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How to reduce your energy output during lockdown

Placing the entire United Kingdom under lockdown has led to a series of “risings”. While tempers, tensions, and stresses may first spring to mind, another more pressing issue is set to rise, and it affects all of us – energy use. 

With almost the entire population stuck in their homes, energy that was likely to have been covered by workplaces and places of education now occur in the household. In 2018, businesses accounted for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, and residential use was 15%. Even without a pandemic to keep everyone indoors, residential use was on the rise, and it is likely that with more and more people working from home at least some usage previously covered by businesses will now take place in the household.  

With almost the entire population stuck in their homes, energy that was likely to have been covered by workplaces and places of education now occur in the household

As Britons are no longer permitted to go out and spend time with friends and family, many of us turn to technology to occupy ourselves. Whether it’s baking a cake, playing your friends on the Xbox, bingeing Netflix box-sets or working from home on your laptop, every time we flip a switch each and every one of us contributes to the current climate crisis. 

Why, you ask? Electricity that is sourced by the National Grid relies on un-environmentally friendly sources, such as coal and oil to create our energy. Each time fossil fuels are burnt, harmful gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane are emitted into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect which results in climate change. Harmful gases such as CO2 can remain in the atmosphere for 100 years,  meaning that our actions now will have a huge impact on the future.The burning of coal also does not go without problems either, with its emission of sulfur-dioxide contributing to the formation of acid rain, and its harmful byproduct fly ash – containing traces of poisonous heavy metals that are hazardous to human health, fish, and other wildlife.

Each time fossil fuels are burnt, harmful gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane are emitted into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect which results in climate change

In 2018, the United Kingdom emitted 451.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which was decreased from 461 million tonnes in 2017. If we, as individuals, take the necessary actions to reduce our energy consumption in the home, we can help prevent this, and our bills, from rising again. With a few small changes, we stand to make a big impact.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your standpoint) for us, we are stuck at home as summer begins to rise. With increased and prolonged daylight, many of us can switch our lights off and substitute natural light as our source of illumination. If you must turn a light on, make sure to switch it off as you leave a room, or when it is no longer needed. 

If we, as individuals, take the necessary actions to reduce our energy consumption in the home, we can help prevent this, and our bills, from rising again

The sunnier weather also means we can go vintage and hang our clothes on a washing line, or outdoor airer, rather than using unnecessary energy on tumble drying our clothing. In addition, letting nature heat our homes can have a huge effect, as simply knocking your thermostat down 1 degree can save up to £75 per year. If we are unfortunate enough for the cold weather to return, bring the fluffy dressing gowns, blankets and hoodies out for extra warmth, as the heating doesn’t need to be off to make a difference.

Another great way to keep energy use down is by doing things together. Consider cooking and washing up together – even if you must eat different meals, using the oven at the same time prevents extra energy from being used in turning it on again. A big one for Brits is our tea drinking, with the powering of kettles accounting for 6% of British energy use. Next time you make a cuppa, only fill the kettle with the water you need, or consider asking your family if they would like one too. 

While togetherness is important for saving energy, it is even more important for our mental health, as we remember we are not alone and will get through this together.

Understandably, with most of us staying indoors we will be making technological efforts to entertain ourselves. However, instead of using several devices, try sticking to just one. 

Next time you want to play a video game, consider asking your family members to play with you, as the energy used in powering one TV is far less than powering several. There are also many fun and creative ways to entertain ourselves without the use of technology, ranging from classic family board games to reading, making art together, doing a jigsaw puzzle or exercising together. 

While togetherness is important for saving energy, it is even more important for our mental health, as we remember we are not alone and will get through this together.

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