How to fight climate change from home

Climate change is a big problem. And, judging by the findings of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it’s a bigger and even more pressing problem than we ever imagined.

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What’s the deal with climate change?

The world is warming up and playing havoc with Earth’s delicate eco-system. And so ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and we’re witnessing a growing number of natural disasters across the globe, from damaging storms to deadly floods and devastating droughts.

As if that wasn’t enough, a report from the IPCC is claiming the climate change targets agreed as part of the Paris Accord don 't go far enough, and we’ve even less time to turn things around than previously thought.

What is the Paris Accord?

The Paris Accord, also known as the Paris Agreement, or Accord de Paris, to give it its French moniker, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to deal with all aspects of climate change, including greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

The agreement, which presents an action plan to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C, was reached on December 12, 2015, and is in place to cover the period from 2020 onwards.

But while nations across the globe are currently working to cap global warming at no more than 2°C, and ideally hold temperature rises to 1.5°C, the reality is we’re not acting quickly enough and are currently on track to limit global warming to about 3°C.

And a 3°C would be and absolute disaster, as this video shows.

The IPCC report, entitled simply Global Warming of 1.5°C, gives a stark warning of what we need to do and when we need to do it – in short, we need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.

This means we’ve only 12 years to make the necessary adjustments to give ourselves a chance of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, at which point we’ll also need to rely on negative emission technology to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Another key finding of the report is that that every bit of warming matters, so every fraction of a degree we can knock off the global thermostat benefit us all – that’s why we all have to take the fight home with us.

How to fight global warming from home

We all use a lot of energy between us – across the EU, buildings consume 40% of overall energy and are responsible for 36% of total CO2 emissions. In the UK, emissions from households’ fossil fuel and electricity use are forecast to rise by 11% by 2035, compared to 2015 levels.

So we all need to be more energy efficient to help do our bit for the planet – here are a few simple steps you can take to save energy and save money.

  • Upgrade your insulation – Poorly insulated homes lose heat through walls, roofs, windows, and even floors, and improving insulation can not only help cut your energy bills, it’ll help make your home feel a lot more cosy, and help you do your bit for the environment. Although an initial outlay will be needed to install better insulation, figures from the Committee on Climate Change estimate that fitting double glazing could save you up to £90 a year, cavity wall insulation £115 a year, and loft insulation £100 a year. If your home doesn't have cavity walls, here's how solid wall insulation could help.
  • Turn the thermostat down – Do you crank the thermostat right up, hoping that it’ll heat things up a little quicker? Or insist on having nothing less than a tropical climate in your living room? If so, you’re needlessly using too much energy. Try to set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is usually between 18°C and 21°C – if you’re still not warm enough, try putting on some extra layers to keep cosy. And bear in mind that knocking the heating down by just one degree will not only save energy, but could also knock as much as £50 off your annual energy bills.
  • Fit energy efficient bulbs – Replace any standard light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, such as LEDs. Simply fitting energy efficient bulbs could save you up to £50 a year in energy and replacement costs.
  • Replace your old boiler and appliances – If your boiler is more than 15 years old, it’s time to upgrade to a new one. Replacement of old boilers with energy efficient alternatives could cut your energy bill by up to £115. And replacing old fridges, washing machines and other appliances with more energy efficient models could see you make even more savings.
  • Switch to a green energy tariff - Switching energy supplier could knock as much as £482* off your annual energy bills. And swithcing to a renewable energy supplier will help save then environment while you save money.

For more useful energy saving tips, check out our Energy Saving Advice guide.

And for more information on boiler replacement, home insulation, or solar panel installation – a way to both save energy and make money – check out our energy efficiency pages.

Although the fight against global warming starts at home, it certainly doesn’t end there.

If you’re a car owner, try to cut your weekly journeys by car sharing, switching to public transport, walking or cycling, or even working remotely, if possible – this will cut help cut your travel costs, reduce road congestion, and cut emissions.

And, if you’re in the market for a new motor, consider a more energy efficient vehicle, preferably a fully electric or hybrid model.

There are also a number of ways you can take on climate change in the workplace, outlined in the short video below.

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Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.