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Doing Your Bit For The Environment - Act on CO2

It will come as no surprise that more than 40% of the UK’s CO2 emissions result from the choices we make as individuals. By taking an active interest in sustainable living, changing the way we live and introducing energy efficiency measures into our homes, we can make a difference to this global issue.
Eco House
To help you improve the energy efficiency of your home, whether it is an existing house or a new build, the organisers of The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, on at the NEC from 18 to 21 March, have put together some great pointers:

Get Educated!

Find out how sustainable you and your home are by checking out your own carbon footprint. Use the Energy Savings Trust’s carbon calculator and get a personalised action plan to do your bit for the environment and reduce energy bills. You can visit the Energy Savings Trust at The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show to get further information or attend the free seminars at the Show. How to heat your home for free and turning your existing home into a low energy house are just two of the many eco topics in the seminar and masterclass programme.

Start with the Basics

There are so many simple ways to become more sustainable in the home – and save money! Turn down your thermostat by one degree (which could save 10% on your heating bills), use the economy setting on the dishwasher, don’t leave appliances and equipment on standby, use your washing machine at 30 degrees, use low energy light bulbs or only fill the kettle for the amount of water you need. Call the Act on CO2 helpline for more advice: 0800 512512.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Insulating your home is a great way to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce energy costs. For the average house 30% of the heat simply escapes through the walls and roof. Did you know that installing or topping up your loft insulation to 270mm thickness can save you £60 a year and reduce your carbon footprint by 299kg? Cavity wall insulation (generally appropriate for houses built between 1920 and 1980) can save £150 on your heating bills and reduce your carbon footprint by 799kg. For new builds, investing in high levels of insulation materials is the most cost effective way to minimise heat loss and keep energy bills low. Insulation materials are used in roofs, walls and floors and there are a wide variety of products on the market for both existing and new homes. Check out the wide range of insulation specialist exhibitors at The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show.

Consider Alternative Energy Technologies

Alternative energy technologies where you produce your own electricity or energy to heat your home may be expensive but can significantly reduce your carbon footprint as well as reduce your utility bills to a minimum. Ground source heat pumps are the darlings of the green movement and work like a fridge, using electricity to power water through pipes below the surface where the temperature remains at a constant 10 degrees. You could also consider wind or hydro turbines and solar panels. For simpler initiatives consider underfloor heating, rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling.

Understand the New Payback Scheme

Grants are no longer available to help towards the cost of installing alternative energy technologies. However, from April 2010 the Government is introducing a Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme in which homeowners who generate their own electricity will be paid a substantial premium for all electricity they generate. Offering a series of per-unit rates, guaranteed by law for 25 years and inflation-linked, the income is also tax free. Now there’s an incentive! From April 2011, the Government will be introducing the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which will apply the same principles to heat energy – for technologies like thermal solar panels and ground-source heat pumps. To find out more, ring 0800 512512 or attend the free masterclass on how to make money from renewable energy at The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show.

Get Financial Help with Ageing Boilers

If your boiler has a permanent pilot light or is over 15 years old, it’s likely it is G-rated and therefore qualifies for the boiler scrappage scheme. The great news is that the Government is offering a £400 cashback voucher for anyone scrapping their G-rated boiler and replacing it with an A-rated boiler or renewable heat technology. There are currently around 3.5 million homes in England with G-rated or worse boilers. Find out if you are eligible by logging onto

Do Your Homework

Do your homework and get as much information as possible. Visit websites like the Association for Environment Conscious Building, the Centre for Alternative Technology and the Energy Saving Trust.

Visit The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show at the NEC from 18 to 21 March. The Show features over 450 exhibitors as well as The Eco Homes Show, free seminar and masterclass sessions, Ask the Experts and Independent Advice Areas. Sustainable living continues to be a big focus of the Show this year and there are two free seminars every day as well as 29 free masterclasses over the four days focussing on specific aspects of energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products and services. You can also speak to Tim Pullen, resident eco-expert at the Ask the Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine Experts stand or visit Oakwright’s cutaway structure demonstrating how your dream home design can accommodate eco-friendly products including solar heating, breathable walls, wind power and insulation.

Tickets are £10 in advance or £14 on the door and children under 16 go free.

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