Five green New Year's Resolutions to kick start 2018
Posted by Sam Tonge on 10 January 2018 at 10:20 am
A New Year represents a fresh start for many, with our desire for self-improvement often characterised through the New Year’s Resolutions we set ourselves. Figures suggest roughly 50% of us set these resolutions each January, with the three most common goals typically being to exercise more, lose weight or eat more healthily.
Here at YouGen, we would like to take this opportunity to start thinking about how we can improve the health of our environment whilst benefitting our bank balance! We’ve come up with five green goals which we hope will inspire you to make changes to improve your energy use, reduce your overall impact on the environment and save a bit of cash in 2018.
Switch energy supplier
This is a resolution that can benefit your bank balance as well as the environment. During late-2017, wholesale energy costs rose for both gas and electricity. When prices go up some energy companies increase bills immediately, but when they go down they often aren’t as fast to lower prices. Switching is a relatively easy process – see our blog entry on changing energy suppliers.
It’s also important to look at the environmental credentials of your energy supplier. Many companies are now offering tariffs whereby all the energy you consume is generated from 100% renewable sources. In the spirit of the New Year, perhaps now is the time to shop around for a clean start.
Cut down your electricity consumption
If you’re not sure how much energy certain electrical appliances are actually using, why not ask your energy supplier for a smart meter or in-home monitor? This means that you can see what you’re using and how much it costs, allowing you to adjust your usage accordingly. However if you’re not comfortable with a smart meter there are some sure-fire ways to trim down your bill and carbon emissions.
One of the easiest ways to cut down your energy use is to switch off unused appliances, particularly those that are idle or on standby such as TVs and computers. Why not check your light bulbs to see if they’re the most efficient models. Did you know that LED bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and they tend to last longer too. A further step would be to check the energy efficiency of your appliances, by having a look at the Energy Label. Replacing old inefficient appliances with newer A-rated models will make a big difference to your electricity consumption.
Turn down the central heating (slightly)
Studies have shown that 60% of energy consumption within the typical UK home is used for space heating. The Energy Saving Trust states that reducing room temperatures by just 1ºC can cut heating bills by up to £85 a year. Instead of whacking up the central heating during the winter months, putting on a jumper and staying active within the home can allow you to stay warm, with a slight adjustment to the thermostat likely to make minimal difference to your comfort and wellbeing. The average indoor temperature of British houses is 17.5 ºC, meaning a reduction to 16ºC would cut carbon emissions by 7%. Hence, looking at your heating can save you both cash and carbon in the long run.
Those of you who watched Planet Earth II last year (as well as those who didn’t) will be particularly conscious of the impact of single-use plastics on our marine ecosystems. However instead of feeling despondent about the problem, you can take action immediately on an individual level by re-using items wherever possible. Did you know that just 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled as it is difficult to separate their plastic coating and cardboard in order to recycle the card? By bringing in a re-usable flask each day for your morning coffee, you can help improve your environment without having to suffer any significant cost or hardship. But why stop at coffee cups? Investing in re-usable food containers and shopping bags will pay off in the long-term when it comes to reducing your own waste levels. You could also try to buy goods with less plastic such as buying your coffee in glass (rather than the plastic refill pouches) so that they glass can be recycled.
Travel more sustainably
Over the last year, there were 37.5 million vehicles registered for use on the road in Great Britain. The car’s popularity is understandable given its convenience and flexibility as a way of getting around. However we are all too familiar with the associated problems (faced predominantly in urban areas), including congestion and air pollution as well as the contribution of transportation to global greenhouse gas emissions.
So why not ask yourself whether the journeys you make by car are actually necessary and whether or not it’s the best and quickest way to get you to your destination? If it’s a short journey, why not walk or even take a bicycle? If it’s a longer journey, public transport may even get you there in a similar amount of time and allow you to sit back and relax, as opposed to facing the stress that comes with conquering the daily traffic jams.
Some final tips
These are just ideas and we encourage you to tailor these to your own personal goals and aspirations you’re making in 2018. Whether you’re thinking of improving your health and wellbeing, financial situation or your local environment, we hope that you find these a useful foundation for making this year your best yet.
And remember, it’s been proven that we're more likely to succeed in keeping to our New Year’s Resolutions if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based.
Let us know about any green New Year’s Resolutions you’re taking part in the comments section below.
About the author:
Sam has contributed to our blog since 2016 and previously worked for the National Energy Foundation.
He became interested in green energy after completing a degree in Geography (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Sam is passionate about renewable energy and is committed to spreading the word about the role it plays in delivering environmental sustainability.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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