Reducing your household’s carbon footprint doesn’t need to be daunting or expensive. By making some small changes at home, you can start lowering your emissions and save money at the same time.
We’ve selected a few actions that are free or cheap to implement and will generate savings quickly.
Why your household’s carbon-reducing actions are important
The world is racing to reach the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050 and households have a key role to play in achieving this target. Although your household carbon footprint might seem small in the scheme of things, individual actions at a household level can go a long way in ensuring a low carbon and climate resilient future. Australian households contribute one-fifth of our national greenhouse gas emissions, with the average Brisbane household producing around 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.
Easy, budget-friendly tips to start taking action
Understand your emission sources and most-relevant actions
The first step in your carbon-reducing journey is calculating your household carbon footprint and determining the emission reduction actions that best suit your household, lifestyle and budget. Brisbane City Council has developed the Brisbane Carbon Challenge carbon footprint calculator for local households to estimate their carbon emissions from transport, home energy and waste and receive low-carbon action tips.
Did you know fuel use in cars makes up approximately 50% of all household carbon emissions? Reducing car trips is the best way to save fuel, but it’s not always convenient. However, it’s easy to practice eco-driving to be more fuel-efficient and limit transport emissions.
According to RACQ, some easy eco-driving tips include:
- Avoid idling and unnecessarily leaving the engine on
- For manual drivers, shift through gears as quickly as possible
- Keep your tyres inflated to the maximum recommended level.
Set your air conditioner at the right temperature
While air conditioners are one of the most energy-intensive appliances in the home, it’s hard to imagine a Brisbane summer without them. Even setting your air conditioner one degree warmer can make a difference to your energy consumption and bills. Most people find a temperature between 24-27°C best in summer. Also, remember that fans use a lot less electricity than air conditioners.
Upgrade to LED lights
Energy and cost efficiency are some of the many advantages of LED light bulbs. Indeed, they use up to 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light and last significantly longer before needing to be replaced.
Switch off unnecessary lighting and appliances
Lighting and appliances can add up to 20% of an average Australian household’s energy bills. Did you know they could still consume energy when you’re not using them? Make a habit of turning off lights in empty rooms and switching off appliances at the wall to reduce energy wastage and unnecessary costs.
Get a low-flow showerhead
Taking shorter showers is the best way to save on water bills in the bathroom, but not the only one. Low-flow showerheads use air for high pressure and much less water than standard showerheads.
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) system makes it easy to choose a water-efficient showerhead. The difference is impressive: a 3-star WELS showerhead will have a flow rate of nine litres per minute or less, whereas an inefficient showerhead will use between 15 and 25 litres per minute. Swapping out your showerhead won’t break the bank either – you can purchase a 3-star showerhead for $60 and the switch can save a household of four around $340 each year on water and energy bills.
Always wash clothes with a full load on a cold-water setting
Washing full loads means fewer washes overall, therefore reducing the amount of water and energy used. If you run small loads because you’re worried about colours running onto your white clothes, use an eco-friendly colour catcher sheet to wash all your clothes together.
Most of the energy used by a washing machine is for heating the water. Washing your clothes in cold water can use up to 10 times less energy. So every time you wash using hot water, you’re increasing your energy bill – often for no better result. Saving energy is not the only advantage of cold water: clothing is less likely to shrink or fade.
Approximately 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from organic waste going to landfill. So rather than throwing your food scraps in your general waste bin, collect them in a kitchen caddy to put in your compost bin or worm farm, or take to a community composting hub. Not only will this avoid emissions, but you can also produce worm tea or nutrient-rich soil to make your garden or pot plants thrive. Thanks to Brisbane City Council’s compost rebate program, you can claim up to $70 when you buy a new compost solution.
Measure your success and encourage others to join you
After implementing actions to cut down on your emissions, you can re-take the Brisbane Carbon Challenge to see how much you have reduced your carbon footprint. You will also increase your impact by sharing these tips and spreading the word about the benefits of reducing household carbon emissions.