10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home

At C Free, our priority is to help our customers reduce their carbon footprint before they offset it – and where better to start than at home? Here, we outline 10 ways to minimise the impact your lifestyle has on the planet.

Sept. 30, 2020, noon by Anna Prendergast

According to the Committee on Climate Change, 40% of the UK’s emissions come from households, and taking steps to cut our carbon footprint at home is simpler that you might think. That said, it’s important to acknowledge that carbon emissions in UK households directly correlate to income, and vulnerable houses tend to produce lower emissions, highlighting the fact that financially stable homeowners and landlords have an increased responsibility to take action where they can. From applying to government support schemes to remembering to turn the lights off when you leave a room, C Free’s guide breaks down the best and most efficient ways to reduce your CO2e emissions from the comfort of your own home. 

1) Switch your energy provider to a green energy tariff. Between January and May 2019, Britain generated more power from renewable energy than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Whilst over half of the UK’s energy providers now offer a green option but only four own renewable generation: use Which’s quiz to help you understand different kinds of ‘green’ claims and do your homework – we like T3’s handy guide to the best here, and their energy comparison site here. Cutting down on your energy usage also saves you money on your bills.

2) Take it up with the government. As of September 2020, the UK Government’s Green Homes Grant means homeowners can apply for funds that allow them to make energy-saving improvements around their home. Vouchers worth up to £10,000 are designed to fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements in over 600,000 homes, and will create over 100,000 jobs in green construction as part of an economic recovery plan. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was also devised to encourage homeowners in the UK to install renewable heating technology and reduce their carbon emissions – find out more about applying here.

3) Turn down and turn off. Switching off mains appliances and lights whenever they’re not in use reduces your energy usage, and therefore your emissions. We’re all guilty of leaving our phones to charge overnight (when they only really need a couple of hours plugged in) or putting the TV on standby rather than taking a few extra seconds to turn it off at the mains. All these things add up, and waste precious resources.

4) Insulate properly. Insulate your walls, your boiler cylinder, your floors and your loft to reduce the need for central heating, thus saving on energy spent trying to warm a house that just lets all the heat out anyway. It’s one of the most cost-efficient ways to save money, as you can ‘make back’ the initial money spent within just a couple of years: cavity wall insulation can save you £150 on heating a year, for example. 

5) Reduce your water usage. The average UK household uses around 345 litres per day, and roughly a third of our energy bills go on heating water. Low-flow taps (also known as tap aerators) are easy and quick to install, and work by injecting air into the stream, maintaining the illusion of a ‘normal’ tap whilst dramatically reducing waste water – regular taps dispense around 15-18 litres per minute, whilst a low-flow version can reduce that to two litres per minute. 

6) Invest in solar panels. Photovoltaic panels harness energy from the sun and convert it into direct current electricity, making it one of the ‘greenest’ sources. It’s an expensive option, but well worth investing in and connecting to the National Grid, as once the panels generate more energy than your individual home needs, it puts that energy back into the Grid. For every kWh of energy you generate, you receive a fixed payment, plus you get paid for any surplus energy you produce.

7) Maximise the efficiency of your appliances. We all rely on electrical appliances like dishwashers and washing machines – they’re brilliant, time-saving, labour-reducing inventions. But if they’re not serviced properly or looked after, their life span will be reduced and their efficiency will be compromised. Get them serviced as soon as they stop working properly, and use ‘eco’ settings where possible. Washing clothes at 30° can save up to 40% more energy than on higher temperatures, and air-drying clothes rather than using a tumble dryer saves the energy needed to power 225 light bulbs for an hour

8) Aim for zero landfill waste. It might sound impossible, but cutting out single-use plastic alone can cut your landfill contributions considerably. Recycle paper, cardboard, glass, tin and even some plastics through your local council. Compost raw food waste, and use C Free’s guide to reducing the carbon footprint of your food. Instead of buying new, borrow off neighbours (sign up to Next Door to connect with people nearby) and make the most of your local community. Entertaining at home? Rent party decorations, so that they don’t sit in a draw and eventually end up in the bin, or hire businesses such as Lay London to create a beautiful tablescape.

9) Buying off-plan? Consider materials like hemp, bamboo and cork in the construction of your home. Last year, Cork House was nominated for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize – its biogenic construction was carbon-negative, it had low whole life carbon and all components were reusable or recyclable. The innovative concept, which was ‘designed for disassembly’, illustrated a gap in architecture for pioneering the use of alternative, low-emission materials.

10) Offset your home’s remaining carbon emissions. With just a few clicks on C Free’s calculator, you can offset the carbon emissions produced by simply living your life, and fund projects that help take carbon out of the equation.

Read more:

10 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your food

10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint when you travel

10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint of your shopping