Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases warming the planet. The amount of carbon dioxide produced by the energy we use is called our carbon footprint.
On average, each person in the UK is responsible for approximately 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, with just over half of this amount a result of personal travel and household energy needs.
Use an online carbon calculator such as the Act on CO2 calculator which has been set up by the UK Government to provide you with a measure of your carbon footprint and an action plan to reduce it.
There are a number of simple measures to reduce your carbon footprint in the way you travel, use energy, manage your waste and use water.
- turn off all appliances and lights when not in use, and do not leave appliances on standby
- use energy saving light bulbs, fewer bulbs and maximise natural lighting
- wash your clothes at 30C or lower
- ensure the appliances you use have the highest energy-efficiency ratings and that they are properly maintained and repaired
- turn down unnecessary heating and air-conditioning systems, use automatic time-controlled thermostats and wear more layers of clothes
- use natural ventilation - open windows to cool buildings rather than air-conditioning or fans
- install insulation for walls, floors, loftspace, roofing, boilers, pipework and windows (including replacing single-glazing with double-glazing)
- unplug your mobile telephone charger when not in use
- ensure refrigerators and freezers are set for optimal energy efficiency by making sure they are not next to the cooker or boiler and are on the correct cooling setting
- switch to an energy supplier which uses renewable sources such as solar, wind and wave energy
- invest in your own energy systems (eg solar panels and mini-wind turbines)
- repair all dripping taps and leaks immediately
- do not overfill kettles (ie only boil the amount of water you need)
- use spray taps to reduce water wastage
On the move
- walk, cycle or use public transport rather than using your own car
- when you have to travel by car, ensure you are as energy-efficient as possible (reduce your speed, accelerate slowly, turn down air conditioning, share your journey with others, and keep your car well maintained)
- avoid all short car journeys
- travel by train where possible
- explore alternatives to flying
- use tele- and videoconferencing instead of travelling to meetings where possible.