SUSTAINABLE HOME: "Let’s make energy waste at home as socially unacceptable as single-use plastic"

“We need to start thinking about energy the way we think about waste – just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean we should just throw it away carelessly.”

Sustainable Home logo.

This is part of the new Sustainable Home series.

Loughborough University Research Associate Ben Roberts says its time for people to be more conscious of their energy use, especially when it comes to turning on the heating.

He has pulled together a list of simple tips, which he hopes will help property owners, renters, students and those living with family make their homes more environmentally friendly.

Making small changes can not only cut energy bills, it can also cut carbon emissions.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, heating and hot water for buildings make up 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions  - so our homes have a major role to play to ensure the UK reaches its 2050 climate obligations.

A lightbulb next to money and a small tree.

Simple changes can have a big impact. 

Ben, whose research focuses on smart meter technologies, advises the following for reducing heating and electricity energy use:

  • Heating: Set a timer/schedule to only heat when you need to. Turn the thermostat down when you can – and sometimes all you may need to do is put on a jumper! Make sure you’re only heating the rooms you need and use TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) to control the temperature in individual rooms
  • Windows: Don’t leave them open when the heating is on or when you are out. Don’t control the heating by opening windows – turn the heating down or off. If there’s a draught from windows or doors, look at investing in draught stoppers as these could save energy and money
  • Make small changes: Start turning things off properly rather than leaving them on standby. Change your incandescent lightbulbs to energy saving ones like LED bulbs. Don’t leave your heating on unnecessarily and ensure checking windows are closed is always on your list of things to do before leaving the house
  • Control what you can and be an active, considerate consumer: As mentioned, energy use is invisible, and some properties have bills included. Think about being a considerate user of energy, let’s make wasting energy at home as socially unacceptable a single-use plastic
  • Choose the right home in the first place: You may be in a property now, but if you’re looking to relocate in the future then have a look around for a place with desirable features such as good insulation and double glazing. By choosing the most energy-efficient property you will save energy and money. If you’re renting, this show of interest may also encourage landlords to improve their properties. You can also access a rental property’s Energy Performance Certificate online to check how efficient a place is.

Ben commented: “Energy use at home is a large component of UK carbon emissions. It’s vital that we all contribute to reducing energy use at home. I hope these five tips will be easy to try regardless of whether you rent, own your home, or are looking for somewhere new to live.”

The above infographic, by the Energy Saving Trust, shows how simple changes, like replacing bulbs and installing draught excluders, can be good for your bank account as well as the planet.

Ben's video is the fifth and final video released as part of the Sustainable Home video series. Previous videos have been on food wasterecycling, fashion waste and single-use plastics.

To access the Sustainable Home series, visit the Media Centre video and audio subsection.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/224

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