In 2015, 197 countries agreed (under the Paris Agreement) to try to keep global temperature rises ‘well below’ 1.5C to avoid the worst case scenario for climate change. Experts agree that to do this, ‘net zero’ must be reached by 2050. But what is net zero? Well, this means we don’t add to the greenhouse gases, which are already in the atmosphere. It isn’t possible to stop all CO2 emissions so off-setting is one way that this goal can be reached. For example, planting the right trees in the right place.
While large companies are responsible for a large proportion of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, as individuals, we also play a part. We all have a carbon footprint – which means we all contribute to greenhouse gases by using energy, that’s generated by fossil fuels.
Switching the light off when you leave a room is a great place to start – as is swapping traditional incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs, which use 80% less electricity. Electronic devices also continue to use power when they’re plugged in, and leaving appliances on standby is also a drain on energy. So turn the TV, games console and computer off – and unplug that charger when you’re not using it! These may seem like small changes, but they will all add up – and reduce your fuel bill.
Choosing a programme that washes a lower temperature will save energy. Many of today’s detergents are formulated to work at lower temperatures so you shouldn’t see a difference in the cleanliness of your clothes. Tumble driers are also big users of power, so make the most of a sunny or breezy day and get laundry on the line. Tumble driers can also shrink clothes, so you could get longer from your favourite outfits if you dry them naturally. If you need a new appliance, consider an A+++ option.
From loft to cavity wall insulation, there are a range of ways to make your property warmer without turning up the thermostat. You could add rugs and thick curtains to rooms to keep the heat in. For those in older properties with casement or sash windows, draught proofing, slim double glazing and secondary glazing can make a big difference to the warmth of a room as well as your energy consumption. Specialists like Ventrolla can advise you on the best options for your home.
Showering is a good way to use less water, but power showers can often be on a par with baths. So try to reduce the duration of your shower, rather than just ditching baths. ‘Grey water’ (from washing up, baths and washing machines) is ideal for watering your lawn or plants. And simply by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, you will use less water. Leaking pipes are also a culprit for wasting water, so get them fixed!
Getting from A to B by cycling, walking, car sharing and public transport not only help you save money on the rising cost of petrol and diesel but these methods will also ensure you reduce your emissions. Of course, walking and cycling are also great for your health, too. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, consider hybrid and electric options – while these are a big upfront investment, they are a more sustainable alternative.
There are so many other tweaks you can make, which can help reduce your carbon footprint. From recycling, installing solar panels and consuming less red meat to shopping local and growing your own veg – see which fit best with your lifestyle and budget, and help do your bit for the future of the planet.