How to reduce our carbon footprint
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How can I reduce my energy bill – and my carbon footprint?
We're trying to look after our world; cutting back on plastic, recycling, working to reduce the amount of food we waste and trying to use the car less. But we still have a long way to go.
Our carbon footprint is the overall amount of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, that we, as individuals produce. It is the measure of our actual effect on the environment.
We know that an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore in carbon footprint, is the primary event associated with climate change that has led to global warming.
In Britain, our homes are the country's second-biggest user of energy after transport – and clean energy is a way to reduce our carbon footprint.
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The electricity and gas we consume in vast quantities is mainly used for heating, hot water, and cooking, as well as running white goods (fridges, freezers, dishwashers, tumble dryers etc) and smart devices like televisions and personal computers that we all possess.
The Government has set itself a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. Housing has an enormous part to play in achieving this, with radical changes and solutions required across an industry that has been slow to react.
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As individuals, we need to work toward a carbon neutral future, by reducing our carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions. We can make a huge difference by turning to 'green' energy, or clean energy sources for our homes. There are several options already out there such as:
• Air source heat pumps, which harvest renewable heat from the outdoor air and upgrade it to deliver heating and hot water for the home.
• Biomass boilers, which can turn waste into useable energy.
• Geothermal heat pumps or heat exchangers to move heat energy into the earth (cooling) and out of the earth (heating).
• Photovoltaic solar panels on our roofs.
In Europe alone, alternative or renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe's grids. We need to do more and act more quickly. 'Governments and energy companies around the world need to better support renewable energy – and stop pursuing fossil fuels,' says Max Halliwell, communications manager at Mitsubishi Electric.
'Despite the introduction of energy price caps, potential future fuel shortages and the rules of supply and demand mean that most households are going to see domestic heating take an increasing slice of their household budgets – providing further incentives to invest in renewable and low carbon technologies,' says Max.
Would an air source heat pump make a difference?
The use of air source heat pumps has been on the increase across Europe, as more and more homeowners turn to the technology as a tried and tested means to heat their homes. You might not know it, but we all use heat pumps already – we just know them by a different name.
Fridges sit in your kitchen, quietly and reliably keeping food cold and fresh. The appliance takes advantage of a vapour compression cycle, using the lower boiling temperatures of different refrigerant gases to extract heat energy from the food and transfer it away from the interior of the cooling chamber. An air source heat pump does the same thing in reverse to harvest free heat energy from the outdoor air – even in freezing conditions. Air source heat pumps take a few degrees of warmth from the air and upgrade it via the vapour compression cycle, to deliver all the heating and hot water a home needs, 365 days a year.
Air source heat pumps are a renewable energy alternative to gas, oil and LPG. The latest range of Ecodan air source heat pumps from Mitsubishi Electric are actually 300pc efficient, meaning they take one unit of electrical energy to harvest heat from the outdoor air, and upgrade this to produce three units of warmth to power your central heating and hot water. Installing a Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan air source heat pump will significantly reduce your household's carbon footprint.
In comparison to a gas boiler, Ecodan air source heat pumps can be used off the gas grid as all they require are electricity and water connections. Thanks to Max Halliwell, communications manager at Mitsubishi Electric for help compiling this article. For more information visit ecodan.me.uk/footprint