Reducing Your Impact

This page lists simple 'How to' ways to reduce your impact upon our planet, for the benefit of the next generation(s). There are no golden bullets, just lots of little actions by lots of people across the world that will make a big difference overall.

RYI How to Reduce Your Impact on our Planet and probably save money too Impact Payback
1 Add Solar PV to your property and encourage your employer to do the same High 6 to 9 years
2 Add battery energy storage to the property (in conjunction with RYI-1) Medium Varies on use
3 For your next vehicle, buy or lease an Electric Vehicle (see note 1). Encourage your employer too. High < 7 years
4 Commercial properties: consider voltage control optimisation (click for example) Medium < 3 years
5 Install a good heating digital thermostatic timer/controller and set to 19degC. Use the auto timer program functions. (see note 2) Medium < 2 years
6 Buy an aerated shower head (saves energy, water, sewage costs). Click here for example and consider a shower timer too. (see note 3) Medium < 5 months
7 When you next replace an appliance go for the best efficiency A+++ rating. (see note 4) Medium < 4 years
8 Switch your grid energy supplier to one that is 100% renewable (see note 5). Encourage your employer and neighbour to do the same. High will cost a little more
9 Consider divesting your investments (unit trusts, ISAs, pension) from fossil fuel industry, and investing in cleantech and ethical investments instead. (See note 6) M - H ? -
10 If your heating boiler is getting old, get it replaced with a modern efficient one Medium < 3 years
11 Get your loft insulated well; get your cavity walls insulated; fit draft excluders. Free grants exist. High < 6 months
12 Plant one tree every year. It only costs £25. Take a look at the National Forest. You could give one as a present. One broadleaf tree absorbs approx 1 tonne of CO2 in its lifetime. Medium Quick & Rewarding
13 Why not Panel your Shed with just one solar PV panel. DIY. (See note 7 below). Could be the next big campaign! Medium < 5 years
14 Get a fridge / freezer with digital temperature control. See note 8 Low <1 year
15 Use public transport, where possible. High Costs a little more
16 As lights/lamps fail, replace with LED lighting. For the most used rooms (eg. living room, kitchen, hall) replace with best efficiency LED lighting asap. Low < 2 years
17 Reduce your 'Food miles'. Try to buy locally. eg. buy wine from Spain or even England; instead of from across the other side of the world. Try to avoid air freighted fresh food and buy seasonal food grown in the UK. Medium Should cost less
18 More RYI coming soon....

Notes:

Payback is typical only.


Note-1: If you do lots of long distance trips, consider a plug-in hydrid EV. Important to get the 'plug-in' type. But remember the UK average car trip distance is only 30miles. Also remember electric charge is nominally 2p/mile whereas petrol/diesel is 12p/mile.

Note-2: Set to only switch on 30minutes before you get-up in the morning or return to the property and before you go to bed. If you have underfloor heating try to take advantage of the cheap night tariff electricity before around 7pm. If you have air conditioning set the cooling setpoint to no less than 23degC. Have thermostatic valves on all your radiators except the one in the hall. See them nominally to position 3 (that is around 19degC).

Note-3: A large proportion of a property's water use is heated water for showers/ baths/ washing / dishwashing. The more you use, the more it costs in energy, water, and sewerage charges. You use typical 7 litres of hot water per minute in a shower even with an efficient aerated shower head. In the UK the average water comsumption is over 150 litres per person per day. This can easily be reduced to <100 lpd with good water efficiency measures. In the USA the average per capita water consumption is over twice that of UK.

Note-4: People often focus on the cost of an appliance, but it is the whole life cost that is important. For example a dishwasher appliance could cost £300 to buy, but when you add in the energy and water/sewerage costs over 10years the cost can be more like £1100. So spending just a little more on a very efficient one will save lots in the long term. Remember to consider water use efficiency as well as energy efficiency.

Note-5: Best to switch to a supplier that is UK based and re-investing in real renewable energy projects, as opposed to just acting as a middle-man 'supplier'. Consider Ecotricity or Good Energy or Bulb Energy. It will cost a little bit more, but that little extra will help alleviate the local air quality (health issues) and climate change issues of the alternative 'brown' energy mainly sourced from fossil fuels that most people buy from their energy supplier.

Note-6: Take a look at: beginners guide to divestment and 350.org and see what you think. Remember some of the investment funds for ethical, ecological and environmental based investments have performed very well over the last 5 years. And think ahead: could fossil fuel industry investments actually become 'standed assets' in the future and ultimately have negative returns. And why not lobby your local government, councils, universities, etc with huge pension funds to consider their position on divestment from the fossil fuel and non-ethical industries.

Note-7: Do-it-Yourself (DIY) with a 260W single solar PV panel (measuring 1m x 1.63m) onto your shed roof facing east/south/ or west. And wire to a grid tie micro inverter and plug into a normal 13 Amp socket via a standard appliance cable. No electrican needed. No government incentives or admin. No planning needed. The equipment costs just £180.
This will tyically generate 230kWh per year. Offset your grid import of daytime electricity at say 15p/kWh. Saving you around £34/yr. Payback is in around 5 years. Avoiding 1.9 tonnes of CO2 over 20 year life. Earning you £680 over the 20 years for your small initial £180 investment. That is about 6% APR interest (including your capital back). Much better than the savings bank! Why wouldn't you do it. And it doesn't depend upon any government incentives.
If just 10% of the UK's 30 million outbuildings (many do have light & socket in them already) had this done, this would generate around 690GWh pa of the UK's electricity and avoid emitting 290,000 tonnes of CO2. Simply Amazing! Ought this to be a 'Campaign' in its own right?

Note-8: Set the fridge temperature to 5degC and the freeze temperature to -18degC. Leave space at the rear for air circulation. Locate away from the cooker.