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Stamford Climate Action Group shars how to reduce your carbon emissions at home

Many people are considering how they can reduce the carbon emissions from living in their home, but don’t know where to start, writes by Jon Lott of Stamford Climate Action Group.

Indeed, for those living in local honey-stoned heritage buildings it may seem a real challenge. And, of course, their character must be preserved when any work is undertaken. Having researched the practical implications of reducing the carbon footprint of these buildings while at Imperial College, I understand that pragmatism is essential.

That said, given that domestic and commercial buildings together account for almost half UK CO2 emissions, reducing the emissions of all houses is vital if the UK’s contribution to achieving net zero is to be achieved.

Man insulating the attic with rock wool. Photo: istock
Man insulating the attic with rock wool. Photo: istock

Achieving the required reduction in CO2 emissions from existing housing will require significant investments in low carbon technologies that will increase thermal efficiency: “eco-refurbs”. Currently such investment is proceeding at a very low level.

Heritage home dwellers in particular may be concerned by the received wisdom to insulate first when upgrading a building, in order to reduce the size requirements of low carbon heating- heat pumps using renewable electricity - thereby minimising ultimate energy consumption.

The good news is that in the particular case of our heritage buildings, they do start in a better place than many newer homes. Stone buildings tend to be less “leaky” in heat terms than much 20th century housing, due to the thick walls. So, if you are fortunate enough to live in one, don’t be deterred!

Jon Lott
Jon Lott

Here pragmatism is key. Upgrades to insulation in a stone building are challenging; insulating external walls is very difficult as external cladding is out of the question, and insulating walls internally is very disruptive. Lofts are more straightforward. Floors are also possible. If it is a high value refurb, then high efficiency double glazing can be used but this needs to be bespoke to preserve the building’s character.

The pragmatic solution is for renewable heat systems with minimal insulation improvement to be deployed. These will dramatically reduce your household emissions given their efficiency and the UK’s increasingly decarbonised electricity supply. Don’t worry so much about insultation if it is stopping you from acting; focus on the goal!

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