So many of your everyday activities can contribute towards your carbon footprint, from the food you buy in your local supermarket to the route you take getting to work. If you have a family to take care of, this footprint can increase markedly as your home energy bills increase along with all your consumables.
There are, however, a number of ways that you can lower the carbon footprint of your family, without cutting back on the experiences that you all love. Here are just a few ways you can help contribute to a greener future.
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Make your home more efficient
One of the first steps on the road to a lower carbon footprint is making your home more energy efficient. There are a number of ways that you can do this, with many of them focusing on reducing wasted heat. Make sure your home has cavity wall and loft insulation, for example, as well as double-glazing in order to prevent excess warmth from leaving your property.
Making sure your boiler is regularly maintained, or even replaced by a newer model, can also help improve your energy efficiency. Over time, dirt can build up in your boiler which means it has to work harder to produce the same level of heat.
Alternatively, there are now a wide range of energy efficient products that you can purchase for your home, ranging from lightbulbs to kettles. Although these changes will require upfront investment, they will quickly pay for themselves by lowering your energy bill in the long-term.
Go renewable where you can
As well as lowering your energy usage, consider whether you could adopt greener energy sources for your home. Residential solar panels are now available that convert sunlight into electrical energy, which means you can save on bills while also helping the environment.
Before you decide to invest in solar panels, however, it’s important to understand how the size and type of property you live in affects your installation. A trusted supplier should provide this kind of analysis before they give you a quote on the cost of switching to solar power from traditional sources. Understanding your financing options is also important if you are to know exactly how much the switch will save you on your household bills.
Although solar is the most common there are other renewable options, particularly if you live in rural areas. Hydro or wind power could potentially provide off-grid alternatives depending on your specific circumstances.
If it’s not being used, switch it off
Getting your entire family to adopt energy-saving habits is one of the most effective ways of lowering your carbon footprint, and all it requires is a little extra consideration. One of the main causes of unnecessary energy usage is leaving on lights and appliances when they are not being used. Make an extra effort to switch everything off when you leave a room and you could see you energy usage (and bills) fall.
Even leaving devices on standby can result in a lot of wasted energy when added up over a year, for example. If you’re not using something, it’s always better to turn it off at the mains to ensure you aren’t wasting energy. If you’re struggling to remember to switch off devices, smart plugs are becoming more readily available that enable you to cut the power remotely from your smartphone.
Buy local and seasonal
The food that you buy also has a major impact on your family’s carbon footprint. Some of your favourite products will have been produced and grown thousands of miles away and shipped to your local supermarket, resulting in a great deal of cumulative environmental damage. Even items that can be made locally are sometimes left off of shelves in favour of cheaper alternatives that come from much further away.
Fortunately, lowering your family’s “food miles” is relatively straightforward: buy locally sourced, seasonal produce whenever you can. By making the decision to buy local, you lower the demand for food that has travelled huge distances and do your bit to lower the carbon emissions of the food industry.
Water, water everywhere
Another simple way of reducing your carbon output is by drinking water from the tap, rather than a bottle. The energy required to package and transport bottled water is substantially more than it takes to transport it to your faucet. Plus, recent research has found that a significant amount of bottled water is nothing more than tap water in fancy packaging.
Reuse and recycle
Whenever you and your family produce waste you contribute carbon emissions. The packaging that you throw out has to be collected and transported, before it is dumped into a landfill, and more packaging is then produced to replace the products that you have used.
To break this cycle, households should reuse and recycle whenever they can. Reusing is the best option as this usually requires no additional energy, but recycling is also hugely beneficial as it is much more energy efficient than creating new products from scratch.
Cut down on your car use
Lowering your carbon footprint doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors for the rest of your life wrapped up in blankets with the lights turned off, but a few small lifestyle changes could make a big difference to the environment. Cutting down on your car usage, for example, is a great way of lowering your carbon footprint and is easily achieved. You could jog or cycle to work a couple of times a week, for example, or look to join a car share scheme at work.
Holiday closer to home
A greener life doesn’t mean your family won’t be able to enjoy themselves, but think about how you could create memorable experiences that are more environmentally friendly. Choosing to have your holiday in your home country, rather than abroad, means avoiding air travel – one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions on the planet.
It can be difficult to appreciate how large your carbon footprint is until you start to really examine your home’s waste and energy usage. If you do want to do your bit for the future of planet earth, your family’s emissions are a great place to start.