Many choices we make on a daily basis have an impact on the environment and small changes can help in the fight against climate change.
Everyone has a carbon footprint and these 10 ways to fight climate change at home will help you to reduce the impact you’re having on the planet.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is a calculation of the carbon released into the atmosphere (measured in tonnes) as a result of the activities of a person or organisation. Everyone has a carbon footprint which can be worked out using:
- Transport and travel
- Efficiency of your home
- Energy usage
The average person in the UK has a carbon footprint of 10 tonnes (imagine 24 million balloons filled with carbon) so while you might think one person can’t make much difference, it really is possible.
10 ways to fight climate change at home
To help you on your way to reducing your carbon footprint here are 10 ways to fight climate change at home.
1. Replace your boiler
Home heating accounts for around a third of all carbon emissions in the UK so it’s only right that we start there.
Gas and oil boilers are both effective ways of heating a home but to do so, they’re burning fossil fuels which means that carbon is released into the atmosphere every time it’s used for central heating or domestic hot water. And modern boilers use fuel much more efficient than older models.
Boiler efficiency is displayed as a percentage – the higher it is the more efficient the boiler. Modern boilers have an efficiency of around 93% which means that for every £1 spent on heating your home, only 7p is lost. This is a considerable saving when you consider that older boilers can have an efficiency rating of around 70%.
As well as the energy bill savings, an efficient boiler will be making use of more fuel, sending less waste out into the atmosphere, helping to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
So if you have an old boiler that was installed more than 8 years ago, turning to a replacement boiler is the best place to start in the fight against climate change.
Using Boiler Guide, you can get free quotes from up to 3 Gas Safe heating engineers based in your local area. Comparing multiple quotes will give you the confidence that you’re getting the most competitive price.
Making sure that heat isn’t escaping your home is essential for anyone looking to reduce their climate footprint. If heat is allowed to escape the property then there will be more demand on your central heating system which, if using a gas or oil boiler, will increase carbon emissions.
By keeping the heat within your home, you will be using your heating system less, a great way to reduce your energy bills. And the best way is by insulating your home.
The most effective forms of home insulation are:
As homes lose 25% of their heat through the roof, loft insulation is arguably the most effective way to retain heat. But the roof isn’t the only area where heat is lost, it can make its way out through the walls and windows too.
Cavity wall insulation fills the space between the outer and inner walls which exists in many homes built after 1920. Without the insulation heat can escape and damp can form. When it comes to windows, glass is a great conductor of heat which can lead to much of the heat generated by your central heating system going straight out the window. If your home only has single-glazing then replacing them with double glazing (or even triple glazing), is an effective way of retaining heat and according to the Energy Saving Trust could potentially save you £110 each year.
If you have a hot water tank then insulating that will help to keep the water warmer for longer. Read our guide to Insulating Your Hot Water Tank and Pipes for more information.
3. Leave the car on the drive
Finding an alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles is essential if the UK is to hit its target of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Electric vehicles are set to become the future form of transport as the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2040. For anyone who relies on their car on a daily basis, going electric could save 2 tonnes of CO2 annually. Even switching to a more efficient petrol or diesel car has the potential to reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 0.9 tonnes per year.
While electric vehicles are currently expensive (their price tag continues to drop), there are many alternatives to the car:
- Walk or cycle
- Take public transport
- Avoid plane travel where possible
And if you’re not in a position to ditch the car altogether (or replace it with an electric vehicle) why not consider car sharing.
4. Dish up more plant-based meals
As a planet, we’re consuming meat on a huge scale. And scientists say that cutting out meat and dairy is possibly the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Land use (area to farm animals as well as to grow crops to feed them)
- Water consumption
- Large scale cattle farming produces vast amounts of methane (a harmful greenhouse gas)
- Animal waste is the leading cause of water pollution
According to Veganuary, one person making the switch to a plant-based diet for a single month saves:
- 124,900 litres of water
- 84 metres squared of forest
- 273kg of carbon dioxide
If you’re not ready to commit to a vegan diet just yet then substituting red meat for chicken and fish will help to lower your carbon footprint.
5. Refill, reuse, recycle
We’re living in a ‘throw away’ society. We buy something, use it and throw away the packaging (and the product too in some cases) – much of which can’t be recycled.
In 2016, the UK produced 222.9 million tonnes of waste which largely gets sent to landfills and as it ages it decomposes and rots, causing pollution.
Plastic is one of the biggest culprits as it takes years to disappear and as they linger spread toxins into the environment and wildlife. The amount of plastic in the ocean is at a record high causing harm to wildlife and leading to traces of plastic being found in drinking water.
While some of these plastics can be recycled, putting them in your recycling bin is no guarantee. So, the best answer is to avoid them as much as possible.
Rather than buying a new packet of cereal or liquid soap, take your own container to a store that allows you to refill. And when it comes to plastic water bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle. Anyone who regularly buys water in plastic bottles will soon see a financial saving to by choosing to refill a bottle.
6. Consider your digital footprint
For many of us, the internet has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives yet not much is known about the impact our online activity has on the planet.
We think of the internet as being invisible but multiple servers are called into action every time we so much as make a search and this requires power.
While our digital lives is reducing our reliance on paper, saving the number of trees being cut down, emissions are released into the atmosphere as a result of the power needed for all the devices and servers that allow us to surf the internet.
Even the most minor online activity, like sending an email, can add to your carbon footprint.
|Online Activity||Estimated CO2 Emissions|
|Viewing a webpage containing media||o.2 grams per second|
|Making a single search on Google||0.2 – 7 grams|
|Sending a standard email||4 grams|
|Sending an email containing a large attachment||Up to 50 grams|
|Watching a YouTube video||1g for every 10 minutes||Watching Netflix||1.6kg every 30 minutes|
With the internet playing such a vital role in the personal and working lives of many people, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to cut yourself off from it altogether. However, there are a few minor changes you can make to reduce your digital carbon footprint:
- Download videos to watch offline
- Unsubscribe from emails you’re no longer interested in
- Where possible use a phone or tablet rather than a laptop or desktop
7. Upgrade to a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat will give you increased control over your central heating and can even adapt to your heating habits to increase efficiency.
Here are just a few ways that a smart thermostat can help to improve the efficiency of your home:
- After being installed for a few days, the thermostat will adapt to your central heating habits
- Using motion detection some smart thermostats will know when the house is empty and automatically turn the heating off
- To reduce energy waste in the summer and avoid frozen pipes during the winter, it will adjust the temperature based on the forecast and outdoor temperature
- It’s possible to set up ‘zones’ around your home so that you’re not heating up an empty room
- Take control of your heating from wherever you are using your smartphone
With an ever-increasing number of smart thermostats hitting the market, find The Best Smart Thermostat for your home.
8. Turn your thermostat down
Whether you choose to invest in a smart thermostat or not, turning it down by a single degree could potentially save you up to £60 a year – in addition to reducing your impact on the environment.
This is because your boiler won’t have to be on for as long to reach the desired temperature so, that means a boiler will be releasing fewer emissions into the atmosphere.
A comfortable temperature is considered between 18 and 21 degrees. So, if your thermostat is currently set a lot higher than this then there a savings to be made.
9. Switch energy supplier
Energy suppliers all generate their energy in different ways and by switching to a renewable energy supplier, you will be cutting your carbon footprint.
Traditionally, electricity has been generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil but all of these processes release carbon into the atmosphere. A more sustainable and environmentally-friendly solution is green energy.
More energy suppliers are generating electricity with green energy (wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geothermal) but not many suppliers do it exclusively. By switching to a renewable energy supplier, such as Ecotricity or Green Energy, the electricity being delivered to your home will have been generated in a much more sustainable manner, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
As well as cutting your carbon footprint, switching energy supplier could potentially save you as much as £250 each year on your energy bills. Find out more in our Guide to Switching Energy Supplier.
10. Generate your own renewable energy
Rather than relying on an energy supplier, you might want to consider generating your own renewable energy. Solar PV panels convert solar energy from the sun into electricity which can be used to power the appliances around your home. Add a solar battery to the system and you’ll even be able to use that free renewable energy when the sun’s gone down.
As well as electricity, renewable energy sources can also be used to heat your home:
- Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air outside
- Ground source heat pumps use underground heat
- Solar thermal panels use solar energy to heat water in a cylinder
- Biomass boilers burn wood and other organic materials rather than gas or oil
These renewable heating systems are a more environmentally-friendly way of heating your home than conventional boilers and, in addition to reduced energy bills, you could receive payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Make these 10 changes and you’ll be well on your way to making a difference in the fight against climate change.
How efficient is your home?
If you want to find out exactly how efficient your property is and find areas to improve then you might want to consider a home energy audit.
A home energy audit can be carried out by either a professional assessor or be done yourself but hiring a professional is likely to be the better choice.
Once the audit has revealed where heat is being lost and energy wasted, making the changes will lead to:
- Smaller carbon footprint
- Lower energy bills
- A more comfortable home
- Less strain being put on the heating system