Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicates that our homes are responsible for about 15% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The main source of emissions is the use of natural gas for heating and cooking, but a significant contribution comes from appliance use and lighting.
There are two main ways to reduce the contribution your home makes to greenhouse gas emissions:
Use less energy, through energy savings or efficiency actions
Change the source of your energy to a renewable one
Making such changes at home can also bring benefits from a cost saving perspective.
If you live in a listed building, this may affect which options you have with respect to energy saving measures. You can access free to download publications, containing guidance on improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings, via the Historic England website.
Action Surrey offer free impartial energy advice across Surrey. Visit their site for information on:
- How to reduce costs and your carbon footprint
- Financial support available to help residents within Surrey access grants for energy efficiency improvements or to help with fuel costs
- The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - if installing a renewable heat technology, you could be eligible to receive payments through this UK government scheme
Switching to clean electricity
‘Clean electricity’ is generated from renewable sources – sun, wind, water (rivers, tides or wave power) and biofuels (such as gas released by rotting food waste).
Unlike electricity generated by burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), clean energy has little impact in terms of climate change and air pollution.
For information on how to switch to a clean energy supplier, visit the Action Surrey page of the Big Clean Switch website.
Changes in your garden
If you have a garden, there is great environmental benefit in planting trees, or at least keeping those that are already present.
Unfortunately many home owners take the decision to remove trees, which can pose a risk to their property.
When a tree is removed from the soil, water is no longer being absorbed by the tree roots. Subsequent swelling of the soil can lead to the displacement of foundations.
For planting, it is best to opt for native trees, which can bring a number of benefits:
- Carbon capture - it is estimated that on average, a broad leaf tree will absorb 1 tonne of CO2 during its life-time
- Habitats for wildlife - native trees provide food, protection and shelter for many species of wildlife
- Protection from flooding- trees absorb water, protect soil from erosion and reduce surface run off
- Low maintenance- native trees have adapted to our weather conditions so require little maintenance once established
The Woodland Trust website is a great source of information on things to consider before planting a tree in your garden, such as which type is most appropriate given the space you have available.
Adding a native hedge to your garden is another great way to make it more environmentally friendly.
- Like trees, hedges capture carbon from the environment
- Hedges provide your garden with shelter and privacy
- Hedges provide an excellent habitat for a wide variety of wildlife
The RSPB website is a good source of information on how to plant and maintain hedges and what plants to grow along the hedge-bottom.
Make the most of your front garden. If you are lucky enough to have one, opt for a plant filled garden, rather than gravel or paving, to provide further habitats for wildlife, including species that have declined, in part due to changes in how garden areas are now used. A movement away from paved gardens will also decrease the risk of flash flooding; a growing problem in towns and cities.
There are a number of reasons why the use of pesticides for gardening should be avoided. For a healthy garden which encourages the biodiversity which will help it flourish, opt for an organic approach:
- Pesticide Action Network UK have produced a guide for dealing with common garden pests
- The RHS website also provides information on how to control pests and diseases without the use of chemicals
- There is growing evidence regarding the harm caused to the environment by the insecticides used as flea treatments for pets. Try out some natural eco-friendly solutions instead.
We also encourage the use of peat-free compost, as the production of peat-based compost contributes to habitat destruction and climate breakdown.
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly option - useful information on this can found on the Surrey Environment Partnership website.
We'd love you to get involved in our Mole Valley Rewilds campaign, so that we can share the fruits of your work in the garden!
If you do not have a garden, or if you simply want to do more to protect and enhance local wildlife, you could try some volunteering with a local wildlife trust or environmental group.
- Have a look at the volunteering ideas on the Surrey County Council website
- The DO-IT website can be used to find a wide range of volunteering opportunities