The Green Impact blog is being handed over to the Urban Studies and Planning team this week! This post is by Kathryn Tyne, the team’s Green Impact Project Assistant. If you or your team would like to contribute to the blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the cold weather comes and temperatures drop, having to turn the heating on in your homes can be a massive burden on your fuel bills. However, do you also know how much of an impact it is having on the environment… the answer is probably more than you expected.
In 2010, domestic buildings accounted for 28% of the total UK energy use, and within this 61% of energy is for space and water heating (Jones et al, 2013). What small measures can we therefore take in our homes to reduce the emissions and money we pay from heating?
1. Closing the curtains…doesn’t seem like a big deal does it? But a study by the University of Salford has shown that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of curtains. Just by drawing the curtains at dusk, can reduce heat loss from the average house in the UK by 15-17%, therefore reducing demand for heating. (Straus, 2014). So why not try it? Try closing your curtains earlier into the night, and shutting blinds or curtains before you leave the office! To reduce heat loss even more you could line your existing curtains with an insulating material, this is thought to reduce heat loss from windows by as much as 25%! (Wilson, N.D.)
2. Turning down your thermostat. Over time, the social norms in homes have changed, and as heating in homes becomes more popular the average indoor temperature in the UK has risen from 12 degrees in 1970, to 22 degrees current day (Lane, 2011). But with the increased warmth has come the increased resistance to wear a jumper indoors.
Think about it though, what temperature would you leave the house without a jumper? After asking around most people said when its 15 degrees outside they would probably not take a jacket, so why is the average UK household heated to 22 degrees?
So how much of an impact would it be if every household in the UK reduced their household temperatures to say 16 degrees? It would lead to a 7% reduction in total carbon emissions. What about the impact on your heating bills? According to the Energy Saving Trust, reducing your thermostat by 1 degree can actually reduce your bill by 10%, and that’s with a minimal behavioural change, so imagine how this could drop again if say you started wearing a jumper indoors too!
Although no official number can be given to what is a comfortable heat, the World Health Organisation suggest that 18 degrees is suitable for a majority (Lane, 2011).
3. Do we really need every room in the house to be the same temperature? Or in fact to heat every room? The increased use of central heating in homes, has led to using it in rooms we never used to. Have a think about what rooms in your house you need heating the most?
-Do your corridors? How much time do you actually spend in the corridors?
-Does the kitchen? When the oven or hob is in use, do you need the radiator on too?
Adjusting the settings on individual radiators, turning them on when they’re needed instead of on all the time, or not turning them on at all, would help significantly reduce emissions.
So why don’t you give it a go? Help save the environment and save yourself money by trying out those three simple steps!
Jones.P, Lannon.S and Patterson.J (2013). Retrofitting Existing Housing: How Far, How Much? Building Research and Information, 41(5): 532-550.
Lane.M (2011) How warm is your home? Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12606943. Last Accessed 06/01/17
Straus. R.R (2014). How much energy does closing the curtains really save and does your home lose more heat when it’s raining? We visit the house where scientists put it to the test.Available at: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2644012/Energy-House-scientists-make-rain-snow-test-energy-efficiency.html#ixzz4UoQmdIXw. Last Accessed 05/01/17
Wilson. L (N.D.). The beginners guide to lower heating bills: for tenants, owners and homelovers. Available at:http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/the-beginners-guide-to-lower-heating-bills. Last Accessed 06/01/17