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A guide to cutting both our energy bills and our carbon footprint

  • by JW

“This energy security and price crisis is another prompt to do this.”


Maybe we need to be taking drastic action to reduce our energy bills/carbon footprint – but in the meantime, we can take a few practical steps, as outlined by the Guardian recently:

There is a need to address energy demand now, according to Prof Nick Eyre, director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions at Oxford University, both as a result of the Ukraine crisis and to tackle climate change. Reducing demand and decarbonising our energy systems is something we should be doing anyway for climate reasons, said Eyre, in order to meet our targets for net zero. “This energy security and price crisis is another prompt to do this,” he said. “It will be expensive – but a windfall tax on companies who, at best, have had a pretty dubious relationship with Russia, would help pay for it.”

Molly Scott Cato, former Green MEP and professor of economics at the University of Roehampton, says the UK government should launch a massive, nationwide, and publicly funded home insulation programme backed up by information campaigns about how to use energy efficiently, including reducing the thermostat settings on central heating systems and introducing a 55mph speed limit on the national road network to cut energy demand.

Behavioural changes that could make a difference

  • Turn down the thermostat on your boiler by 1C. If everyone in the UK did this, it would reduce their energy demand by 10%. Energy bills would be cut by £670m, while saving 3.5m tonnes of CO2 a year, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
  • Set your heating to come on only when required. This is estimated to help reduce a household’s electricity use by 2.8% and gas use by 2% (Energy Savings Trust).
  • Set thermostats no higher than 19C and the water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55C, says the Committee on Climate Change.
  • Keep your shower time to four minutes. This could save a typical household 950kWh of energy and 195kg of carbon emissions a year; equivalent to driving 700 miles from Birmingham to Aberdeen and back again (Energy Savings Trust).
  • Turning lights off when leaving a room will save you around 70kWh of energy and 17kg of carbon annually – the equivalent to driving 61 miles from London to Canterbury (Energy Savings Trust).
  • Insulate your home. A fully insulated home is 50% more energy efficient than a property that has no insulation, according to Eyre.
  • Cut domestic energy demand by introducing a four-day week and encouraging more working from home, says the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.
  • Speed up the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps. After the failure of the Green Homes Grant, the government will launch its replacement on 1 April 2022. The boiler upgrade scheme will offer a £5,000 grant to replace gas boilers with air-sourced heat pumps. Switching from a typical gas heating system to an air-source heat pump could save about 9,200 kWh a year (Energy Savings Trust).
  • Increase the use of renewableswhich are now the cheapest form of energy production on the market. 649 solar and windfarms already have planning permission; if they went ahead they would save more gas than currently imported by the UK from Russia, according to Carbon Brief.
  • Replace fossil-fuelled cars with electric ones. A fully electric vehicle could save 2 tonnes of CO2 a year and help end dependence on fossil fuel (CCC).

Could a behavioural change campaign save energy and cut Russian gas imports? | Energy efficiency | The Guardian..

A Welsh pensioner has taken drastic action:

A woman from North Wales has resorted to lighting her home with battery-operated fairy lights to save money on bills amid the energy crisis. The Anglesey pensioner, who didn’t wish to be named, said the money-saving hack has made a huge difference to her electricity bills…

Anglesey pensioner resorts to lighting home with fairy lights to save money on energy bills – North Wales Live

And there are lots of other lists online, such as this from today’s Sunday Mirror:

22 ways to help save the planet and reduce your energy bills ahead of Earth Day – Mirror Online

Including on these earlier posts:

Basic energy-saving tips – Vision Group for Sidmouth

More basic energy-saving tips – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Finally, carbon footprint calculators come with lots of tips on how to reduce it:

How to really cut your carbon footprint? Buy three garments a year. Don’t fly for 36 months