The UK is committed to the Paris Agreement; an agreement with the UNFCCC on dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. This means all properties in the UK abide by the European emission standards. Previous Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change, Amber Rudd, announced plans for the UK to reduce emissions by 57% by 2030.
However, since Donald Trump pulled USA support from the Paris Agreement last year, global warming has been given the world centre stage in the media. Despite the fact that the long-term effects of this decision will not rear their heads for some time, global warming is only going to continue to intensify.
A scientific study of carbon emissions in Europe found the UK to be one of the worst offenders, with the South West coming out as the lead perpetrator. With the average household creating a ten-tonne carbon footprint per year, there are ways to decrease this average whilst saving money on your household bills.
Many people think that going green has to equal solar panels. Whilst these are a great option, they can be extremely expensive and, for some, pretty unsightly. Luckily there are a variety of options to help increase the energy efficiency of your home and, therefore, help decrease bills.
Did you know that the average Brit uses 62 litres of water every time they shower? Escalate this to 80 litres for a relaxing bath. To keep water and electricity bills down, keep baths shallow and showers swift. Investing in an energy-efficient shower head could save you around £50 on your gas bill and £100 on your electricity bill per year.
Switch light bulbs
Changing your regular light bulbs for an energy-efficient bulb can save you around £100 on your electricity bill per year. LED bulbs are the most efficient option when replacing spotlight halogen lights, whereas Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL bulbs) are the best replacement for traditional bulbs.
Install a new boiler
Some boilers are too powerful for smaller homes and don’t pack enough punch for larger homes. It is a great idea to invest in a boiler upgrade to cut heating costs. Newer models of boiler come with energy efficiency ratings, allowing you to make the best choice for your home and your pocket.
Double and triple glazing
You get two for one with double and triple glazed windows and doors. Not only do they reduce energy consumption due to less need for heating, but they also block noise pollution too. Whilst it is an expensive option, an A+ rated double-glazed window will set you back around £500 and see you save £75 to £100 per year on your household bills.
Homes can be heated by gas or electricity. Having a home heated by electricity is a more expensive option unless you use the thermostat efficiently. Never leave your heating constantly on and only heat rooms as and when you use them.
If you have a spare £20 or £30 to spend on your home, make sure to insulate your exterior doors. Draught proofing strips can be purchased from most home or DIY stores and can easily be fitted to help keep the heat in and the elements out.
Large scale alternative projects
You would assume, by the way, many of us harp on, that Britain is similar to the North Pole in winter. Despite having a seriously mild winter climate compared to many countries, we dedicate a lot of time to keeping snug. As it stands, 20% of UK emissions are due to heating alone and the Climate Change Act wants to reduce this dependency to 5% by 2030.
Thermostats begin to twitch in October and see us through to the new year with gusto. It is only when we supply our meter readings that we realise the amount of money we blow on heating alone during the chillier months. One way to get around this is by completely upgrading the insulation of your home. To meet the Climate Change Act regulations, around seven million homes in the UK will need to undergo this task anyway, so why not beat them to it and save yourself money in the long run?
Households in the UK who have already had their homes re-insulated are seeing an average yearly saving of £240. With the average cost of installation around £400 for average sized family property, you will get your money back quickly and reduce your carbon footprint by 1,000kg.
There has been a noticeable decline in the number of people installing solar panels onto their home. Before 2016, the government would give a cash sum to anyone creating their own electricity. People cottoned on to this and the result was the government slashing the reward by 65%.
With the average solar panel installation costing between £5,000 and £8,000, it is a purchase that requires thought. The average saving per year to start with is £80, plus with the additional government reward, this grows to between £150 to £200. Furthermore, you can also gain extra income by feeding any electricity you don’t use into the national grid. You will get paid depending upon how much you syphon off, with most households receiving an extra £50 to £100.
Is going green a good investment?
Whilst we would all like to admit that any green changes to our homes are purely for environmental reasons, it is likely more to do with saving money. Like any work carried out on our home, we expect to see a return on investment.
Whilst the time it takes to recoup any investment will depend on how much you have spent, it is worth noting that estate agents are observing that green homes are selling for higher prices. With the government suggesting that it could cost just £3,000 to drastically improve the energy efficiency of your home, perhaps investing sooner rather than later could be beneficial.