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Zero Carbon Energy

The focus of ‘zero carbon energy’ is on reducing our reliance on energy from fossil fuels, because burning fossil fuels contributes to the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, resulting in global heating and climate change. The amount of fossil fuels we use through personal activity is known as our ‘carbon footprint;’ reducing this is an effective way to work towards zero carbon energy as an individual.

How to make a change

Insulate your home

  • This will allow you to cut down on heating costs and reduce reliance on central heating. However, it is important that we can keep warm and well at home at the same time.
  • Fit draught excluders around doors, windows and even the letterbox and key holes, and seal gaps around doors and windows. Keep doors and curtains closed in unused rooms, and have radiators set lower in these areas. Allow space for air circulation around radiators for them to work effectively. Reflectors can be fit behind radiators to maximise heat being reflected into the room – fitting shelves above radiators will have the same effect.
  • Loft and wall insulation will make the biggest difference, although can have high upfront costs. Most heat is lost via the roof of a house, so insulating any attic or loft spaces will reduce this.
  • Double glazing will also greatly insulate your home – you can reduce 50% of your heat loss through windows.

Switch to a ‘Green’ Energy provider

  • Or see if your current supplier offers any tariffs with higher ‘mixes’ of green energy.
  • Check out uSwitch or Money Saving Expert to see if you can save money by switching.

Install solar panels

Replace inefficient appliances

  • Only replace appliances when it is necessary to do so but consider whether your appliance works WELL – appliances which are not running properly may drain resources. Appliances over 10 or 15 years old may be both expensive to repair and environmentally damaging. Over time, replacing appliances with more efficient technology can help you save money, whilst also reducing carbon emissions. When shopping for new appliances, pick technology with the highest possible energy efficiency rating (A-rated being the highest) for your budget. Remember to dispose of appliances through the correct recycling routes.
  • A simple, low-cost switch would be to start with energy efficient light bulbs.

Use appliances efficiently

  • The easiest way to decrease your energy consumption is to turn off and/or unplug electronic devices, chargers and lights when you are not using them. Items left on standby can use up to 85% of the energy they would when switched on. Do not leave appliances on to charge overnight – most will be fully charged within an hour or two and leaving them plugged in can damage the battery. 
  • Washing clothes at 30 degrees reduces the energy needed and can prolong the life of your clothes. Showers can use less water and therefore less energy to heat than baths, but this depends on how long you shower for – try knocking a minute or two off your own shower time. When it is warm enough, dry clothes on an airer or outside as opposed to using the dryer. Only run appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine, when necessary, i.e., when you have a full load.

Request a free smart meter from your energy provider

  • Smart meters allow you to accurately track the energy that you are using, displayed in pounds and pence. Whilst this alone will not reduce your energy usage; it will help you gain a better understanding of how much you are using and allow you to identify areas of improvement.
  • Having a smart meter installed can help you avoid ‘estimated’ bills from your energy supplier, by automatically providing them with readings.

Example Actions

  • Install (x) draught proofing measures at home
  • Request a free smart meter and start measuring energy use
  • Switch to a green energy provider

Useful Links

Energy with Confidence by Phil Beardmore offers an advice service aiming to make your home or business greener.

Centre for Sustainable Energy have a number of advice and factsheets for individuals to identify sustainable energy strategies for the home.

Community Energy Birmingham are a Society for Community Benefit, with the primary aim of reducing carbon emissions in Birmingham. If you own land or buildings CEB will look at the opportunities for installing renewable energy technology.

EnviroCity Limited are a Birmingham based organisation specialising in the removal and recycling of electronic waste and can be contacted to arrange the collection of household appliances at the end of their life also. They aim to be a ‘zero landfill’ service.

Act on Energy are a West Midlands organisation providing free and impartial advice to householders in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and surrounding local areas. They have a full library of resources on energy saving measures, including solar panels and air source heat pumps.

LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) can provide help and advice with energy switching, free energy saving measures, money advice. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for financial help with home insulation, a new appliance or even a new boiler.

HEART is a charitable organisation which replaces old and inefficient kitchen appliances with newer more efficient ones for those in need.

Connected for Warmth is a scheme run by AgilityEco, Birmingham City Council installers and housing associations across the midlands, providing free support for those that need it. Connected for Warmth installs free central heating for those that need it, installing modern energy efficient systems.

Eco Flex is a government scheme which provides funding for energy efficiency improvement in the home, such as new central heating systems, upgrades to existing systems and insulation. More information is available on the Affordable Warmth Scheme website.

Emergency Central Heating Office (ECHO) offer emergency assistance to poor or vulnerable households (owner occupiers only) to repair or replace broken or condemned boilers.

Uswitch offer guidance on switching energy supplier, and lets you compare deals and suppliers.

Money Saving Expert has advice on all different household bills, including gas, electricity and water.

Download an Action Plan so you can set your own goals!

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