How can I help achieve Net Zero?
We have all seen on the news and heard on the radio about the COP26 Summit held in Glasgow recently. A lot of really positive language was used around the Summit, with some encouraging promises made for the protection of our planet.
They all seem rather large scale, don’t they? But how can we as individuals do our part?
A lot of people I have spoken to have said yes, they do their recycling, yes, they turn the lights off in the rooms they are not using etc etc, but what else can we as homeowners do to aid the reduction of our carbon footprints?
There is some wonderful literature out there, I for one have been reading the book ‘Is it really green?’ by Georgina Wilson-Powell, which provides a plethora of hints and tips on living more sustainably. My favourite tip that I have come across so far, is to clean out yoghurt pots before putting them in the recycling. I found out that if you put an empty but not rinsed out yoghurt pot out for the bin min, it can ‘contaminate’ the whole batch it sits in, as it still contains food traces and harbours bacteria. Such a little thing for a big waste, right?! So from now on, this is what I do.
I shan’t publish the entire book in this blog for you – for starters, I’m sure there would be a copyright issue! Therefore, I have scoured the internet instead for some advice on how to create a Net Zero home to help our beautiful planet Earth.
What is a carbon footprint?
First of all, let’s understand what a carbon footprint is. It’s a way to measure greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) that get released into the atmosphere by someone or something.
Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat (which is why get their name from greenhouses; full of windows and lets in sunlight, which makes the greenhouse warm and doesn’t let the warmth escape). This is how greenhouse gases act, by letting sunlight pass through the atmosphere and preventing the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. Overall, greenhouse gases are a good thing. Without them, our planet would be too cold, and life as we know it would not exist. But there can be too much of a good thing. Too much of these gases are being added to the atmosphere and steps need to be made to cut this production right down.
You can check your personal carbon footprint using this interesting tool created by WWF – https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/
The Net Zero Home
Net-zero is the balance between the power a home needs and the renewable energy you can generate to match the need. With new heating technology and lower-cost renewable energy systems, any home can get to net zero.
- Renewable energy
Solar roof-mounted panels are the most affordable way to generate your own energy and can deliver electricity at 60 to 70% of the cost of electricity you buy from the grid.
- Water management system
These systems reduce the use of hot water. There are different systems available, such as low flow water fixtures, stacked plumbing, drain water heat recovery, and on-demand hot water recirculation.
- Seal the draughts away
Simple yet effective – where there is a draught – seal it up! Draught excluders, thick curtains, caulking in and around gaps and keeping windows and doors closed are all effective ways of keeping the cold out and the warm in – not need to turn the heating up!
- Smart Devices
There are so many out there to choose from. These nifty little gadgets can establish limits to your energy usage and reduces energy waste.
With better insulation, a smaller heating system will do the job, and it will do it more efficiently. You’ll spend less money heating throughout the colder months.
- Energy star appliances
When looking for new appliances for the home, always check the efficiency and durability for all of them.
- Windows and doors
Replace old, draughty windows and doors with a high-performance, triple-pane brand that will reduce heat loss, provide better day lighting, and reduces any condensation.
Substitute old bulbs with LEDs, room by room or smart bulbs for low energy and high-quality lighting.
- Heat pump
One that has been in the news recently. Okay, they are not a cheap initial outlay but will provide efficient electric heating. You can also get a heat pump water heater for efficient electric water heating.
- Home energy monitor
Again, available from many different places, these can simply and effectively optimise the energy you use throughout the home.
The benefits of a net-zero home
- You will improve your home’s performance, comfort, air quality, which will increase its value
- You will stabilise your costs. The energy you create will lower your utility bills and you can even sell back any excess energy your home does not use.
- You will shrink your carbon footprint
We understand some of these changes don’t happen overnight. But as a collective, if we ALL took one of these steps in reducing our carbon footprints, the planet will be able to thank us in return for many, many years to come.