In the UK about 30% of national energy use, and 28% of greenhouse emissions, come from domestic energy consumption (figures for 2000, see Mayer Hillman’s book).
Some people feel that nothing can happen unless the government makes us reduce our emissions, for example by giving us grants to install energy efficient measures. But the experience of our group is that by getting more knowledgeable and making changes ourselves, it is possible to make significant reductions in personal energy use. Many of these changes do not involve life style change or discomfort and pay for themselves in the long run. We have made a list of the changes that various group members have made- see home energy changes. Some are small things and some involve investment.
The main thing we have found is that you have to become a bit more carbon literate or else it’s impossible to know which changes are making a worthwhile difference. The national CRAG website (Carbon Reduction Action Group) gives information about how to measure and reduce your footprint. This page is about home energy but in measuring your footprint you may well find that larger energy savings are to be made in other areas of your life particularly transport.
Here are case examples of home energy reductions made by two members in our group. In both cases the intention is to make further reductions.
NB all figures are annual and rounded for simplicity. CO2 equivalents for electricity assume that it is taken from the grid on a non-green tariff.
Victorian mid terrace, south facing, with two main living rooms, and family of four (two pre-teen children), reasonably well insulated.
Before 3050 kWh electricity from national grid
(1.5 tonnes CO2 or 0.38 t per person).
After 641 kWh electricity from the national grid
(0.32 t CO2 or 0.08 t per person)
2073 kWh generated from solar panels
Thus, 336 kWh reduction in total kWh used on previous year due to being more energy conscious.
How installed solar voltaic panels for domestic electricity generation, became more conscious about electricity use.
Why Because we want to do more, know what the IPCC forecasts are and Stern Review says, and worry like mad about the future for our children and their generation.
Note: Previously installed an ecoTEC combination boiler and reduced gas used annually by 30% – downside is not being able to install a solar panels for domestic hot water generation (ie no hot water tank).
Five bedroom Victorian detached house; two adults and three teenage children. Intrinsically draughty & poorly insulated.
Before (2005) 45000 kWh gas (approx. 9 t CO2)
7400 kWh grid electricity (approx. 3.7 t CO2)
After (2007) 26000kWh gas (approx. 5.2 t CO2)
3600kWh grid electricity (approx. 1.8 t CO2)
i.e. 55% of previous year’s energy use
How Being more careful with energy use, more draught proofing & insulation, solar & PV roof panels, condensing gas boiler when the old one broke. The above has been achieved without discomfort but obviously some of the measures cost money.
Why Concern about climate change and wanting to ‘do something’ in the absence of Government action. Also curious about how easy/ difficult it is to make personal energy savings.
Neither house owner is complacent about current energy use and is exploring ways to make further reductions.
Home electricity and heating energy use is easy to measure, monitor and reduce (even without financial expenditure) but is only part of an individual’s ‘carbon footprint’.