With the world's largest countries continuing to rely on burning hydrocarbon fuels, cutting carbon emissions has never been more important. So what can you do to contribute to the global effort? Today we're looking at ways to shrink your footprint and create a low carbon home, giving you the power to make a real difference.
Following news last year that the UK government has scrapped targets which would ensure that all new homes in Britain are carbon-neutral, it's never been more important for the rest of us to do our bit. The targets would have ensured that all new homes built from 2016 onwards would have to generate as much energy as they used, offsetting heating, hot water and lighting with renewable energy micro-generation using solar panels or small wind turbines. However, the government has decided to scrap these efforts, in spite of public support and the recommendations of environmental scientists.
This decision comes only months after the government also scrapped the Green Deal, which allowed consumers to offset energy-saving home improvements against their future energy savings, helping to spread the cost of low carbon technology. With the government failing to keep up with public demand for green policy, it's left to the rest of us to do what we can. But if you're not building a new home, what can you do?
Thankfully, those of us in older homes can still do our bit to help shrink the UK's carbon footprint. The first thing you need to do is to set your own target for energy reduction. Do you want to cut your energy usage by half, or will you go the whole hog and wipe out your energy bill entirely? Setting clear goals is important, as without a targeted approach, it's easy to spend a lot of money without getting the results you want. Start by getting advice from the http://www.aecb.net/, and the Energy Saving Trust who can give information on effective energy-reducing strategies and give you the details of local contractors who can help you implement them.
When it comes to saving energy, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. How you save energy depends on a number of factors, including geography, the individual quirks of your home, and the way you and your family live your life. Start with the basics: loft insulation, energy saving bulbs and a high efficiency boiler will collectively make an impact on your energy usage. Next, be smart about the way you use your home: are you heating areas that nobody is using? Even small changes to the way you run your home can make a difference, but if you're aiming at creating a zero-carbon home, you'll need to think bigger.
When it comes to creating a true zero-carbon home, micro-generation technologies like solar cells and wind turbines can be incredibly effective in offsetting your energy uses. These technologies are developing rapidly, and are now easier than ever before to incorporate into your home. Though the government's Green Deal is no more, the mechanism which allows consumers to sell excess energy back to the grid is still in place, and relatively simple to set up. You may even find that your energy supplier has their own scheme which may support your plans.
Making your home carbon neutral is a major challenge, but if you have the will and the resources, anything is possible. Consult with the Energy Saving Trust and the AECB, and put together a plan which is tailored to your individual needs and the way you use your home.