The other EPC
Most people have financial savings at the forefront of their minds when considering home energy efficiency improvements. Some will have more than a passing thought for the environment. Whatever the motivation, individual households can make an important contribution towards national energy efficiency goals and greenhouse gas reduction targets. While focussing on the primary meaning of EPC, an Energy Performance Certificate, we should not lose sight of the second, Every Property Counts.
Better energy efficiency brings reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, which account for some three-quarters of the greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is produced whenever fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil are burned to produce energy for transport, heat or electricity generation.
A ‘Carbon Footprint’ is not a buzzword, it is a very important consideration for us all.
The vast majority of scientists now believe that our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to climate change. They form a blanket in the atmosphere that traps some of the reflected energy from the sun, causing warming that affects the oceans, ice caps, vegetation and weather patterns. This is beginning to have serious consequences for the environment and for the wildlife and people that live within it. Carbon dioxide can persist in the atmosphere for up to 200 years, so even if we take urgent action now, emissions that have already been released that will continue to affect our climate for generations to come.
Some of the consequences of climate change are potentially disastrous. Precipitation is reducing in some areas around the world, causing drought, while others are experiencing increased rainfall and storms, exacerbating sediment runoff into rivers and drinking water supplies, and producing more frequent and severe floods.
Increasing temperatures are melting ice sheets at the poles and causing sea level rise, adding to the risk of flooding at the coast and threatening the very existence of some low-lying islands. Rising sea levels can also cause saltwater to infiltrate some freshwater systems.
Overall, climate change is increasing the demand for water while the supply diminishes. In turn, this will affect food production, levels of malnutrition and disease in some of the world’s poorest nations.
Climate change also seems to be contributing to increasing damage from wildfires and tropical storms, so the consequences can be financial as well as social and environmental.
What Can We Do?
One of the best ways of countering climate change is to address the carbon footprint of every country, industry, community and individual household. Well over 10% of the carbon emissions in the UK come from electricity use in private households, so one immediate way to reduce our carbon footprint is to take control of energy wastage. Turn off lights, heating, air conditioning and electrical appliances when they are not needed, unplug chargers, and do not rely on standby settings. Insulate your property, switch to energy efficient light bulbs, put in a smart meter, change to a new and more efficient boiler and use a microwave when possible.
It takes a huge amount of energy to get water to your home too, so conserve it by having shorter showers and turning the tap off while you brush your teeth, and save rainwater for watering the garden.
Individually, each property’s contribution may seem modest, but add them together and they may represent an earth-saving carbon footprint reduction.