Everything, from dishwashers, to washing machines, to kettles, to cookers, to toilets, uses energy. Everything in our daily lives requires energy, which in turn contributes to climate change. Most of our energy globally is sourced from fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. First a quick explanation of greenhouse gases. They are gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane that get trapped in the ozone layer, absorb the sun’s radiation and heat energy, and send it back to the Earth’s surface – in a similar way to a greenhouse.
Since we are globally stuck with fossil fuels until scientists can discover better and more efficient ways of utilising and conserving renewable energy, we must take the responsibility to use our energy efficiently. This means using less energy to meet our daily needs. Furthermore, using energy efficiently saves your household money. Since gas prices are increasing globally, being energy efficient has double benefits. Firstly, you can help reduce your personal emissions and thus help towards the target of reducing global heating. And secondly, you can save yourself money!
How can we accomplish that? Significantly, it is far easier to be energy efficient when you have disposable income – generally, energy efficient appliances are more expensive. Therefore, suggesting buying a grade A energy efficient kettle is all well and good, but if you don’t have a spare £50, that isn’t really an option. Same goes for house insulation – the best method of energy conservation. It costs roughly £300 to get your roof properly insulated, this saves you approximately £750 a year on heating costs, according to Ovo Energy.
So what can we do? If you are financially endowed, these options are here for you, and it is imperative to take them, both for your own finances and for the environment. Crucially, those who can afford it must take the action to ensure maximum energy efficiency in their households. In the Global North, we are responsible for the largest output of carbon emissions per capita. Households comprise a large percentage of such emissions. Whilst we may feel helpless in facilitating the shift to renewables as the wide majority of us are not scientists, we have absolute control over our own emissions. Maintaining, regulating and keeping an eye over your household’s energy consumption is a guaranteed way to reduce your household’s personal emissions.
However, for the moment with the global cost of living crisis, most won’t have the disposable income for the initial investment required for most energy efficient appliances nor house insulation. Until we have a government that properly confronts the current energy crisis, which partly stems from an overreliance on exported fossil fuels, and thus prioritises and invests in green energy, much state-led energy efficiency plans will never be enough. For example, at the very least, we currently need guaranteed reductions on energy bills, and some sort of subsidised plan to insulate all homes, particularly of those with low-income. Prioritising who you vote for on the basis of their environmental policy is something I have committed myself to for any upcoming elections. That is my personal opinion, but I believe that if this is an issue that genuinely scares you as it does me, it is one of the best things we can do as individuals in a democratic system.
Politics aside, there are still ways you can save money and be energy efficient. Everyone can do these tips, regardless of household income. Most will likely know a lot of these tips already, but here they are listed again for your ease.
- Every parent has told their child this since the invention of the light bulb (a slight exaggeration maybe) – turn off the lights when you aren’t using them! When you leave a room, even if you are going to return, those few seconds make a difference.
- Ensuring the central heating is on a timer, and keeping it a few degrees lower than you would usually. According to the Energy Saving Trust, turning it down by one degree can save you up to 10% on the bill. Equally, the NHS says that having the heating on 18 degrees is healthy for most people.
- Ensuring that the radiators are turned off in the rooms that are not being used – or alternatively, if you live somewhere a little warmer than the UK, ensuring that air conditioning is off in every room.
- Insulating your house’s boiler is also a sustainable (both financially and environmentally) investment. A decent boiler insulating jacket costs £20 and will provide you return on investment in a matter of months.
- Cutting down the number of baths you take saves money (and energy) on heating the water. If, like myself, you are addicted to being too hot and submerged in water, this would really cut down on the energy bills (although I still will treat myself very occasionally, let’s be realistic).
- Kettles are massively inefficient, particularly if you fill it to the top with water, rather than just using what is necessary.
- Draught stoppers (or as I thought they were called for years, ‘door sausages’) are also great for draughty houses with lots of space between the door and the floor. This prevents heat leaving the room, thus ensuring maximum value for money on heating.
Ultimately, choosing energy efficiency as your avatar for Get2Cop, and pledging to do all you can to reduce your personal emissions, will demonstrate to our UN representatives that nations worldwide need to do more to help their citizens maximise their energy efficiency.