Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Carbon Conversations Meeting 2 - Hunting Energy Use In The Home

Report on Carbon Conversations by Eleanor. 
On 27th May we looked at our carbon footprints and then at home energy. I'll try to explain without jargon while recognising that learning new 'carbon literacy' skills is useful.

Carbon Footprint:
Our carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of emissions in tonnes of C02 equivalent (called C02e for short) that we use to live our lives. The average personal footprint in the UK is twelve tonnes of C02e.

So ... where would you 'hunt for carbon' if you want to reduce your own footprint?
Our individual carbon footprints are made up of 5 main areas:
As a group everyone was well below the national average, but we are all still keen to do better. The next conversations will give us the tools to take practical steps to reduce our carbon footprints overall.

C02 in our homes
Just to get everyone thinking we started with an exercise to determine what home comforts mattered to the group. The conclusion we came to was that once we have basic shelter, it’s all personal. Everyone has different priorities and will approach this opportunity from a different perspective.

Turning to home energy, there are two routes to a low carbon home
1. Use less energy (gas and electricity)
2. Switch to an energy provider who puts renewable energy into the national grid.

The Low Carbon Home game was a bit of fun to see if we could reduce the carbon footprint of a family house by 6 tonnes over 6 years. Some actions are free and easy to do like monitoring energy use and turning down the thermostat. Others require some time and a small investment like changing the light bulbs and some like fitting double glazing or a new boiler require building work to be carried out.

A real life example
The best bit was that all the points raised were backed up with a real life example. The venue for the session was in a property that had been modified to be as sustainable as possible. Susan had done exactly what the game set out to show, but in her own home.
The house (see this link to Susan's project) is an inspiration and it was great to see that it was achievable. The main thing was how comfortable it was, no drafts, good lighting, and still low energy. Low energy living doesn’t have to mean going without, in fact quite the opposite with the house being cosy and warm over winter. Reducing the heat losses of the house through insulation really made a difference to living in it.
So where does heat loss occur....?
Worth bearing in mind if you are making any improvements to your home; it’s not all about double glazing.
Susan’s main recommendations are:
1.   Start reading meters and measuring, so you know if you are really reducing energy use
2.   Explore the options, really get to know your house or flat
3.   Plan to take steps over 2-5 years, and think about the sequencing so each step is valuable



I can’t wait to get started on implementing some of the measures discussed here today. The next meeting on June 9th will focus on consumption and purchasing 'stuff', and the impact our decisions on what to buy can have.

Thanks from all the group to Eleanor for this report. 
Please email transitiontowntooting@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to inquire about our next series of Carbon Conversations. Other TTT blog posts on Carbon Conversations can be found here.   The Energy Saving Trust - website here - is a practical resource for practical energy reduction tips.

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