Within the UK, it is estimates that up to 22% of the carbon emissions released comes from our own homes. This is inclusive of heating, applicant, products used, and lighting. It also extends to how we choose to travel. Using our cars will also contribute to carbon emissions. Every person carbon footprint will differ dependant on their individual lifestyle.
Let’s investigate the small changes that can reduce our carbon footprint and make positive change to climate change and global warming, but first let’s start with the basics, what is a Carbon Footprint?
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that we generated or that are generated as a result of our own individual everyday actions such as activities, services used, products bought, and home life including recycling choices and insulation. The carbon footprint will then contribute to global warming and climate change. This is because the gases that we each produce come together and create the ‘greenhouse effect’ and emit thermal infrared radiation that traps heat in the atmosphere. Not only does this affect wildlife that relies on a cooler temperature to survive, but it also all affects the air we breathe. Furthermore, our carbon footprints ultimately contribute to the cause of extreme weather conditions such as draughts, blizzards, and rainstorms, which can cause devastation.
We start to reduce our carbon footprint by improving out home environment and make changes to our travel preferences. These small changes in our behaviour can make big changes that positively impact our environment.
7 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
These 7 changes can be simple to make and will reduce your carbon footprint and waste. By playing our part and minimising our own individual impact on the environment as soon as we can, we can create positive change.
1. Replace your car and walk more
Start by making changes to the way you travel. Walking or cycling small distances that you would usually drive such as to your local shop or to work means less gas is created by your vehicle. If walking or cycling to work is not an option for you, you may consider public transport.
If driving is a necessity, consider switching to an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, which will contribute to improving air quality, and resulting in lower carbon dioxide emissions released in comparison to a petrol or diesel equivalent. The initial purchase price of an electric vehicle is often higher but lower running costs over its lifetime help balance the initial outlay, and there is no doubt about the environmental benefit.
Recycle all recyclable materials used within your household such as paper, plastic, and metal. If recycling is not available near you, consider local recycling facilities and drop off points.
Another way to recycle is to reuse or upcycle waste items that cannot be recycled. Remember, every product that we buy also has a carbon footprint. the energy used in making that product and delivering to near you will almost certainly have caused some carbon emissions. Making changes such as ensuring you take your own bag to the store and mesh bags to package vegetable and fruits will make a difference.
3. Minimise food waste
Food waste end up in a landfill which then decomposes and produces large volumes of gas such as methane, contributing to global warming and climate change. Storing food correctly and planning meals in advance around there expiry date will mean less food is wasted. Some foods can also be put into a compost bucket to feed your garden. Some areas also offer food recycling bins.
4. Use eco-friendly products
Switch product where you can to eco-friendly. This can include hair products, cleaning products, and some cupboard foods. Eco -friendly products are either made up of recycled materials, or throughout their life cycle have has a lower impact on the environment. This can include how they have been transported and their capacity to be recycled.
5. Reduce electricity usage
Reduce energy by making small changes such as switching off lights and plugs that are not in use, turning of the television when it is not being watched and ensuring appliance such as washing machines or tumble dryers and turned off when the cycle has ended. Other changes can include using electricity for a smaller amount of time, such as only filling the kettle to the level that need as opposed to filling it the top or doing shorter washes.
LED bulbs and lamps are also a huge success when it comes to improving home efficiency. The LED bulbs use an impressive 80-90% less energy than traditional bulbs.
6. Use less heat
This includes using less hot water, you can make changes such as turning the temperature down on the boiler as opposed to using more cold water from the taps directly. You can also have smaller baths or quicker showers and when doing laundry, switch to cold washes where possible.
This can also include using heating controls. This can mean setting your heating on a timer to avoid using heat for excessive periods of time or at higher temperatures than required. This will help to create a more temperature-controlled space where less heat is wasted, meaning less heat escapes into the environment.
7. Insulate your home
Over half of the energy used within our homes is used for heating purposes. This can include general heating, light bulbs, kitchen appliances such as kettles, microwaves and air fryers, and steam levels produced from hot water and ovens. It your home is not insulated properly, the heat produced can escape and seep into the environment through the roof, walls, and floors. The will in turn mean more heating is required as the house lacks temperature control and turns cold quickly.
Making sure our homes are insulated correctly will massively reduce our carbon footprint and create a more energy efficient environment.
How to insulate your home and reduce your carbon footprint?
Ensuring the roof and walls are correctly insulated is a great place to start. This can include stripping the walls back and installing the correct insulation materials or insulating the walls externally using cavity wall insulation. A simpler way is to improve the insulation within the loft space. This can include fitting PIR insulation boards between the rafters within the roof and / or overlapping the rafters with PIR insulated plasterboards and ensuring your loft insulation is up to date and effective by checking the loft roll and applying additional loft roll to achieve the recommended thickness of 300mm is required.
If insulating the foundation of your home is not an option, there are smaller change that can be applied. Quicker fixes include insulating exposed water pipes along with the hot water cylinder or water heater if you have one. Heat can also be lost through gap in the windows and doors as well as through the chimneys. Draught-proofing can be a cost-effective solution to reducing the household carbon emissions.
Not only will these changes secure the thermal envelope of your property and reduce your carbon footprint and create positive change, but they will also make your living space more comfortable and save you money on your monthly energy bills.