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Published: 13/06/2016

How to reduce your carbon emissions

For many years now the term “reducing your carbon emissions or footprint” has been bounced around, but how can you actually reduce your carbon footprint, and where do you start?

Whether it’s reducing the cost and changing the energy type that you use to heat your home, or personal choices such as throwing that tin can in the waste or the recycling bin, there are many things – from small daily actions to big investment choices, for you to choose to help reduce your emissions.

 

So what is a carbon emission?

Through the process of burning fossil fuels (petrol, oil, diesel, gas, coal etc..) to create energy, a carbon dioxide emission is released into the air and polluting it. This then gets trapped in our ozone which has a knock on effect of warming our planet up (global warming) which in turn creates further problems.

The main concern is that most things we do and use on a daily basis are powered by fossil fuels – boiling your kettle, driving to work, working on your computer, showering via an electric shower, using a hair dryer etc. All of these either use electricity or fuel to power them.

We have become so used to having this resource so readily available that we truly would be lost once all the fossil fuels have been used up – and they will all eventually be depleted to unusable levels. Hence why scientists are trying to find ways for everyone to use sustainable / renewable energy sources to fuel their way of life, as well as everyone doing their bit to help reduce carbon emissions.

To help reduce your carbon emissions there are many changes you can make to your daily life. These can include turning off a light when you leave a room or are finished doing what you were doing, or turning your heating down, car sharing or using public transport instead. If you have to have a car, as most of us do in this day and age, then look at buying a car that is more environmentally friendly, such as an electric car or a low carbon model.

Simple changes

Changing the way you drive and having the right amount of air in your tyres will also help. By being an erratic driver you are using more fuel than you need, through things like slamming on your brakes, harsh acceleration and driving in the wrong gear. A smoother driving style will help, as you will be using less fuel and there will be less wear and tear on your car, all amounting to you reducing your carbon emission and saving money.

Eating local produce can also reduce your carbon emissions, as it means your food hasn’t travelled far to your nearest supermarket/shop. You can also try and reduce the amount of mail you have, and when you have the option to go paperless do it. This way, further correspondence will be sent via email instead of traditional letters. If you have a newspaper – recycle it, or switch to reading the news electronically.

These are all small ways for you to reduce your emissions. Just imagine if everyone in the World followed these simple steps – overall global emissions could reduce greatly.

Now, how can you make a slightly bigger improvement through your home?

 

Bigger steps

There are many ways you can reduce your energy demand or utilise renewable energy in your own home. Thoroughly insulate your home, make sure draughts are prevented and, if your windows are old, get new ones. These actions will help to stop heat escaping. This should result in your heating thermostat being turned down, as you won’t need to use as much heat to heat your home and keep it warm. You could also install solar panels on your roof to absorb the sun’s energy and turn it into energy for your home to use, which won’t cause any nasty emissions.

You may like to harness energy from the wind by placing a wind turbine on your house or in your garden. The turbine collects kinetic energy from the wind and harnesses it into electric energy. Don’t worry, you won’t have to have one of the huge turbines that are found on wind farms, there are ones that have been scaled down to suit homes and gardens. Although do bear in mind that these have been known to be noisy and cause complaints from neighbours.

Another option is heat pumps. These are a great way to heat your home and hot water, and are something we specialise in. You can either have an air source heat pump, ground or water source heat pump. Air source heat pumps absorb warmth from the surrounding air and turn it into heat. Ground source heat pumps work similarly to the air source heat pumps, but extract heat from the ground instead.

Although these options are not cheap they do have long term benefits to help reduce carbon emissions. Ultimately they are an investment, as they can potentially add value to your home. There are government incentives that may be able to help towards the costs. For example, if you have an MCS heat pump then you may be entitled to RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive). This is where the government pays you for changing to a renewable energy source for the following seven years.

There we are, a few steps to help you towards reducing your carbon emission and helping to reduce the effect of carbon emissions on our planet. How are you going to make the change?