With climate change now an acknowledged problem, many people are keen to know what they can do as individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are several measures you can take to reduce your “carbon footprint” without compromising your lifestyle. You can reduce the energy used in your home (or office) and your carbon footprint and save money by these fairly easy actions:
- Replacing all incandescent light globes with LED lights (about $100-300).
- Switch off appliances when they are not in use, rather than leaving them on standby mode ($0).
- Switch off lights when they are not needed ($0)
- If you have a second fridge, turn it off when it is not needed. Don’t just leave it running.
- Use a kettle on gas stove to heat hot water for beverages rather than an electric jug. If you do use an electric kettle, make sure to only fill it with as much as is needed, but that the heating elements are still covered with water.
- Set your thermostat to 18-20C in winter and 26C in summer.
- Seal draughts and gaps around external doors and windows, and make sure you close curtains after dark.
- Commute to and from your workplace by carpooling, using public transportation, cycling, or — best of all — telecommute from your home.
Some more costly actions are:
- Install a solar hot water heater (about $2000, rebates available). Hot water accounts for about 30% of domestic energy consumption, so this is one of the most effective ways to reduce household carbon emissions.
- Buy green power – this means a percentage of the electricity you consume is sourced from renewable energy. Make sure you check how green the power is as some retailers are better than others. Ask them what the percentage of their green power comes from clean energy sources. This will add about 10% to your electricity bill.
- Install a grid interactive solar array so you can generate your own electricity and feed clean power back into the grid ($5,000 to $20,000 depending on the number of panels, rebates available).
If you are building or renovating
- Use a [passive solar design] which can include north or south facing windows depending on your worldwide latitude and prevailing weather, shading systems and thermal mass. This can dramatically reduce both your heating and cooling energy bills.
- Use double glazing and/or thermal efficient glass
- Use maximum [insulation] in walls, roofs and under floors. You can exceed the building regulation requirements to get better insulation.
If you are buying or replacing appliances
- Install a gas oven rather than an electic one. Using gas for cooking and heating produces about a third of the carbon emissions compared to using electricity.
- Read [Fridge facts] to find out how important an energy efficient fridge is.
- Buy energy efficient appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and fridges. They may cost a little more, but you will recoup power costs over their operating life. Fridges use the most electricity as they are running all the time.
What about [carbon credits]?
You can buy [carbon credits] to offset your power consumption and carbon emissions, but be aware that these may not actually lead to reduced carbon emissions. Checkout who is offering the credits and make sure they are accredited.