Our energy supplies, electricity, gas and oil, are one of the main ways that we generate greenhouse gases. Here in the UK the main consumer of energy is heating, to heat our homes in the winter, to heat water for washing and to heat our food. These are not things that we would want to stop doing, so how can we reduce our carbon footprint? Here’s a list of ideas for saving energy and reducing your bills.
Insulate your Home
One of the most effective ways to avoid wasting heat is to insulate your roof space, which is by far the biggest contributor to heat loss. These days a 10″ to 12″ layer of insulation is recommended. It’s a quick, easy and relatively cheap way to cut energy wastage.
Turn down the heating by one degree can make a surprising difference to your energy use. Put on another layer and you won’t even notice the difference.
Don’t heat rooms you’re not using. Leave the radiators on minimum and close the doors on unused rooms. And if you’re out of the house during the day you don’t need to heat it then. There’s an old myth that it’s cheaper to keep your house at constant temperature than to let it cool down when you’re not there, but it simply isn’t true.
Don’t leave doors and windows open. If you need to ventilate a toom that’s being heated, open the windows wide for a short time so you change the air without giving the walls and contents of the room time to cool down. Radiators are often located under a window, so if you leave the window open and the radiator on, guess where all your expensive heat is going.
Boil just the amount of water you need. No need to fill the kettle and only use part of it.
Get a Smart Meter
If you don’t have one, ask your energy supplier. They are normally provided and fitted free of charge, and the newer models will continue to work if you change supplier.
Actually the smart meter in itself will not save any energy, but the information it provides will help you to save. You can see exactly how much energy you’re using at any one time, and you can see how effective any change of habit is.
They also help energy suppliers by showing where the power is going. This helps manage the grid and the increasing number of small renewable installations. Gone are the days of a few big power stations, and the new networks need more information to run efficiently.
Change to a Green Supplier
Almost all energy suppliers offer a ‘Green Tariff’ of some sort. This means that your supplier has to source the amount of electricity or gas that you use from a renewable source. This doesn’t reduce your energy use, but it does greatly reduce your carbon footprint as all these sources have to be carbon-neutral and cannot use traditional fossil fuels for generation.
Some companies are better at this than others; many of the big energy companies have a poor record of investing in green energy, and just buy certificates from other renewable sources. The suppliers being recommended at present by A Rocha are Good Energy, Ecotricity and Octopus. All of these can supply both electricity and gas.