Ways to reduce your carbon footprint
Make simple changes
Making simple changes to our day to day lives, like using less energy, driving less and recycling more can make a big difference. There are lots of things people can do as an individual, without overwhelming changes to our lifestyle. Many of the actions we can do also makes a very positive difference to our wellbeing and save us money in the long run.
Suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint
- Reduce heat loss around your home.
- Seek advice on solid wall insulation and installing heat pumps.
- Keep temperatures at reasonable levels.
- Use really efficient household appliances including lighting.
- Buy electricity from renewable sources.
- Generate your own renewable energy.
- Fly less (and stay longer).
- Use public transport, or cycle or walk.
- Drive an electric car (and share it if you can).
- Cut down on eating meat (or give it up entirely).
- Buy local food when you can.
- Avoid waste.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has set a target to bring down carbon emissions to 20% by 2050. Why not try their 2050 Pathways tool and see if you can find a way to meet this target? You can even send your result to DECC and be part of the conversation.
Reduce heat loss around your home. The cost of improving insulation around doors and windows, as well as blocking any air leaks between the floor and the skirting boards is small.
Seek advice on solid wall insulation and installing heat pumps and other more fundamental improvements. There may be subsidies available.
Homes already well insulated should look at installing heat pumps as the means of keeping the house warm.
Keep temperatures at reasonable levels and turn down radiators in rooms you don't use. The average UK home heated with gas uses about 12,000 kilowatt hours per year. How does yours compare?
Our website provides information on what you can do to reduce your carbon emissions, visit our Home energy pages.
Household appliances and lighting
Use efficient household appliances including lighting.
Changing to low energy lighting will almost certainly pay back the cost within a year, by reducing your electricity bills.
More information, including the main types of energy saving bulb available can be found on the website Everybody's talking about climate change - Fit low energy lighting.
Buy efficient washing machines and other goods when the time comes to replace your appliances. This helps reduce carbon even if you buy renewable electricity, because your lower power consumption means there is more green power available for others.
Renewable sources of electricity
Buy electricity from renewable sources. Two types of suppliers can sell you green power:
- suppliers that own and operate wind and solar farms; their electricity tends to be expensive
- suppliers that buy power from the wholesale market and issue certificates that guarantee the electricity is green; these companies offer cheaper tariffs.
The average UK home heated by gas uses about 3,100 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. Look at your annual electricity bill and ask how your house compares.
Generate your own renewable energy
It makes sense to make your home as energy efficient as possible before you consider generating your own energy from renewables. This will mean that you don't need to generate as much energy or heat.
The main sources of renewable energy are:
- solar photovoltaic panels
- ground source heat pumps
- air source heat pumps.
There is lots of advice available on how you can do this. You can find out more on these websites:
Use public transport, cycle or walk. Do this whenever possible. This will be good for health and for carbon emissions. There is lots of help available on The Active Wellbeing Society website and in the Public Health England report on working together to promote active travel.
If you don't need a car on a daily basis, look at joining an electric car-sharing club (such as co-wheels.org/derby) or rent a car when you need one.
Consider buying an electric car (and share it if you can).
Fly less (and stay longer). Avoid flights whenever you can. For those flights you have absolutely have to take, contemplate buying an offset from climeworks.com which turns your emissions into stone in Iceland. If that's too expensive, find a supplier of carbon offsets that looks as though it will genuinely plant more trees for your payment and maintain them.
Food, clothes and consumer goods
Cut down on eating meat (or give it up entirely). Particularly beef and lamb, which have the highest carbon footprint. There is a growing range of alternatives, even for burgers. And they are healthier.
Cut down on food waste. You can find out more advice about this on the Sustainable Food Places website.
Buy local food when you can. Avoid all airfreighted food and reduce purchases of fresh foods that are out of season. If you have the space and time you can grow your own.
Avoid waste. This applies to food, goods, clothes and all other consumer goods. Clothes have a high carbon footprint. Buy less, wear them more often, repair rather than throw away. Keep phones and other electronic goods as long as you can. Each year that you hold on to a computer might save hundreds of kilos of carbon dioxide (CO2). If you need to upgrade computers or other goods, try to find them a new home. Buy second-hand whenever you can; for example, from charity shops or web sites such as on Depop, eBay or Freecycle. It makes a significant difference.