In 2018, fifteen percent of the UK’s carbon emissions were from the residential sector — that is, heating our homes and running all our equipment and gadgets. While the proportion that comes from renewable sources is increasing, 45.5% of UK electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels. The majority of UK homes are heated by directly burning a fossil fuel in our gas central heating.

Reducing the carbon impact of your home begins first with reducing your energy consumption and secondly, changing your source of energy to more renewable options.

One third of UK homes still do not have the minimum depth of loft insulation and nearly one third have uninsulated cavity walls. Improving the energy efficiency of your home has added benefits of increased comfort and reduced running costs.

With the continuing deregulation of the UK energy market there are more options for consumers to use ‘green’ tariffs to support the investment in renewable energy. For some home owners investing in their own renewable energy, generation — for example with solar panels — may be a possibility.

Local issues & actions

Make questions about energy efficiency part of your discussions with local tradespeople. How are they going to ensure that your home improvements meet or exceed government guidelines for energy saving? Look for building professionals who are members of The Green Register
Find out more about local energy generation from Buckinghamshire Community Energy and Marlow Energy Group.

What you can do

1. Increase the pressure for renewable generation by switching to a renewable energy supplier or a renewable energy tariff. See Big Clean Switch and MoneySavingExpert.

2. When replacing household electrical goods, make energy efficiency a priority. While the initial cost for A*** rated goods will often be higher, you will have lower running costs as well as carbon reduction.

3. Simple home improvements that make a difference include: draught-proofing; changing light bulbs to LED; ensuring that you have 30 cm of loft insulation.

4. As some efficiency improvements can be disruptive, the ideal time to make them is when you are considering other home improvements. The SuperHomes scheme is currently being revamped but has lots of inspiration from householders all over the country who have refurbished their homes to make them more energy efficient.

5. Find out more about a community approach to renewable energy — and perhaps invest. See Community Energy England and the Low Carbon Hub.