With more than a quarter of emissions coming from domestic users, tackling climate change starts at home.
But what can householders do to cut their own home’s carbon footprint?
There are a number of measures people can take which cost nothing and can make a difference to both carbon emissions and fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Turning down the thermostat by 1C can save nearly £40 in the average house and 325kg of carbon dioxide a year.
- Washing clothes at 30C rather than higher temperatures uses a third less electricity, while having a shower instead of a bath uses nearly two thirds less energy.
- Turning off TVs and other appliances rather than leaving them on standby when not in use.
- Always turning the light off when leaving the room.
- Drawing curtains at night to stop heat escaping.
- Only boiling as much water as needed in the kettle.
Energy saving light bulbs
Low-cost measures people can take around the home include swapping their ordinary lightbulbs for energy saving light bulbs, which can save around £7 and 45kg of CO2 a year, and fitting an insulating jacket round the hot water tank.
And with 11% of heat loss from the home slipping out through doors and floors, sealing up gaps in floors and draught proofing doors can improve efficiency and cut heating bills.
Energy efficient household products ranging from fridges to DVD players carry the Energy Saving Recommended label and can be bought at a number of retailers.
The Energy Saving Trust said installing insulation in the loft, which in uninsulated homes accounts for more than a quarter (26%) of heat loss, is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of saving energy and money.
More costly measures such as installing double glazing can also have an impact, with 18% of heat loss escaping through windows, as can cavity wall insulation.
The government provides grants of up to £2,700 to households on certain benefits to install measures to improve energy efficiency, under schemes such as Warm Front run across the UK.
Energy suppliers have an obligation under the Carbon Emissions Reductions Target (Cert) to improve energy efficiency in consumers’ homes, and provide a number of offers which reduce the cost of installing technology such as insulation and energy efficient boilers.
But to make homes really green, environmentalists say there needs to be a much greater uptake of small-scale low-carbon technology such as solar panels and ground-source heat pumps.
Many of these ‘microgeneration’ technologies, which can supply heat or electricity – or in the case of combined heat and power (CHP) devices, both – are still very expensive and have a long pay-back time.
Under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (CLBP), householders can apply for a grant of up to £2,500 towards the cost of technology such as solar PV and micro-wind turbines.
But the scheme is not without controversy: its initial popularity after its launch in April 2006 led to monthly allocations running out within hours on the first day of the month.
After its relaunch in May 2007, there were claims the reduction of maximum grants for some types of microgeneration and the tightening of requirements made the programme less accessible for householders and damaged the micro-renewables sector.
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