From heatwaves and droughts to super storms and floods, the weather in 2018 has given many of us reason to pause for thought.
For weeks this summer, the headlines were dominated by wildfires, droughts and record-breaking temperatures, heightening concerns about global warming. Climate change isn’t going away and its very real impacts, which we all experienced over the summer, tell us that we need to act now.
For many of us, climate change weighs heavily and it can be confusing to get to grips with what we, as individuals, can do to help tackle it. One Home aims to provide clear practical guidance on climate action and greener lifestyle choices.
We have put together five key actions that get right to the heart of fixing the world’s biggest problem by reducing your own carbon footprint so you can do your bit. If you genuinely wish to help, then choosing a few of these is a great start to cut greenhouse gases. And there are so many benefits to a low carbon lifestyle that you will discover along the way – it costs less, helps improve the air that we breathe and increases our sense of well-being. By all of us making small changes we can protect the people and places we love from climate change.
1. Choose Green Electricity
Power your home in a cleaner way by choosing a green energy tariff or supplier. Making the switch means your home will be powered with electricity from sustainable sources, such as wind and solar, based here in the UK. It also means you are choosing a form of electricity that has far lower carbon dioxide emissions than conventional brown electricity that relies on imported fossil fuels.
By supporting green energy, you’re enabling further investment into technologies that support a more sustainable energy system. The switch takes about 20 minutes, costs you nothing and involves no paper work, disconnections or engineer call outs. Simply search on line to find the best deal. Then you need to provide your new greener supplier with your latest meter readings and payment details and that is it. Customers who end up switching, often save money so it is worth doing for the planet and also to reduce your energy bills.
If you are able to invest in your own renewable energy sources, solar is an excellent choice. Solar power is the world’s fastest growing energy resource because it is reliable, affordable, easy to install and causes no pollution. Generating electricity from the sun is free if you install solar panels on your roof. These cost from £5,000 and work best financially if you use a lot of the power at home, rather than exporting surplus electricity to the grid. Unfortunately, solar power subsidies closed for new registration in April 2019, although existing customers will still receive the benefits.
2. Eat Less Meat
Eating less meat and dairy products has benefits for both your health and the environment. The production of red meat and processed meat in particular, consumes a lot of energy and has a significant impact on the environment because of the feed consumed and the methane the cows and sheep produce. If turning vegetarian seems a step too far, try ‘Meat Free Mondays’ which is just one day a week when you choose to eat a plant-based diet. Go to meatfreemondays.com/recipes to feel inspired and to try delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes that contain less saturated fats.
3. Holiday close to home to protect our one home
Great Britain has some of the most captivating and varied landscapes in the world. Choose amazing holiday experiences and enjoy all the benefits of flight-free trips – no queues, germs or jetlag. A family of four driving to Cornwall from Bristol produces around 92 kg of carbon dioxide for a return trip. However, a flight from London to Orlando, Florida would produce 2,720kg of CO2, which is thirty times as much greenhouse gases.
Long-haul flights in particular are exceedingly bad for burning large quantities of fossil fuels so, if you wish to travel beyond the UK, ferry routes to mainland Europe and the Eurostar offer a gateway to many fantastic destinations and are a great alternative to flying. Take a look at this Guardian article for inspiration.
4. Wrap up your home for a warm and cosy winter
Insulating your home and cutting out drafts has the biggest impact on energy conservation in the home. This simple low-cost, one-off action prevents wasting energy, which means your home is more comfortable in winter and summer for decades to come.
You will also significantly reduce your heating bills and carbon emissions are cut as less gas and oil are burnt. Home improvements such as cavity wall or solid wall insulation makes a huge difference. Other great measures include topping up loft insulation to 27cm, draft proofing windows and doors, using a smart thermostat set at 19C, lagging pipes and fitting thermal-lined curtains.
Particularly if you are retired or recipient of any form of benefits, many of these improvements receive Government grants or subsidies. Asking your energy supplier is a good first step to find out what support you may be eligible for to insulate your home.
5. All Electric Cars: Plug don’t pump
Sales of alternatively fuelled cars such as, electric cars and plug-in hybrids grew by 23 per cent in August compared to the same period in 2017. These vehicles are revolutionising our transport system, which is the biggest source of greenhouse gases in the UK. Electric cars can play a vital role in reducing global carbon emissions. Electric cars are charged using power from the grid, which is increasingly supplied from low-carbon sources such as wind and solar energy.
Our cars are used on average for less than 5% of the day so they can be easily plugged in, like a mobile phone, whenever the battery needs topping up (which is usually while we sleep). An electric vehicle is considerably cheaper to run than a diesel or petrol car and there is a £3,500 government grant to contribute to a new low emission car. The added bonus is there are no tail-pipe emissions so the quality of the air we breathe significantly improves. With so many options, buying the right vehicle for you can be confusing. NextGreenCar provides a comprehensive guide to what is on the market and the different types of electric car that are available. Most importantly, buy a plug-in vehicle or at least a plug-in hybrid rather than a petrol, diesel or standard hybrid to bring your carbon emissions right down.
Small changes make a big difference
“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." These words from Anna Lappe, author and sustainable food expert, drives home the point that we, as consumers, need to take our purchasing decisions seriously. Let’s choose to spend our money and take actions in a way that supports a greener and more sustainable way of life. What we decide to do today and every day counts as our contribution towards global warming. It’s not just up to Government or industry it’s up to all of us to make a difference. These five top actions to combat climate change are a great start to reduce reliance on polluting fossil fuels and choose a brighter, cleaner and greener future. Not only that, these actions will save you money, contribute to an improved quality of life and a healthier one too. It really is great to go green.
We all share one home. Let’s make it a better place.
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