Climate Change: 3 household tips to help reduce carbon footprint

An older-model thermostat is seen attached to a heating radiator in an apartment on February 18, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Consumers are expected to enjoy lower-than-average heating bills...

The Committee on Climate Change wants the UK to reach nearly net zero emissions by 2050.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published a report with guidance on how the UK can become a world leader in the fight against global warming.

By changing public behaviour, the CCC hope that the UK can reduce its overall carbon footprint. The overall ambition is to help the UK achieve nearly net zero emissions by 2050.

To get to this point, individuals need to start living more economically. The CCC has provided three household tips to help each individual reduce their carbon footprint.

We take a look at the CCC's three recommendations for the home and analyse whether people will follow these guidelines.

Energy efficiency

New Philips LED that can replace traditional household light bulbs. LED lights use 50-80% less energy than a traditional light bulb,

The CCC saysImprove the energy efficiency of your home (or ask your landlord to) through draughtproofing, improved insulation, choosing LED light-bulbs and appliances with high efficiency ratings.

Households that are not draughtproofed waste heat and make the property colder. Consequently, the house requires more heating to provide warmth, using more energy and costing more money. Draughtproofing involves blocking gaps around doors, windows and chimneys and can be done yourself with the correct materials.

Insulation is another type of draughtproofing. You can get insulation for your loft, roof, walls, pipes, radiators, tanks or floor. While this will incur a short-term cost, it provides a long-term solution to keeping the house warm, saving both money and energy.

LED lightbulbs are now readily available in the UK and this could be another money-saver. The Energy Saving Trust predicts that changing all lightbulbs in the house to LED alternatives could save as much as £35 per year on electricity bills.

Other household appliances, such as kettles, toasters, microwaves, etc., have energy-efficient alternatives. These can be found by looking at the 'energy ratings' label on the product.

Convincing people to be more prudent and live more efficiently is a realistic goal. But there needs to be a shift in general public opinion to convince more people to start switching to energy-efficient alternatives.

Thermostat limits

Nest Learning Thermostat,  exhibited in a Google pavilion during the Mobile World Congress, on February 27, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.

The CCC saysSet thermostats no higher than 19°C and the water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55°C.

This report has published guidance on the temperature to set thermostats at. However, recommending 19 degrees could be an overly ambitious target. Especially when it is cold in winter, 19 degrees will not seem an adequate temperature to warm a house.

But merely turning your thermostat down by one degree could save up to £80 and 320kg carbon dioxide per year, according to The Energy Saving Trust. Proper installation and draughtproofing, as mentioned above, are other ways of saving money and energy.

Low-carbon heating system

Geothermal ground source heat pump system Chelsea Building Society Cheltenham UK.

The CCC saysConsider switching to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump, especially if you live off the gas grid; if you are on the gas grid consider a hybrid system.

Heat pumps are more efficient methods of providing heat for the household. These systems transfer warmth from the ground and other outside sources to provide warmth inside.

The main problem will be the relatively expensive upfront cost of the installation of heat pumps. But in the long run, the lower running costs of heat pumps will save money and significantly reduce one's carbon footprint.

Climate change activists face two challenges: to convince homeowners to cough up the funds for installing a heat pump and to prove the sustainability of the technology.

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