/ Green improvements

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
iusedtoclimb - on 12 Jun 2017
So want to look at improving our carbon footprint

1- solar panels - are they worth it?
2- Apart from recycling what other steps have people taken to reduce their carbon footprint

Cheers
Castleman - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

Good challenge!

1) Solar panels, yes, but good for long term.
2) We've also been focusing on significantly reducing waste more than just recycling, as a conscious effort to reduce waste by 40%. E.g. buying in bulk, reusing containers, not taking unnecessary packaging etc. (Lots of stuff under "zero waste")
3) Minimising use of car (too easy to get into bad habits when alternatives are viable)
4) Improving insulation in the house
5) Growing more ourselves - particularly herbs and easy to grow fruit (redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries) and veg (spinach, salad leaves, rocket, radishes (mixed success!) etc).
6) Buying seasonally and locally (depending where you are, there may be a community supported agriculture farm near you - we discovered these were financially very competitive as well as the other benefits...e,g, https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/csa/canalside-community-food/)
7) Ditched the private jet and personal coal power station.



Castleman - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

Am really surprised no other contributors to this.
Lusk - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

I've started home brewing, so my CO2 output has increased hugely!
abseil on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

> ....Apart from recycling what other steps have people taken to reduce their carbon footprint

I now:
*make the butler cycle into town for shopping
*only use the Lear Jet for weekday golf trips - no weekends
*slow down to 90 MPH in towns
*not buying the 5th car now
Clint86 - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

We don't fly.
Sold our car.
Cycle/walk everywhere.
Warm one room only in the winter. Heat other rooms just before using, eg bedroom.
Installed log burner.
Have heavily insulated loft in a bungalow.
Don't buy much stuff, reuse it, then recycle it if we have to.
Get milk off milkman in bottles, cut down on milk.
Have gone vegetarian. Less dairy produce.
Use local markets, only buy fruit and veg from NWest, plus bananas.
Use Booths regional supermarket.
Bank with the Cumberland.
Get Ethical Consumer for advice.
Get electricty and gas from Good Energy.
Get phone and internet through Phone Coop.
Installed a water meter
Installed a water butt
abseil on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> ....only buy fruit and veg from NWest....

The NatWest Bank sell fruit & veg now??! I knew they were in trouble but I didn't know it was that bad
toad - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:
It doesn't matter what kind of car you have. The trick is not to use it if you don't need to. I mostly walk or use public transport, but I know that's because I can because of where I've chosen to live. I still drive, and I don't get unduly het up about it, but if I don't have to, I don't.

Leaving the lead foot at home helps as well. At one stage I was driving minibuses with "lightfoot" in them which monitors your driving style and shouts at you in sat nav voice if you don't. although it's incredibly annoying, having some prim lady telling you to moderate your driving style in a bus full of students does make you drive more thoughtfully
The New NickB - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

We have improved insulation and invested in a much more efficient boiler. We have also gone from one car to two, whilst mileage hasn't quite halved, fuel consumption has. We are fortunate to be able to do this with only minor lifestyle changes.
1
Clint86 - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to abseil:

Mmm, I was aware I rushed it a bit. North West, generally Lancashire.
abseil on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> Mmm, I was aware I rushed it a bit. North West, generally Lancashire.

Thanks, Clint.

PS I like your long post at 17:35 - very thorough and some good ideas.
Clint86 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to abseil:

The trick with solar panels is to actually use the power you generate which will be a bit more difficult if you work away each day.
L bearman68 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

Use an old car not a new one (Most energy goes into making new).

It's interesting that focusing on cost, tends to result in the reduction of Co2. Air travel is probably one of the big ones, where cost and Co2 production are not reflected in one another.
We have solar panels making electrickery, and because I can't get FIT payment on a second set, I'm just (this summer) wiring a second smaller set directly into the immersion heater, to provide summer hot water. (That may not be for everyone).
Concrete is a big Co2 generator, so a low level of concrete use will help. Natural lime will do about the same job, and sometimes better depending on circumstances.
What about grass clippings - is there much benefit in not cutting lawns (Oh I'm all for that), or considering how we deal with the clippings it produces. We tend to compost ours, or leave on the lawn after the first cut of the season.
Oh, and washing machines, dishwashers etc on at night. It tends to reduce demand on the diesel generators brought in on standby. (No cost benefit though).
Lusk - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> The trick with solar panels is to actually use the power you generate which will be a bit more difficult if you work away each day.

Store it in hot water, or becoming more feasible, batteries.
RX-78 on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

I guess also reducing water usage will help as it has to be cleaned, disposed, pumped etc. So a simple solution is no baths, shower only, also no need to flush the toilet after every use (except the obvious one).

Also just but less stuff! keep your old TV, furniture etc, do you really need a new ultra modern shiny kitchen?

Use freecycle
wintertree - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> The trick with solar panels is to actually use the power you generate which will be a bit more difficult if you work away each day.

This is actually worse for the environment than just importing and exporting to the grid as needed. It is worse for 2 reasons - inefficiencies of load shifting with batteries and environmental cost associated with producing the batteries and extra power electronics.

https://www.nature.com/articles/nenergy20176
wintertree - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

We are progressively insulating our house to reduce boiler usage and hope in 5 years to be insulated to the point where an electric air source heat pump can replace the boiler. We have a big wood stove that can heat most of the house but it's not always practical. This insulation is no small task as it's a 1700s stone property. We are digging floors out down to the clay and rebuilding them for example.

1.6kw of rooftop solar-PV is about to go on an outbuilding and in 2 years the garage roof will get 6.4 kw of solar-PV. This is grid tied, and the garage update will upgrade the current battery backup system to a battery storage/self consumption system. This addition comes at an environmental cost but will see us grid and generator independent for about 10 months of the year. With the garage roof PV we will also install a thermal store that uses surplus solar-PV to heat our water. Plan is a switch to EVs in a few years with the solar providing our weekly mileage for ~8 months of the year (on top of self consumption hand hot water. For about 7 months we will export lots. These numbers are based on modelling scaled from a 200 W test system.

Also intend to switch to an electricity provider that supports renewables.

I'm also building a formidable rainwater capture and treatment system (filtration, activated carbon and when LED units are more common, UV) but this is for garden and orchard watering rather than domestic use. I'm wishing now I'd put a diverter on the bath output and put some reed beds in, before getting decoration done.

Living up north (hello Kielder), water usage doesn't bother me. It's very cheap in terms of £ and carbon compared to our heating and mileage.
Post edited at 11:16
1
Lord_ash2000 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

The biggest one is probably don't have kids, followed by not getting a meat eating pet (dogs) and then not eating meat, not flying etc. If you're really, really keen you could just kill yourself and let you body bio degrade in some natural woodland somewhere.

As after all the single biggest environmental issue we're faced with is population control, there are simply to many of us on the planet for it to sustain us at a level we're happy with. If there were only a billion on earth, we'd all be much richer and could drive around in big V8's all day and there wouldn't be anything to worry about.
TeeBee on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> If there were only a billion on earth, we'd all be much richer and could drive around in big V8's all day and there wouldn't be anything to worry about.

Apart from the occasional niggle of conscience regarding what we'd done with the other six billion, perhaps?
wintertree - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> and let you body bio degrade in some natural woodland somewhere.

Far to much methane produced by natural decomposition. Not good at all, far worse than carbon dioxide. Cremation might be better in terms of overall warming effect; especially if you use the crem to fuel a district heading system.
Jack B on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

Solar panels are nice, but they won't be making a huge difference to CO2 and the subsidies aren't as good as they were (still good money though). A ten square meter array of south-facing panels will produce about 5kWhr/day [1], and since it's mostly during the middle of the day in summer when demand is low, it's probably not displacing an equivalent amount of fossil fuel generation - because it has to be stored, and that's never 100% efficient. Some other places you could look for savings (YMMV, I don't know how your consumption compares to the average):

  • If you commute by car 15 miles each way and average 50mpg, then that is 30kWh/day. Cycle or take public transport once a week and you're making a bigger difference than the solar panels.

  • One trip to the US or a couple of trips to southern Europe by air each year is about 30kWh/day when averaged over the year. Holidaying close to home saves a lot.

  • Heating your house: 25kWh/day/person though obviously varies a lot depending on size and insulation. If your house is big enough to put panels on the roof, i'd guess it's more like 50kWh/day. So insulation which saves 15% handily beats the panels.

  • Incandescent lights throughout the house might use 1-2kWh/day, more in winter. Replacing with LEDs is not as good as the panels, but is pretty cost effective.

  • Meat costs energy to look after animals. Even without counting caw-farts, switching to a veggie or very-low-meat diet would save 5kWh/day - about the same as the panels.

  • Buying things means using energy. Especially imported stuff, where it has to be made and transported. Good estimates of energy requirements are hard to come by, but 40kWh/day/person is used in ref[1]. So using less and recycling more can make a big difference.





[1] Funny unit I know, but since kWh is what energy is sold in and it gives reasonably approachable numbers I'll use it. It's borrowed from Sustainable energy without the hot air by David MacKay. That's also where I got most of the numbers from, its a good read. It's not perfect - nothing is - but it's pretty good in general and quite approachable.
Clint86 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to wintertree:

No I mean actually using it, like washing day on a sunny day, cake making is on a sunny day. Thats ok isn't it?
Clint86 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

Whilst population is unsustainable, isn't it a fact that a small number of people have a massively larger footprint than the majority.
Lord_ash2000 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> Whilst population is unsustainable, isn't it a fact that a small number of people have a massively larger footprint than the majority.

Yes that is a good point, you're not going to do much good wiping gout the populations of Africa for example. People in the USA and Europe however pack a lot more bang.

To be more serious though a gradual scaling down of the human population world wide by having fewer than 2 children per woman for a couple of generations probably wouldn't be a bad thing. Provided that is that the elderly plan to look after themselves as there won't be as many workers to support them while the reductions are on going.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

Are wood burners very green? I have read a lot of stuff saying they are very polluting...has this been de-bunked?
jkarran - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

> So want to look at improving our carbon footprint

Relatively cheap options: adding insulation to your home, fixing draughts, changing utility suppliers, travel less by car and air, share lifts when you can, cut the meat and dairy down, buy seasonal local and eat what you buy.
jk
Rob Parsons on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> Whilst population is unsustainable, isn't it a fact that a small number of people have a massively larger footprint than the majority.

Undoubtedly true. However the human population has *doubled* over the past 50 years - quite an incredible statistic - and shows no sign of slowing down yet. There are arguments about what might or might not happen in the future but, certainly, something has to give.
MJAngry on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Well a bit of wood decaying in a forest releases the same amount of CO2 as burning it, so that's good.

Problem is most people buy their kiln dried wood, rather than salvage forestry offcuts from felling sites. Kiln dried wood is hugely wasteful for a potentially eco fuel source.

New log burners, with their DEFRA rating, are really quite efficient, if used correctly (damper, air source etc) and should not really produce much in the way in particulate once up to temperature.
wintertree - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> No I mean actually using it, like washing day on a sunny day, cake making is on a sunny day. Thats ok isn't it?

Ah okay. Yes in theory that's great. With stuff like the forecast.io API and X10 plugs etc it's well within reach of a hobbyist to make all sorts of appliances switch on/off based on the forecast.

In practise laundry and water heating are the only common ones that can be automated for most people.

Other stuff can still be manually shifted but at some inconvenience. In theory fridge/freezers could "boost" to a colder temp during excess renewables and then would "coast" for longer without using power. I'm tempted to modify ours to do this once we go solar, using a capillary thermometer (sold by Bimble Solar), a micro controller and cutting in to either the current thermostatic switches output or the compressor and power cables. Lot of work for a small gain given how good modern fridges are.

Even if you don't have solar or wind yourself you can reduce the carbon intensity of your activities by performing them when renewable output is high.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Toerag - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to MJAngry:

> New log burners, with their DEFRA rating, are really quite efficient, if used correctly (damper, air source etc) and should not really produce much in the way in particulate once up to temperature.

I can't seen any smoke out of my chimney once my stove is going - I only burn air-dried wood as I'm too tight to buy wood. Owning a simple moisture meter is very useful
Toerag - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Clint86:

> No I mean actually using it, like washing day on a sunny day, cake making is on a sunny day. Thats ok isn't it?

Yes. The general idea is that you install just enough PV to cover your base load and no more, because the price you get for exported power may change in the future thus scuppering your payback.
I've held back from installing solar because yy base load consists of a fridge/freezer, and a fridge - too small a load to warrant the install cost and hassle. Water heating is done directly (no storage) by a reasonably new boiler. When my roof needs replacing I might go for PV though - living in the sunniest place in the UK gives an 8 year payback for a domestic system at current costs / tariffs apparently.
Toerag - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

The best way to improve carbon footprint is to reduce the consumption of things that require movement or heat because that is the major user of energy. So, in terms of vegetables for example, there's no point in swapping Spanish tomatoes for UK ones in May because the UK ones will have been grown in greenhouses lit and heated with fossil fuels. You're only going to improve your footprint by not eating toms until you can buy them in season.
Improving your house insulation is about the best thing you can do if you live in the UK.
Clint86 - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

In my experience, in a well insulated lounge, we can burn the fire hot for short periods of time very effectively, and have an evenings worth of heat. We have had good sources of local wood, air dried. My feeling is that on this basis its okay. Otherwise it would be a stand alone gas fire.
Oldsign on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to iusedtoclimb:

Couldn't afford a solar installation/home battery so went with Ovo ( there's Ecotricity too) so that all our electricity comes from renewables.

Couldn't afford an electric car so I cycle whenever possible.

Put on a jumper if I'm cold. Turn of lights and appliances in empty rooms. Shut doors. Basically started turning into my dad...
The New NickB - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

Just read my post again. We have gone from two cars to one, not the reverse as originally suggested. Which may account for the dislike.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.