I was brought up to turn the lights off when I left a room, to save both money and energy. I remember the three day week of the 1970s and the power cuts when energy was rationed. That early training may help me now as I start the work of making my home more energy efficient.
I knew when I bought my home three years ago that I would need to do this eventually as it came with an energy performance certificate rating of E, which is pretty bad. Then recently, I checked out some of the carbon footprint calculators you can find online. This was partly for my own interest and partly because my parish council has declared a climate emergency, and as a councillor, I thought I should look at my own carbon emissions. Well, that didn’t go well!
I don’t fly much and aim to keep it that way, so I score points there, and although I drive an old diesel car, I don’t drive it very far. (The electric bike we bought this year is doing increasing mileage!) The main problem is household consumption of electricity and heating oil, which accounts for nearly 40% of my total footprint. It makes my energy bills high too.
The first step in trying to reduce that is to find out which household appliances are the greediest in energy terms. I have borrowed a couple of meters to help with this and am gradually working through the house. Most of my appliances are quite old, so it may be worth replacing some. Even though a new fridge freezer, for example, comes with embedded emissions from the manufacturing process, it’s greater energy efficiency (and lower running costs) may make it a worthwhile purchase.
Next is an assessment of where the house leaks heat, which will hopefully help me decide what I can do to improve this. More or better insulation may be called for, or perhaps I can start thinking about whether to install a heat pump and retire my oil-fired boiler. I might be able to apply for the government’s Green Homes Grant to help with costs, or the Renewable Heat Incentive.
It’s a steep learning curve and I will need help along the way to make sensible decisions. It has opened my eyes, though, to the importance of economising on energy wherever possible. It might help my bank balance too. A win win in fact!