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10 quick carbon-cutting tips to help you save energy the smart way

26 October 2021 | Aimee Tweedale

We’ve all heard of switching off the lights to save a bit of money on our energy bills. But did you know that lighting is also a major cause of carbon emissions – 5% globally, in fact1 – which are driving the climate crisis?

As finalists for the Sky Zero Footprint Fund, we’re thrilled to be launching a new ad campaign to shine a light on the power of eco-friendly behaviour changes. As part of our Plan Zero mission – to get to net zero by 2030 and help our members get there, too – we’ve already got sustainability embedded in everything we do. Now, we’re excited to partner with Sky to take that message even further. 

We know that to really fight the climate crisis, we need businesses and governments to stand up and lead the way. But each and every one of us also has a role to play: even if it’s as (seemingly) small as saving energy at home. 

Because, actually, a big chunk of your personal carbon footprint comes from your home energy – as much as 28%2. That’s why we’ve put together these easy tips to help you start switching off and cutting back, without any major sacrifices!

Man changing light bulb

10 tips to help you start cutting carbon today

  1. Turn off the lights while you watch telly. When you’re sitting down to watch your favourite soap, consider dimming the lights, or switching them off completely. If every UK household switched off their living room lights between 7 and 10pm while watching prime-time TV, we’d save a whopping 214,000 tonnes of carbon every year3. Not to mention it gives your binge-watch a much more  cinematic atmosphere! 
  2. Save energy with a smart meter. By showing you exactly how much energy you’re using, smart meters help you save on carbon emissions. (And they could also help knock a few quid off your energy bills, too!)
  3. Exclude those draughts. To keep your heating emissions low, you’ll want to make sure heat is staying inside your home. This will mean lower energy bills, as well as a smaller carbon footprint. Check out our guide to DIY-draught-proofing. 
  4. Switch everything off at the plug. Do you know how much power your TV, games console, or computer is using while it’s sleeping? Read our guide to standby energy to find out. 
  5. Only boil as much water as you need. It’s a trusty old tip, because it’s true. Don’t overfill the kettle, as you’ll be wasting precious energy.  Plus, this way, your kettle will boil even faster!
  6. Get a smart thermostat. With precise controls over your heating, you could save as much as 31% on your energy bills4. If you’re an OVO member, find out how to get a discounted tadoº thermostat today.
  7. Air-dry your hair. If you use an average low-power hairdryer for 10 minutes a day, it uses around 73 kWh over the course of a year. If you air-dry instead, you could save around 26.8kg of carbon a year5. Besides, it’s better for your hair. Ready to switch up your routine? Get more sustainable beauty tips!
  8. Jazz up your light bulbs. Old incandescent bulbs only convert around 10% of the energy they use into light, while the rest is wasted6. But LEDs use about 90% of their energy efficiently – and they also have a lifespan of up to 34 years7. You can get them in loads of different colours and styles, too, so your lighting will never be dull. Find out more in our complete guide to energy-saving light bulbs. 
  9. Stop doing the dishes. Great news for those of us who don’t love washing up after dinner (let’s face it – who does?!). As long as you only run it when it’s full, the dishwasher is actually more efficient than hand-washing. So let those dishes pile up! Bonus points if you run the dishwasher during times of low electricity demand, like overnight.
  10. Get personalised carbon-cutting tips. OVO Greenlight is our carbon-cutting tool especially for OVO members8. It shows you where in the home you’re using the most energy, and where you can cut back. With these personalised tips, you can not only reduce your carbon footprint, but your energy bills, too9! It’ll also help you compare your home’s carbon footprint to the UK average, and tell you when it’s the greenest time of day to use electricity. Clever, eh?

Find out more about OVO Greenlight

And that’s not all…

We’ve got lots of tips right here on our website to help you shrink your carbon footprint at home. Because when it comes to fighting the climate crisis, it’s worth doing everything we can. 

Read our energy-saving guides:

Watch our Sky Zero Footprint Fund TV ad:

Want to save even more carbon at home?

A huge part of your carbon footprint comes from your central heating system. Home heating makes up over half of the average UK household’s energy bills10, and 13% of the whole of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions11.

That’s why we believe that electric systems like air source heat pumps are the future of home heating, and we’re not alone. 

The Heat and Building Strategy – the first ever government strategy on decarbonising heat in homes – sets a new target for phasing out new gas boilers from 2035. Our old boilers will be replaced with low-carbon heating systems like air source heat pumps. In this time, the government will also be making air source heat pumps more affordable, with a £5k grant per household to help homeowners buy and install this carbon-cutting tech!

Fancy being a heat pump pioneer?

Register your interest at the link below. We’ll make sure you’re the first to know about any heat pump trials or other carbon-cutting tech we’re offering.

Register interest

Sources and references:

https://www.theclimategroup.org/led

2  Based on analysis carried out by the Carbon Trust for OVO Group (2020), 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from energy. In this analysis, the carbon footprint includes the following lifestyle categories: energy, transport, shopping, food and drink and holidays. This carbon footprint data has been calculated using BEIS 2020 emission factors. This excludes emissions from things that the average person cannot directly control such as supporting the NHS, defence, government bodies, etc. Please note these figures are not reflective of potential changes to your habits during the coronavirus pandemic.

3 Estimated carbon saving based on average saving if all UK households with a TV who currently watch prime time TV with the lights on, switch off the living room lights between 7-10pm for a year. This statistic has been reviewed by the Carbon Trust.

4 An independent study has shown that installing and correctly using a tadoº smart thermostat can reduce your energy use from heating by up to 31%. The study found that the tadoº device can reduce heating energy requirements by 14-26% through controlling the heat source (e.g. boiler or heat pump). You could also save another 7% by turning down the heating based on the weather forecast, depending on the window sizes. If the window surfaces are relatively large, the energy saving will increase.

5 https://www.confusedaboutenergy.co.uk/index.php/buying-household-appliances/786-hair-dryers

6 https://www.mrsec.psu.edu/content/light-bulb-efficiency#:~:text=Only%2010%25%20of%20the%20energy,90%25%20is%20lost%20as%20heat

https://www.homelectrical.com/cfls-vs-halogen-vs-fluorescent-vs-incandescent-vs-led.6.html#:~:text=Halogen%20light%20bulbs%20are%20slightly,whopping%2072%20lumens%20per%20watt.

8 OVO Greenlight is currently available for the majority of OVO members and will be made available to all remaining members soon.

9 OVO's 2019 analysis of academic research into the effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption behaviours indicates that being able to monitor your energy usage by installing a smart meter and having access to energy insights information can lead to a reduction in energy use. The reduction in energy use results from the customer making changes to their habits by curtailing home energy use through actions such as optimising heating settings or switching lights off. The actual savings achieved will vary depending on individual energy use and the nature of changes made to a customer's energy habits.

10 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/heating-and-hot-water/

11https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/uk-housing-fit-for-the-future/

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