoid energy-guzzling tumble dryers as much as possible and keep their filters clean to improve efficiency.
Buying more energy-efficient appliances can cut your energy consumption significantly. When an appliance needs replacing, consider the lifetime cost rather than the purchase cost of a replacement. Pay attention to a product’s energy efficiency rating.
Get your boiler serviced once a year to maximise the performance of your heating system. Do some research on low-carbon alternatives once your conventional boiler is 5 years old when it breaks down. Make an informed decision based not only on up-front cost but longer-term energy efficiency.
Are you interested in learning more about saving energy in the home? Want to find out more about how you can make a difference through small behavioural changes? Take a look at our online learning course, which has a module dedicated to living spaces.
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