How to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at home
For millions of years, our planet was able to naturally regulate its own gas production, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), until the Industrial Revolution began around 1760. During this time, products began to be mass-produced and manufacturing techniques improved drastically. All of this activity resulted in an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Now, the cars we drive, the buildings we heat and the electricity we use all contribute to a worldwide increase in CO2.
Below, you can find out why CO2 is bad for our planet and what you could do to reduce your carbon footprint.
How is carbon dioxide bad for the environment?
We’ve all heard that too much CO2 is bad for our atmosphere and the planet, but actually how bad is it?
CO2 is a naturally occuring gas that humans and animals create through breathing out. It’s also known as one of the greenhouse gases. This gas forms around the Earth to create a sort of barrier, or atmosphere. The heat that comes from the sun is able to pass through this barrier and hits the surface of the Earth, warming our planet. Some of this heat is radiated back up to the atmosphere. However, if our planet’s CO2 levels are too high, the heat cannot penetrate through the barrier and it therefore returns to the Earth’s surface. This is also known as the Greenhouse Effect.
One of the main concerns regarding levels of CO2 is the increased temperatures that are being recorded and the devastating effects this is causing, for example increasing the risk of major fires such as those seen in the Amazon and in Australia during 2020. Elevated temperatures are also melting the ice caps, which is causing sea levels to rise and having a negative effect on the surrounding wildlife.
How much CO2 is produced by humans?
In 2018, it was recorded that CO2 levels created from fossil fuels and industry were at 36.2 gigatonnes. One gigatonne is the equivalent of one billion metric tonnes, and one metric tonne equals 1,000 kilograms (kg). This means that one gigatonne is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 kgs. To put this into perspective even further, one gigatonne equals more than the weight of one hundred million African elephants.
To find out more about carbon emissions and how much we create, you can view our infographic about the carbon footprint of (nearly) everything.
How to reduce CO2 emissions in your home
Now that we’ve highlighted how detrimental CO2 can be to our planet and how much of it we’re producing, you probably want to find out how you can reduce the amount you create at home. You can find some ideas below.
1. Improve your home’s insulation
Your boiler burns gas to heat the water that is supplied to your taps and radiators, but if your insulation isn’t up to scratch, this heat could be exiting the house too quickly. When this heat is lost, your boiler will work harder to replace it, wasting yet more energy and potentially leading to high energy bills.
You should consider replacing or improving the insulation in your home to reduce the amount of heat that it loses. This also includes sealing doors and windows properly to reduce cold draughts
2. Switch to a heat pump
If you want to try and reduce the amount of gas that you use at home, you could consider switching to a ground or air source heat pump. These systems don’t use any gas. Instead, they use natural heat that can be found in the environment and electricity from the grid to provide you with a warm home. If the electricity is generated from renewable sources, your carbon emissions are zero..
3. Generate electricity on site
Adding solar panels that produce electricity using the sun’s light could be extremely beneficial. The majority of mains electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, which emits CO2 into the atmosphere. Solar panels could provide renewable electricity for your home and help provide some of the energy for your heat pump helping you make your home produce less carbon dioxide.
4. Hang your clothes out to dry
Not all of the changes you can make are major ones. Little tasks, such as hanging your clothes out to dry instead of using the tumble dryer, could decrease your carbon footprint. It’s also a good idea to wash your clothes at 30 ℃ rather than at higher temperatures.
5. Switch to LED bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs have traditionally been the most popular option for lighting homes, however LED light bulbs are definitely the more energy-efficient option. They operate at around 90 per cent efficiency, compared to their incandescent counterpart, which loses most of its energy through heat and is only 20 per cent efficient. LED bulbs also have a much longer lifespan, making them more cost-effective too.
6. Get a smart meter
All energy suppliers need to offer you a smart meter free of charge as part of the government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. A smart meter tells you exactly how much energy you’re using in real time and might make you think twice about leaving lights or taking an extra long shower.
Lots of people will unplug their phone from the charger, leaving the plug in the socket. Does this sound familiar? This plug is still drawing electricity, despite not charging your phone. It’s important to turn your plug sockets off at the wall when they aren’t in use. This is also applicable to devices on that us electricity on standby like televisions and gaming devices.