How can I make my home Carbon Neutral? - 07/01/2020
Our homes account for 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. There have been significant improvements in building standards and insulation, plus more energy efficiency boilers and other household products. These have helped towards reducing the level of carbon emissions from UK homes.
However, in February 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) - the UK’s independent climate advisory body - published it’s ‘Fit for the Future’ report. This was an assessment on the level of greenhouse gas emissions from UK homes and how existing homes can be improved to help meet the challenges of climate change. It reported how the downward trend in carbon emissions had stalled and the amount of energy being used in homes had started to increase.
Then, in June last year, the UK Government passed legislation revising its Climate Change targets by committing the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, as recommended by the CCC.
The demand for energy in our homes needs to drop significantly, however this on its own won’t be enough to meet carbon reduction targets. The way we heat our homes also needs to change to forms that produce far lower carbon emissions.
Can our homes become “Net Zero”? Is this the same as “Carbon Neutral”?
In this post we’ll explain what this means for your home and how you can make it ‘fit for the future’.
What is Carbon Neutral and why does it matter?
Carbon Neutral and Net Zero are two terms for the same goal - that any emissions can be balanced by schemes to ‘offset’ an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage. This goal is made more achievable if you can significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
By achieving this target, you effectively end your contribution to global emissions.
You can find out much more about how this is measured on the Office for National Statistics website.
How can I make my home Carbon Neutral?
The Energy Saving Trust has estimated that UK households need to reduce their emissions from heating use by 95% in order to reach the UK’s Net Zero 2050 target. This means a radical change in how we heat our homes, not just by turning the thermostat down a degree or having shorter showers (though these do help!).
We need to reduce the amount of energy we use to keep our homes warm AND adopt heating technology that does not use natural gas or oil, including renewable energy sources such as heat pumps or solar. Some new technologies are still being developed and trialed, such as converting the gas network (from generation and pipes through to boilers and hobs) to run using biogas or hydrogen. More and more homes are being connected to District Heating systems – these connect multiple homes was a single source of heat through a network of highly insulated pipes.
Then, of course, we need the skilled workforce who can advise on and install this new technology.
So, do I just need to wait, or is there action I can take now to make my home Carbon Neutral?
Yes – you can start taking action now to improve your home.
Get Good Advice. While we may be familiar with improvements such as loft insulation or triple glazing, some of the new technology is likely to be unfamiliar to you. You need to understand what is most suitable for you home today and tomorrow. For example, how much energy do you use today? Are you planning to grow your family? Are you children finally moving out? Are you thinking about converting that loft into a bedroom – how will you keep this extra space warm?
Make A Plan. Unless you are planning a big home renovation project, you probably aren’t going to do everything all at once. So, it is important to think about what you do, when you do it and what the costs and benefits of each element. For example, if you are fitting a new kitchen, is it worth insulating the floor or walls while this work is being done? Will that boiler need to be changed soon – do you need to fit it into the design, or can you plan for when it is replaced in 5 years? All this will save time, disruption and money in the future if planned now.