Burning fossil fuels for energy, such as natural gas, coal and oil, raises the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and plays a major role in global warming.
This is a problem for all of us. As the planet gets warmer, sea levels will rise, the weather will become more unpredictable and the delicate balance of natural ecosystems will be disrupted.
Want to know how to reduce global warming? Well, by taking steps to lead more responsible lifestyles we can all save energy and money while doing our bit for the planet.
To get you started, here are 10 simple things you could do to help stop global warming.
Choose reusable instead of disposable, go for products with minimal packaging, and recycle wherever you can. This means fewer raw materials have to be used to create new products, which saves the earth’s precious resources and reduces the energy used to manufacture them. If we can cut the amount of logging, mining and quarrying needed to provide industries with raw materials, we’ll be protecting precious landscapes and habitats from destruction.
Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce global warming.
Most of the energy we use at home goes into heating, so turning down your thermostat by just one degree centigrade (that’s 1.8o fahrenheit) will make a big difference. In fact, it could reduce your heating bills by about 10%. On particularly cold days, you can always just put it back up again for a while until you’re comfortable.
Different rooms need different amounts of heat – possibly at different times of day. You probably want your bathroom to be toasty when you get out of the shower, but just mild for the rest of the time. Your bedroom may need to be warm while you’re getting dressed in the morning but can stay cool after that. Instead of wasting energy, fit radiator valves to control the times when the heating comes on and goes off in individual rooms.
Don’t leave your boiler chugging away all day and all night. Set it to come on only when you need it. There’s no point in heating your home when you’re asleep or out. Programme your timer so that you wake up, and get home, to a level of warmth that suits you.
Leaving appliances in standby mode may not make up the majority of your utility bill, but they are still using energy and could be costing you £20 - £30 a year.
Your TV and other entertainment gadgets are probably using the most energy in standby. Of course you need to leave your cable or satellite box on if you want it to record programmes – but apart from that, when you’re not using them, switch them off at the wall. Particularly if they’ve got a standby light that’s still glowing away at you.
When the time comes to replace an appliance, make sure you choose an eco-friendly model. Most new appliances come with labels to let you know how much energy they’ll use.
Buy energy-saving light bulbs, too. They use around 60% less energy than regular bulbs, and usually last far longer. So they will save you money as well as protecting the environment!
Don’t forget about the energy required to heat water. Installing a low-flow shower head to reduce the amount of water you use (without compromising on pressure), washing clothes at 30˚C and using the economy setting on your washing machine will make a difference.
Leave the car at home if you can, or try to ‘bundle’ your errands together. When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. Check the tyres are properly inflated, and that the engine oil is clean and topped up. And clear out your boot; carrying around needless items increases the weight of your car so it will use more petrol.
If you’re buying a new car, choose one of the more energy-efficient models. Electric cars and hybrids use less petrol and save money. If your budget will only run to a petrol-fuelled car, choose the one that gives you the most miles per gallon.
Airlines are also a major source of pollution. When you’re planning your next holiday, try to think of ways you could travel without flying. The summer weather in the UK may not be reliable, but there’s always plenty to see and do in our cities, and our countryside looks glorious even when it’s raining. Or why not take the train to a resort in Europe? Yes, you’ll have to allow longer for travel, but you’ll see far more scenery than you would in a plane.
A well-insulated home means you’ll use less energy keeping it warm, as all that lovely heat stays where it should – indoors! Fit double or triple glazing, insulate your loft and walls, and fit draught excluders under your external doors.
Renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines are playing an important role in tackling global warming on a large scale. You can get involved by considering renewables for your home – having photovoltaic solar panels installed, for example – or at least by choosing an energy supplier with green values that offers a clean energy option.
The renewable electricity offered by energy companies can be generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
At OVO energy, we offer a choice of energy plans with different amounts of renewable energy. Our Better and Simpler plans offer 33% renewable energy as standard, while our Green energy plan offers 100%.
Don’t just think “Oh, what’s the point?” The more we all recycle and use less energy, the more we’re making it clear to the government that people believe in the importance of the fight against global warming. So every plastic bottle you put in the recycling bin, every energy-saving light bulb you buy, tells the powers-that-be that people do care, and that we don’t want our beautiful planet to be destroyed by pollution.
If you want to make your views even clearer, sites like www.avaaz.org.uk or www.greenpeace.org.uk will let you know what campaigns and petitions are currently happening, or even how to start a petition of your own.