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Reducing our carbon footprint

19th February 2021
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Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth

Let’s look initially at energy in the home – did you know that around 26% of carbon emissions come from our home energy use? Finding ways to reduce our energy use not only cuts emissions, it also saves money!

Greener heating systems
Start by looking at your boiler age and efficiency and replace it if it is over 10 years old. Improving insulation by installing double or triple glazing, roof and cavity wall insulation reduces energy consumption and keeps your home warmer.
From September 2020, homeowners in England have had access to £10,000 of vouchers to make energy-saving home improvements through the UK Government’s Green Homes Grant scheme.
If you are building a new home or you’re thinking about upgrading your heating system, look for greener options. From 2025, gas boilers will be banned in new-build homes, so get ahead of the curve and consider smarter home heating such as storage-heaters which are more planet-friendly and heat efficiently. Think about renewable-based heating systems such as ground or air source heat pumps, biomass heating, solar heating and thermal stores.
If you’re interested in installing renewable heating tech in your home, there is currently a Renewable Heat Incentive. Although set to end in 2022, it will be replaced by the Clean Heat Grant, a new Government scheme to help with home installation costs.

Green energy
Consider switching to a green energy supplier to power your home with renewables. The more that switch, the more energy companies will invest in renewables.
Choose energy-efficient appliances to use less energy and lower your bills. Fan ovens usually cook at slightly lower temperatures and microwave ovens cook faster than other types. Slow cookers tend to use less energy to heat your dinner than either stove top or oven, even though you leave them on for hours.
Smart meters can help keep an eye on energy use and show where you could use less. Amongst home appliances, tumble dryers are one of the biggest carbon culprits – the good news is, you can save lots of money by air drying! Modern, efficient washing machines do a great job at 30°c, so there is almost no need to use the 60°c wash which can use up to five times more energy.
Replacing light bulbs with LED or halogen uses less electric and last longer. Get into the habit of switching off and unplugging: turning off lights, appliances, and chargers when they’re not in use can save £80.00 a year from ‘standby’ consumption alone.

Greener living
Let’s get used to applying the four Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle:

  • Refuse single use plastic items such as straws and polystyrene containers.
  • Reduce consumption by fixing broken appliances and furniture at repair cafés.
  • Reuse bags when you shop, buy unpackaged food. Get a reusable cup and a flask. Give someone else the chance to reuse your unwanted item by donating on community forums and sites like Gumtree. Repurpose plastic pots for plants, paints or pencils. When you’re out of options, then
  • Recycle.

Internet
Is our online habit killing the planet? The internet is not the greener option we think it is, as much of its data storage energy requirements are still sourced from fossil fuels. It equals the aviation industry in size and needs vast numbers of buildings to house all the servers. Combined ICT services were projected to produce over 14% of global emissions by 2040, before the pandemic lockdown caused a 70% surge in use!
We need to be much more thoughtful about its use – it really does make a difference to delete old emails and empty the ‘trash’ folder, prune and cull old posts, be selective about which photos, videos, and books we save. Keep important items on a good old-fashioned memory stick and delete everything held on The Cloud. The Cloud is a lovely fluffy title for one of the planet’s biggest polluters.

Then relax, knowing you’re saving energy, money and the planet! For more information about Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth, we’re on Facebook: Sherwood Forest FoE or email sffofe@btinternet.com.
Pauline Meechan