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!
What [a] great resource!!! TE, UK.
I've found the info and articles at earth.org.uk really useful - thanks. TK, UK.
Love what you are doing and the fantastic data sets you have made available. Well done! RF, US.
... You have inspired me to get Solar panels. PF, UK.
I recently stumbled across your quite fantastic website... AE, UK.
I've been reading your site for the last couple of years and think it is excellent. PF, UK.
Thanks for your wonderful website - I look at it a lot. A, UK.
... thanks again for your great site, I look forward to reading the rest of it and learning even more. JM, UK.
It's very refreshing to see something that outlines the benefits, drawback[s] and the options in such a non-judgemental way... JS, US.
... some very useful & interesting info... GR, UK.
... a great resource when it comes to cutting your power consumption. MS, UK, via Twitter.
This is a fantastic comprehensive site. I have found a whole load of interesting stuff from it. JC, Wales.
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:
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).
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.
Every kWh of electricity saved avoids production of ~0.43kg of CO2 in the UK.
Sources and Links
NEW 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..."
NEW 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."
NEW 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."
NEW 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.”
NEW 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."
2015/10/15: National Grid (GB) Winter Outlook Report: "Our analysis suggests that electricity margins will continue to be tight but manageable throughout the winter period." and "Current embedded wind generation capacity is 4.0 GW and embedded solar generation capacity is 7.8 GW. We have assumed a 90 MW increase per month in solar generation in our forecasts." See also CarbonBrief Q&A.
2015/10/13: The Lights Are Staying On: "The think-tank Sustainability First estimates that there is potential for up to 18,000MW of demand response available at the winter peak.".
2015/02/25: European grids prepare for solar eclipse on March 20 "Under a clear morning sky on 20 March 2015, some 35,000 megawatts of solar energy, which is the equivalent of nearly 80 medium size conventional generation units, will gradually fade from Europe's electrical system before being gradually re-injected: all in the space of two hours," ENTSO-E said.