Cutting Carbon Emissions looks at both the emissions we produce at home and also our travel emissions. It is about making our homes more energy efficient, delivering all energy with renewable technologies, encouraging low carbon modes of transport, and reducing the need to travel.
There are lots of things that you, as an individual or household can do to cut your carbon emissions (and save money on your energy bills and travel costs). From switching off, to turning down, to getting on your bike, there are lots of easy ways you can get involved. Here you will find some handy information to get you started as well as a few Sutton projects to inspire you.
Our top tips
Running your home
- Use less energy. Think about all the things that use energy in your home and consider how you use them. Do you always switch things off when you are not using them? Is everything left at the correct setting? Are you using the most efficient technologies? The average house could save up to £80 per year on their electricity bill just by switching things off from standby. Energy monitors and Smart Meters can help you work out where you are using (and maybe wasting) energy but for more information on saving, have a look at the Energy Saving Trust.
- Insulation. Much like a warm blanket helps to keep us warm in the winter, insulation helps to keep your home warm. The recommended depth for loft insulation is 27 cm (about the length of a piece of A4), and walls should also have either cavity wall or solid wall insulation to retain the heat. Houses can also lose lots of heat through draughts so check your home for unwanted draughts and block them up. Find out more about what you can do here.
- Check you have an efficient boiler. In a gas heated home, boilers account for around 55% of the cost of your energy bills. Fitting a high efficiency condensing boiler can make a huge difference to your heating bills. You can find out how efficient your boiler is here. It will be rated from A-G. Replacing a G rated boiler with an A rated boiler could save a family living in a semi-detached house £305 per year. For further advice, click here.
- Switch to a green energy supplier. This way, you can be assured that your energy needs are being met by new renewables in the UK. There are now quite a few suppliers of green energy and you can compare them using the Green Energy Marketplace.
- Walk, cycle, bus, train. Having a car can be very convenient and it is easy to get into the habit of jumping in the car to pop to the local shops or get to work but it is cheaper, better for you and better for the environment to avoid these unnecessary car journeys and walk or cycle if it isn’t too far, and use public transport for those longer journeys.
- Sign up with a car club. If you need to use a car every now and then but don’t want to deal with the bother of running a car – getting it insured, filling up with petrol and paying costly repair bills – why not sign up with a car club? For a yearly subscription fee you have access to a shared car on a pay as you go basis so if you need to do a big shop, pick someone up from the station or take a trip by car you can, just without the big bills of owning a car. Carplus is a great website to find out more about car clubs including where your closest car is.
- Have a no-fly holiday. Going on holiday is a lovely treat. It can also be a major part of our carbon footprint. A return flight to New York results in about 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, in the UK the average carbon footprint is 10 tonnes for an entire year. Instead of flying, why not have a ‘staycation’ and holiday in the UK or have a European holiday and travel by rail or boat. The Man in Seat 61 is a great website for people who want to holiday abroad, without the flying.
Case study projects
The Hackbridge Low Carbon Zone. Through this project funded by the GLA, One Planet Sutton helped to reduce the CO2 emissions from 650 homes and 6 community buildings by more than 20% – beating our target. We managed this by delivering a range of home improvements from energy audits, energy saving measures, free insulation, and upgraded appliances and boilers. The community buildings also benefitted from cavity wall insulation, motion sensor lights and solar panels.
Moh’s solar powered coffee van.As part of the Heart of Hackbridge project we helped various local businesses reduce their emissions through energy efficiency improvements. Perhaps the most exciting changes were the new solar panels attached to Moh’s coffee van. They mean he is now able to make coffee off-grid without a generator but the benefits are not just carbon savings. “The solar panels gave my business a lot of freedom – I can go anywhere with the sun to power the coffee machine. The panels have also attracted lots of new customers as they are a great talking point.” Moh Imran, owner of Moh Coffee.
Smarter Travel Sutton. This award winning three year project carried out by TfL and Sutton Council wanted to promote the use of sustainable transport as Sutton has some of the highest levels of car ownership in London. By helping large employees and schools carry out travel planning to help people get to work and school more sustainably, providing information and advice to residents on options in Sutton, running reward schemes, cycle training and other engagement events the project helped reduce reliance on the car by 6%! Cycle traffic increased by 75% and bus usage grew by 16%.
EcoLocal Cycling. To help make cycling more accessible and enjoyable, EcoLocal run regular sessions where people can practice cycling in a safe, off road environment and people with disabilities can try adapted bicycles. These sessions are great to help people build confidence, get fit and learn the basics of safe cycling. For more information go to: ecolocalcycling.org.uk.
The Energy Savings Trust is an independent, UK-based organisation focused on promoting action that leads to the reduction of carbon emissions. Their website offers in depth information about what you can do, checklists, guidance on efficiency and renewables and also funding pots available to help households make improvements.
Parity Projects are retrofit experts based in Sutton. They help identify the best energy saving options for your home and budget, provide the information you need to get the work done and can even manage the building work for you.
The Carbon Account is a great online tool to help you measure your energy consumption – so you can really see if that extra insulation is making a difference.
Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity. There is lots of information on their website about how you can change the way you travel whether it is help getting cycling, ditching the car during the school run or getting the rest of your community on board for greener travel.