There are many pain-free, simple, and cheap ways to save energy and reduce your environmental impact – Friends of the Earth produce a list of suggestions on their website, for example. As well as helping reduce climate change, waste, and pollution, you can also save money and improve your health.
One of the simplest and easiest things you can do to have a large impact is to switch your electricity to a renewable energy tariff. This will mean that, for every unit of electricity you use, the same quantity will be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro-electric.
Many of the “big names” offer renewable energy tariffs, so you may not even have to change provider. Many also supply gas as well as electricity, so you can continue to get “dual-fuel” discounts.
Examples of tariffs provided by electricity supplies – this is by no means an exhaustive list, and not all the tariffs are equivalent – include:
nPower’s “Juice” tariff.
Powergen’s “Greenplan” tariff.
Scottish & Southern Energy’s “RSPB”, “Green Energy H20” tariffs.
SEEBOARD Energy’s “Greenlight” tariff.
SWEB’s “Green” tariff.
You can compare the prices of these, and their environmental credentials, by visiting their websites or through a business energy comparison service.
There are many ways in which you can save energy, and money, around your home. Using low-energy lightbulbs, ensuring you have plenty of insulation, using your heating and hot water controls effectively, and turning things off when they’re not in use are just a few.
There are many websites giving good ideas and details of how to get grants for home improvements. For example, the Energy Saving Trust offer some cheap and simple energy saving tips and advice on what you can do today.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We are very fortunate in Girton to have a doorstep recycling scheme, as well as plastic bottle recycling available at the Pavilion, so please make sure you are using these facilities.
Even better than recycling rubbish is to reduce the amount of rubbish you generate in the first place, or reuse it: for example, plastic carrier bags can be reused many times, or avoided altogether if you have your own bag with you. (And when your plastic bags have reached the end of their lives, they can be recycled at Tesco’s.)
For ideas and information about how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle your rubbish, take a look at theRecycling Consortium’s website. Many of the schemes currently being run by Sustainable Girton can help you do this.
Again, in Girton, we are very fortunate to have access to public transport. There are a number of buses running both through the village, and past the end of the village along Huntingdon Road. Details of the bus services can be obtained from the websites of the operators. For example, there is a map of the Citi services run by Stagecoach, and their timetables. Huntingdon & District and Whippet Coaches also run services along Huntingdon Road, so during the day there should be one every few minutes.
We also benefit from a relatively flat landscape, and so cycling is an option for many people. If you’re interested in cycling more, you can get information and advice from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign or from one the many local cycle shops such as Chris’s Bikes on Thornton Way.
For short journeys around Girton, walking may also be a healthy and sociable alternative to driving.
Generate your own!
For the more ambitious among you, you may like to consider generating your own renewable energy. There are a number of different ways of doing this. One of the most popular is solar water heating. This involves putting solar panels on part of your roof, and the heat from the sun is used to warm your hot water.
Some manufacturers are starting to offer domestic, roof-mounted wind turbines. These plug into your mains supply and generate a few kilowatts of electricity when the wind is blowing. Any electricity that you don’t use can be sold back to the national grid, saving you even more money.
The Fenhurst Society have a well thought out and easy to read article describing practical ways to reduce your impact
David Mackay (a Girton resident) has produced a no-nonsense book “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” available free online.