Making Your Home Carbon Neutral
If you have calculated your personal total carbon footprint and also that of your house, as detailed on our page ' Calculating your home's carbon output', and are shocked to see the size of your carbon footprint, then here are some practical ways to reduce the carbon output from your home.
Your Carbon FootprintFor an individual, the personal carbon footprint, including their share of emissions from the home (for example, if 4 people live in your home, then divide the total output by 4, and accept a quarter responsibility for the total emissions), should be in the region of between 1,000 to 6,000 kg. This is tonnage of annual carbon emissions an individual is responsible for.The ideal figure for an individual, living within a sustainable carbon budget is up to 1,000 kg. This figure is divided by the global population – an average American carbon footprint is 19,800 kg, while an average Indian carbon footprint is 1,200 kg. As with many examples in the global economy, the poorer an individual is, the lower their personal footprint is.
In the Home: What can be Done?Gas and heating are the principal sources of carbon output. Reducing the heating level is an easy and obvious step – keeping the heat on low for longer can have a much lower output than having the heat on high for short periods. Check the thermostat of your system, and if necessary replace it with a more energy efficient model. While you are making changes like these, it is a good idea to monitor the heating bills – hopefully by the next quarter you will see a significant reduction in cost!
Insulation is probably the most effective way to keep your house warm, and to prevent constant emissions. Check if you have cavity wall insulation. All lofts should have insulation to a minimum depth of 30 cm. If this hasn't been done already, do it now, and check to see if you are eligible for any grants from your local Energy Saving Trust. Their contact information will be in the phonebook, or your local Council will have further information.
Electricity: Reducing our DependenceIn the 30 year period between 1972 and 2002, electricity use in the domestic household sector doubled, and looks set to continue. In the western world, we are so dependent upon electricity to power our lifestyles that a world without it seems unimaginable. Yet in some corners of the world, people still survive with kerosene lamps, and others are utilizing wind for power.
Cutting down our dependence is the main way to start, and just by shutting machines off when not in use, not leaving them on standby, and removing the plug from the socket helps.
One potential option is to change your domestic electricity over to a green tariff. These are offered by the big electricity supply companies, and by smaller scale green-focused companies which matches your electricity use with funding renewable power. This is a carbon offsetting scheme – you are still using the same electricity, and potentially at the same high level as before, but a commitment is being shown on all sides to find renewable, and therefore sustainable (and carbon neutral) alternatives.
Other Carbon-Reducing OptionsGenerating some of your own electricity by fitting solar-powered cell, using wind turbines, or using biomass as a heat source are options. Making sure all your appliances are A rated for energy efficiency, and committing to only buying such products, is a sensible step.
Becoming carbon neutral for the householder is a gradual process. It should not be attempted overnight, as changing lifestyles and patterns isn't easy. But it can be fun and very educational to watch your own philosophical transformation as well as your homes, as the carbon reliance and output of, reduces.