Want to do your bit at home to improve your quality of life, save money, cut down on waste and carbon pollution and get the planet back how it used to be?
Did you know that "the majority of your neighbours are undertaking energy saving actions every day" and that it's also one of the most powerful messages to get people to save?
This site is not about selling you 'hell' or 'hell-avoidance', but
rather all about practical things that I have done or thought about to make my own life (and that of my family) a little better and lower-carbon without wearing a hair-shirt, and many of them are things that you could do too... (But note that the average European probably has to cut their carbon footprint by 80% to stand a chance of averting the worst of climate change!)
Catch yourself doing something right and do more of it!
Things That We've Done
We've crunched our carbon footprint,
we've become a SuperHome,
pondered other things that we might do,
but most of all there's been quite a lot of fun learning.
Maybe it's my engineering mindset,
but I've made a hobby out of conservation and meter watching,
and had fun out of 'tuning' life a little,
and the rest of my family humours me!
See a full list of articles in the site guide, but here's some things to start with that we did...
Things That You Can Do
Effective changes that can be made at home are based on lowering energy/resource demand...
- Lighting: low-energy light bulbs (eg CFL / compact fluorescent and LED preferably at 60 lumens per Watt (60lm/W) efficiency or better).
If rewiring, then look at 12V light circuits connecting to PV/battery systems.
- High-efficiency white goods (eg fridges) and other electrical goods at home and at work; look at energy consumption in use, eg per wash or while on, and in 'standby' mode if you won't be turning them off at the wall.
- For cooking: investigate CO2 savings with induction cookers and microwave ovens.
- Clothes washing: alternate ideas with drying (eg on a line), and low-temperature (cold/30°C/40°C) washing and do full loads.
Also, simple changes in habits and textiles (wool is brilliant compared to cotton for whole-life costing as well as washing/drying/ironing).
- Low water-use toilets, showers.
- Insulation and thermal mass (over-cladding buildings).
- Close curtains at dusk to retain heat (and on hot sunny days to keep the sun/heat out).
- Turn down your heating thermostat 1°C for up to 10% saving; 18°C to 21°C is about right during the day (and hypothermia is only really a risk when temperatures at home are as low as 5°C, but spending more than two hours at 12°C raises blood pressure), and nearer 14°C at night when sleeping. Only heat rooms that you are using. Use a timer (or something smarter) to avoid heating when no one is home! Wearing the right clothing helps keep you comfortable at lower temperatures.
- Don't have your hot water thermostat set higher than 60°C/140°F, and 'instant' water heaters avoid losses from a tank for new systems.
- Don't leave gadgets and appliances on standby/charging, turn them off (maybe with a smart power-strip or trailing adaptor) or unplug them; you might trim as much as 30% off your electricity bill.
- Check your mains electricity use at home with tools such as the Kill-a-Watt meter, or just read your supply meter daily or weekly. Gas too.
- Minimise the electricity you use at times of peak grid load (eg 4pm to 9pm in the autumn/winter in the UK) since more carbon-intensive and expensive fuels may be burnt in 'peaking' plants, and the grid is under most strain too. Intensity at peak time circa 2009 was ~0.6kgCO2/kWh, as much as 50% over typical levels.
- Reduce, re-use, recycle.
- See some thoughtful tips at MoneySavingExpert.com.
Every kWh of electricity saved avoids production of ~0.43kg of CO2 in the UK.
Sources and Links
- 2016/12/08: When it comes to insulation, can you have too much of a good thing? foam off-gassing of green-house gases vs energy saved; XPS doesn't look good.
- 2016/10/04: The UK could treble the amount of solar power on the system without pushing up costs... "The analysis by Aurora Energy Research also finds that it would be relatively cheap to more than treble the amount of solar on the system from 11GW today to 40GW (gigawatts) by 2030, which would provide 10% of the UK's power."
- 2016/09/13: XKCD: Earth Temperature Timeline.
- 2016/09/01: Chris Huhne: I’ve changed my mind on renewables targets including nuke not being panacea, and coping with cold dark days in UK mid-winter.
- 2016/08/08: UK power demand hits long-term low: "Total power demand in the UK's high-voltage transmission system fell to at least an 11-year low yesterday morning, as strong output from embedded wind generation facilities and warm summer weather conditions weighed on system demand. Demand on the transmission network dropped to a long-term low of 18.7GW at 06:00-06:30 BST (05:00-05:30 GMT), the lowest level in transmission system operator National Grid's data, which go back to 1 April 2005. Embedded wind farms produced 1.68GW of power during this half-hourly period, compared with a daily average of 1.03GW in 2016 so far..."
- 2016/07/27: "... very few people are paying much attention to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), with only 37 per cent across the UK saying they look for it when buying a property.''
- 2016/07/20: The Green Deal failed because Marketing  focused on the financial benefits of installing energy-efficiency measures, rather than emphasising the comfort of having a well-insulated, energy-efficient home Public Accounts Committee said.
- 2016/05/11: ARUP: residential energy efficiency" "The UK has about 28 million homes, of which almost 18 million are owner-occupied. About 30% of all the energy consumed in the UK is consumed in homes – consumption that is responsible for around 30% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions." ... "Halving the energy consumed in all homes is a major challenge, but it will bring tremendous economic, social and environmental opportunities." ... "Innovate UK’s Retro t for the Future project show that reductions in residential CO2 emissions of as much as 80% are achievable..."
- 2016/05/10: Britain gets no power from coal for 'first time on record' "Britain generated no electricity from coal on Tuesday morning [midnight to 4am] for what is believed to be the first time since the 19th century , in a major milestone in the decline of the polluting power source."
- 2016/04/20: Stop Wasting Food to Slow Global Warming: It might also help to eat less or even no meat. "Cutting down on milk and meat protein are top ways to lower an individual’s carbon footprint..."
- 2016/04/18: Round-trip self-consumption efficiencies can be 50--80%, especially poor at low night drain: "At partial load, there can be a difference between systems of up to 40 percent."
- 2016/04/14: Major London housing development to be zero carbon from October 2016: "The estimated cost impact of moving to zero carbon homes in 2016 represents circa an additional 1-1.4% of base build cost….the move to zero carbon homes in 2016, do[es] not represent a significant determinant in the viability and the deliverability of housing development in London."
- 2016/04/13: UK solar generation tops coal for the first time: "On Saturday 9 April, solar generated 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, 4% of the total used that day and more than the 21GWh output from coal (3% of demand). This pattern was repeated on Sunday, with solar (6%) outpacing coal (3%). The milestone is largely symbolic. Solar output had already started regularly topping coal during the middle of the day. And it has yet to overtake coal across a full week, month or year."
- 2016/04/03: David MacKay final interview: nukes and CCS are good for a zero-carbon solution that works in the winter “Then if you ask what is the optimal amount of wind and solar to add in then the answer is going to be almost zero,” he said. “I love wind turbines – they are the cathedrals of the modern age – but they are a waste of money if you have a low carbon solution that gets you through the winter … because when the wind blows you are going to have to either turn them down or something else down that you have already paid for like nuclear or CCS.”
- Here's how you can reduce your carbon footprint by 1 tonne per year; just four steps for the average Brit.
- Amongst other things the sust-it site ranks electrical goods such as TVs and fridges by energy consumption in sensible ways, which is a very valuable service.
- The Energy Saving Trust, a member of the European Energy Network.
- There are various smart power-strips available to make it easy to turn off things properly and avoid bending down too often, or delving behind the sofa, such as from oneclick.
- The fantastic Freegle (was FreeCycle) for giving useful things a good home, as an alternative to charity shops or landfill.
- Free DIY repair manuals from iFixit.
- Retail cost breakdown for one UK electricity supplier (Scottish Hydro) circa 2012: 50% wholesale energy, 24% distribution, 10% government schemes, 6% customer service, VAT 5%, profit 5% (2012/08).
- Without Hot Air (free) book by David MacKay; real crunchy numbers and a TreeHugger summary and 2012 video at TEDx.
- IRENA Global Atlas of renewable energy.
- The Zerocarbonista blog by Dale Vince of Ecotricity,
the very good and sometimes tongue-in-cheek TreeHugger.com blog/news site,
the ForceField DIY alternative power generation board,
the RealClimate Data Sources page,
Renewable Energy World,
the Cleantech Blog,
Blewbury Energy Initiative,
Home Power magazine.
- See older news items...
2014/08/22 OpenTRV Wuthering Bytes 2015 talk,
2014/08/22 OpenTRV Wuthering Bytes 2014 talk,
2014/06/03 OpenTRV Green Challenge "elevator pitch" video,
2013/12/30 Cleanweb Mark Hill talking about OpenTRV; how we aim to halve your energy bill,
2013/05/13 The evidence for climate change WITHOUT computer models or the IPCC,
2012/12/08 Adam Hart-Davis talks about small-scale solutions to climate change,
2012/12/04 Dinner Parties, Guest Bedrooms, and Multiple Offices in a 420 Square Foot Apartment,
2012/10/29 Close The Door,
2012/10/16 From U-values to conjugal bliss in under 3 minutes,
2012/09/09 Geophysical Limits to Global Wind Power "at the level of present global primary power demand (~18TW), uniformly distributed wind turbines are unlikely to substantially affect the Earth's climate",
2011/12/28 How does carbon offsetting work? (Adam Hart-Davis),
2011/09/26 A day in the life... dovetailing energy and water and time and money saving,
2011/09/06 Visualizing a plenitude economy,
2011/03/20 Wind doing good in a small US community (Siemens),
2011/03/19 Living in a Zero-Waste Home,
OLD Isaac Asimov on the greenhouse effect in 1989,
time history of CO2,
simple and clear "smart grid" summary from Con Edison (New York),
the Energy Saving Trust YouTube channel which is witty and watchable,
December 2009 Human Power Shower - Bang Goes The Theory - BBC One,
the excellent and light-hearted YouTube video on global warming "How It All Ends",
the "We can fix it Together" call to action, and Adam Hart-Davis talking about the Masai and how small is beautiful.