When it comes to reducing your impact on the planet, there is so much information out there, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are 10 areas you can start to make the biggest impact to reduce your carbon footprint. Most of them will save time, money and improve your health and quality of life in the process.

1. Where To Start? Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

The average UK citizen has a carbon footprint of around 12 tonnes of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases). To stop global temperatures rising much higher, it is recommended that we all reduce our carbon footprint to around 2 tonnes of CO2 per year. That seems like a big drop but if we all were to reduce our carbon usage by just 10% each year, we’ll be able to achieve that 2 tonne target by 2030. When trying to achieve any goal, it is good to know your starting point and luckily there are sites that already exist that will give you a rough idea of your carbon footprint.
Resurgence Carbon Calculator 
WWF Footprint Calculator 
There is also a new project being launched soon called Smart Living. They will have a range of carbon calculators to use depending on the level of detail you would like to enter.

2. Green Your Energy Supply

Switching to a green electricity tariff could save you over £200 and reduce your carbon footprint by 1 tonne per year. You’ll be supporting renewable energy production in our national grid and it sends an important message to suppliers that we want more renewable energy generation. Grab your latest bill info and make the switch using the Big Clean Switch  just click on 361 Energy link at the bottom for ‘where did you hear about us?’ question.

3. Get Your House In Order

energy efficientDid you know that 15% of UK greenhouse gases are produced from our homes? 48% of that goes towards heating our home and water. If your home is not insulated well you’re losing a lot of that heat (and money) out into environment.

A typical uninsulated house will lose:

  • 10% of heat through the roof
  • 30% heat from drafts
  • 20% through windows
  • 15% through the floor
  • 25% through the walls.

Insulating your home could help save 2 tonnes from your carbon footprint and reduce your energy bills. Use this time to check whether your loft, walls and floors have been insulated. You may even be entitled to grants/loans to help with this which 361 Energy will be able to help you with when we can start doing home visits again.
If you can’t get any of the bigger jobs completed by contractors during lock down there are some simple DIY retrofitting you can do such as draught proofing doors and windows.
The next big steps are to look at renewable energy and battery storage. RES Devon  are a local company for advice on this.

4. Small Behaviour Changes Can Add Up To Big Carbon And Money Savings

5% of the average carbon footprint comes from energy usage. The cheapest energy is saved energy and just by changing a few habits we can start to reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes.
Here are a few ways to get started:
a. Switch off and unplug electrical appliances when they are not in use. Electrical appliances still draw electricity when they are plugged in but are not being used. Switching them off could save you 5- 10% on your energy bills.
b. Switch off the lights when nobody is using the room
c. Swap your light bulbs to LEDs. Each swap would save 0.627(t) from your carbon footprint and save around £10 per year. South West Lighting will give you a 10% discount if you mention 361 energy when buying LEDs.
d. Turn down your thermostat. About half of the energy used in the home goes on heating and hot water. It is recommended that homes are kept a temperature of between 18 – 21 degrees C to avoid damp homes and health conditions. However, turning the thermostat down by just 1 degree could save about £80 per year and reduce the amount of carbon used in the process.
e. Reduce the amount of hot water you use by shortening the length of time in the shower, reducing the number of baths you have and washing your clothes at a lower temperature.

Receive a free energy advice phone call from 361 Energy for further energy and money saving tips.

5. Carbon Dieting

A whopping 20% of the average carbon footprint comes from food. There’s no need to go vegan overnight, but you can reduce carbon in your diet by making cutting down red meat and dairy. If you are eating meat think about the carbon footprint of what you are consuming. It’s usually better to source locally and helps keep money in our local economy. Plastic Free North Devon have put together a handy shop local directory.
Giki also have an app you can use to check the environmental footprint of your supermarket products.

6. Travel

The lockdown has meant more of us working from home with more time for family, hobbies and
exercise. Technology has made it possible to connect online with platforms and tools to help us work from home efficiently.
Those returning to work are being encouraged to bike and walk. Travel Devon has lots of useful information on cycling routes, safety and cycle shops. Think about making your next car electric, Drive Electric shows the array of cars and leasing prices Flying is one of the biggest things which will bump up your carbon footprint. Staycations are probably on the cards this summer, but do you really have to fly for future holidays? Trainline cover bus and train travel across Europe and Ferry Savers cover bookings for European destinations . If you do fly, make sure you offset with a gold standard company such as Terraneutra 

7. Reduce Reuse Recycle

Buying new stuff and producing waste has hidden carbon impacts. Mend, swap, buy second hand on a range of budgets from freecycle sites and facebook groups in North Devon to pre loved designer items such as from Re:Store shops in Barnstaple and Bideford. Recycle Devon have lots of great advice and links on how to reduce your waste during the coronavirus.

8. Connect To Nature

Health and wellbeing are important during this time and many of us want to connect back to nature. We are lucky to be able to do this living in a UNSECO Biosphere Reserve and have access to North Devon AONB.
The Pledge for Nature Campaign is a great resource to find out about what you can do to help nature in your patch or attend one of Braunton Countryside Centre’s  live online events to learn more about why our area is so special from local experts and guides.

Plant a tree – it’s the best carbon capture technology we know about!

9. Be An Armchair Environmentalist

Write an email or post on your MPs or Local Councillors social media. Ask them what they are doing
to promote a green recovery after COVID. For instance, what are they doing to promote renewable energy, green local jobs, investment in cycling and walking or retrofitting homes?
Contact your local MP:
North Devon: Selaine Saxby 
Torridge: Geoffrey Cox 
Find Your Local Councillor:
North Devon 
Find Your Devon County Council Councillor

Here is a link to template letter so you can even copy and paste what you’d like to say!

10. Get Involved Gain Knowledge

Tell your friends and family what changes you’ve been making and become an eco influencer in your
community or a champion for change by sharing this article or your actions on social media posts and in groups.
Join a local climate action group and meet others taking action. Here are just some of the local
Regen Braunton 
Zero Croyde and Georgeham 
Lyn Climate Action 
Ilfracombe Climate Emergency Action
Torridge Common Ground
Bideford Sustainability Group
Sustainable Action North Devon
Extinction Rebellion North Devon 
Support Devon’s Climate Emergency Project 

361 Community Energy are the only community energy group in Northern Devon. Support our quest
for community owned renewables, and to find out more about climate change action in homes, schools and businesses. Join our mailing list or donate to our cause.