Top tips to reduce your household’s carbon footprint
For World Environment Day, take positive action to reduce your own impacts. Let’s all Toitū together!
Reducing our carbon emissions can seem daunting. However, Toitū’s Household Calculator makes it easy to track your progress and see the impact that simple lifestyle changes can have on your emissions.
The Household Calculator estimates your emissions across three different categories – home energy, travel and household waste – by calculating the kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO2e).
You can simply use the provided default emission values for the ‘average’ New Zealand household and tailor them to best fit your household. In this way you can identify where emissions savings can be made and set your goals based around your future savings targets.
Below are some simple emission saving tips to get you started.
Hang your laundry on the line
It’s tempting to chuck your clothes in the tumble dryer. However, thermal dryers are the most energy intensive appliances in our homes. One dryer load uses five times more electricity than that same load in the washing machine. If it’s a clear day, hang it on the line and your power bill, clothes and the climate will thank you.
If you aren't using it, switch it off
Many people don’t realise that having a cord is plugged into a live socket uses energy. Unless you are charging them, leave your devices unplugged. The same goes with your lights. You could also consider changing old fashioned incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. They cost more, but LEDs use a quarter of the energy and last longer.
Reduce your reliance on the national grid
Most electricity in New Zealand is generated by renewable sources, mainly hydro. However, we are still reliant on some coal and natural gas to top this up. Investing in solar panels, solar water heating, insulation and double-glazing will make your house more energy efficient and reduce your carbon emissions. You could also consider using appliances at off-peak times. This reduces the pressure on the grid which means it is less likely to need top up from fossil-fuel powered energy. Many electricity suppliers provide information on this, or you can use the general rule that peak demand in New Zealand is usually between 4 pm and 8 pm.
The Ministry of Transport estimates that on average New Zealand men travel 12,000 km per year by car and women 8,000 km. Small changes make a difference; 1000 fewer kilometres equate to a saving of over 200 kg CO2e. The numbers come down in the case of hybrid and electric vehicles. For short trips down to the shops consider biking or walking, while carpooling and public transport are good options for urban commutes.
Buy clothes that last
The fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter globally after aviation. It accounts for over 92 million tonnes of waste per year and consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water in the production processes, mainly in parts of the world where such water use is unsustainable. Ideally, invest in fewer better-quality items that last or are sustainably produced or consider shopping second hand.
Recycling and composting
Composting food and garden waste and recycling your used paper can reduce carbon emissions from your household waste by around one-third over a year. When you’re buying products, look for minimal unrecyclable packaging and if you can, look for ways to dispose of hard-to-recycle items at your local transfer station.
Reducing our impacts and creating a better environment is something we all want to achieve.
Good luck with your sustainability actions and goals, we’d love to you to share them with us on Facebook .
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