In the news today it was reported that there is no credible pathway to limit global warming to 1.5C or less. Many people have known this for a long time, and the cast iron expectation is that weather will become more extreme and erratic in the coming decades, threatening harvests and the habitability of large parts of the world.

Given that the average Island resident accounts for around four tones of CO2 emissions per year from a global total of 51 billion tons it might seem a little hopeless to change behaviour and to invest in lowering emissions, but an important thing to keep in mind is that reducing one’s own emissions will almost certainly lead to lower bills, so even if your motivation is not planetary in nature it is still well worthfinding ways to save energy.

Around 75% of the cause of climate change is linked directly to the burning of fossil fuels. We consume those in three ways, for transport, heating and electricity and all three can be either eliminated or reduced dramatically.

Transport – the journey not taken will always be the most efficient, but we all need to get around. And for many different reasons a car can be vital. Electric cars use only one quarter of the energy of a conventional car and even the older models have more than enough range for the island life. Whilst electric cars have been notoriously expensive, they are coming down in price and second-hand cars from the mainland are ideal for the shorter trips here, and the running costs of electric cars are known to be a great deal less than for conventional cars.

Heating – 61% of domestic energy is used to heat space, this is mostly gas and nearly all is used between October and April. Currently if that gas was not being ‘capped’ in other words being paid for by the taxpayer, then the average UK home would be looking at spending an astonishing £5,000 on gas per year, primarily to get through just four cold months. It does not need to be this way a well-insulated house can get by on less than a fifth of the heating of the average UK home. Well-insulated in this case means a house with either internal or external wall insulation, a treatment that is not yet commonplace but is sure to become so. In the meantime more conventional insulation has never been more worthwhile.

Electricity – thanks to renewables, the UK national grid is one of the cleanest in the world and its constantly getting better. In 2021 wind and solar provided 27% of the UK’s electricity, up from 6% in 2012 and 0.3% in 2000. At a household level, we can also make a great impact by choosing more efficient appliances, for example, induction hobs and heat pump tumble driers use around half the energy (or less) than their older counterparts. With today’s energy prices the upfront costs can be paid off after just a couple of years. Lastly if you can install solar panels then with the current energy prices the pay back can be as low as four years, and the carbon payoff is around two years. With an expected lifespan of 30 years or more, that means many years of free, zero emission electricity.

When it comes to energy prices there is very little on the horizon to suggest that we will ever get back to anywhere near 2021 prices. The market was in turmoil for various reasons even before the war in Ukraine, so for the sake of the planet and your pocket it is time to invest in saving energy.