Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are increasingly leading to an overall warming of the planet. This results in rising temperatures and more extreme weather events. In the UK, more than a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by the energy we use in our homes.
By reducing the energy we use in our home we can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions whilst at the same time saving money. The less energy you use the less you pay!
There are many ways to save energy in your home. Some are free - for instance remembering to switch off lights when you leave a room; some are simple and low cost like fitting draft excluders; whilst others (such as having loft or cavity wall insulation) may require cost upfront, but offer savings in energy bills which will quickly pay back the money you invested.
Further information on improvements to your home and tips on using less energy can be found in the ‘Saving energy in the home’ [PDF, 297KB] chapter in the 'Greening your home' document or from the Energy Savings Trust.
Improvements to your home
There are a variety of measures that can be carried out on your home to increase its energy efficiency.
Without loft insulation you could be losing as much as 15% of your heating costs through your roof. Insulating your loft is a simple and effective way to reduce your heating bills and you can even do it yourself.
- Find out more about loft insulation on the Energy Savings Trust website
Cavity wall insulation
Cavity wall insulation is a fantastic way to significantly reduce the amount of energy you need to heat your home.
The average house could reduce heating costs by 15%. In fact, between 2002 and 2005 around 800,000 households installed cavity wall insulation.
In most houses built after the 1920s, the external walls are made of two layers with a small air gap or 'cavity' between them.
If your home has unfilled cavity walls, a considerable slice of your energy bills will be spent heating the air outside.
- Find out more about cavity wall insulation on the Energy savings trust website
Solid wall insulation
Solid walls lose even more heat than cavity walls; the only way to reduce this heat loss is to insulate them on the inside or the outside.
This will help create a more even temperature in your home, help prevent condensation on the walls and ceilings and can also reduce the amount of heat building up inside your home during summer hot spells.
It's not cheap, but you will soon see the benefits to your heating bill and it's another way of playing your part in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
There are two types of solid wall insulation: external and internal.
- Find out more about solid wall insulation on the Energy Savings Trust website
If you've ever stepped from your bed in the morning still half asleep only to leap back in again as soon as your warm feet touch the icy cold floor you'll know how a draughty home feels.
Gaps and draughts around skirting boards and floors are simple to fix yourself with a tube of sealant bought from most DIY stores.
- Find out more about floor insulation on the Energy Savings trust website
If you can feel cold air coming in around the windows in your home it means warm air is escaping.
Sitting in a draught doesn't just give you a pain in the neck, in a typical home 20% of all heat loss is through ventilation and draughts.
- Find out more about draught proofing on the Energy Savings trust website
Tank and pipe insulation
Insulating your hot water cylinder is one of the simplest and easiest ways to save energy and money. Fitting a British Standard 'jacket' around your cylinder will cut heat loss by over 75%.
If you already have a jacket fitted, check that it's at least 75mm thick. If not, it's well worth treating your old cylinder to a new winter coat.
- Find out more about tank and pipe insulation on the Energy Savings trust website
Installing double glazing can cut heat loss through windows by half. If you can't afford to replace all the windows, why not choose the rooms that cost you the most to heat?
Double glazing works by trapping air between two panes of glass creating an insulating barrier that reduces heat loss, noise and condensation.
- Find out more about glazing on the Energy Savings trust website
Using renewable energy
There are effective alternatives to fossil fuels that can meet your energy requirements and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
They will either never run out - like wind, the sun and flowing water - or are continually replaceable - like waste products and crops.
These can help reduce our dependence on non-renewable sources like fossil fuels.
Often called 'bioenergy' or 'biofuels', Biomass is produced from organic materials, either directly from plants or indirectly from industrial, commercial, domestic or agricultural products. It falls into two categories, woody and non-woody biomass.
Biomass is considered to be a carbon neutral fuel that can also contribute to waste management.
- Find out more about biomass on the Energy Savings Trust website
Heat pumps transfer heat from the ground, air or water into a building to provide heating and, in some cases, to pre-heat domestic hot water.
With a ground source heat pump you could save between £300 to £1000 on your heating bills.
An air source heat pump could save between £200 and £750 a year on heating bills.
- Find out more about ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps on the Energy Savings trust website
Solar PV (photovoltaic) uses energy from the sun to create electricity to run appliances and lighting.
PV systems produce no greenhouse gases and a typical sized system can save around 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
- Find out more about solar PV on the Energy Savings Trust website
Solar water heating
Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun to work alongside your conventional water heater. Solar water heating can provide you with about a third of your hot water needs.
- Find out more about solar water heating on the Energy Savings Trust website