At the close of 2019, West Monkton Parish Council made a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’ declaration, pledging to work towards making the parish more carbon neutral by 2030, with a forward look to a zero-carbon future. This commitment includes continuing to work closely with parishioners and partners across the parish, district and county to deliver this new goal.
For 2021, West Monkton Parish Council are delighted to be launching a Climate Communications Project alongside the Centre for Sustainable Energy – aimed at sharing information, tips and advice on ways we can all take steps to become more eco aware, and encourage local actions that are both eco and climate-friendly, and which will help us protect our environment for future generations.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy is an independent national charity on a mission to share their knowledge and practical experience to empower people to change the way they think and act about energy. At any one time the CSE have around 60 different and separately-funded projects underway. All of these are helping people and communities to meet real needs for both environmentally sound and affordable energy services. You can find out more about the CSE here: https://www.cse.org.uk/
This dedicated Climate Change page will feature regular articles on topics where we all have opportunities to make a difference, as well as showcasing the efforts of parishioners to ‘make green normal’.
We will also be sharing content on our West Monkton Parish Council Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/westmonktonparishcouncil and in the Village News Magazine.
As 2021 develops, and in-person activities can recommence, we will also be looking at opportunities for residents and local businesses and organisations to come together to support green initiatives and to make a real and lasting difference.
If you have any ideas to share, or examples of what you are doing to reduce negative impact on the environment and to be more climate-friendly, we would love to hear from you.
Reducing food waste – did you know that 70% of food waste in the UK comes from individual homes?
Food can bring us comfort, help us come together and cooking can benefit our mental health and wellbeing, so why do we waste so much of it? We may not think directly about how the food we waste in our homes impacts the planet, but with 70% of food waste in the UK coming from individual homes we can all make a difference.
If everyone in the UK stopped wasting food at home for just one day, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gasses as planting half a million trees. There are plenty of simple ways which can help you to reduce your carbon footprint by shrinking your food waste.
Tips for reducing food waste:
- Batch cooking is a great way to use up anything you have taking up space at the back of the fridge. You can use this extra time at home to try out some new recipes! Charity love food hate waste have some fantastic resources, including a leftover recipe guide full of inspiration for tasty dishes you could make with food you might otherwise throw away. lovefoodhatewaste.com
- Growing your own food can be a fantastic way to cut down on food waste as you can share your extra produce with a neighbour or friend. If you would like to give back to your community and have surplus food on your allotment, Foodshare encourages growers to donate fresh produce to local charities who feed people, for example hospices, care homes and homeless shelters. You can register with them to see the charities that are looking for donations in your local area. foodshare.org.uk/grow-your-own
- When doing your weekly food shop there are simple ways you can shop smarter saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint! Choosing the food with the longest use by date, choosing wonky fruit and veg in supermarkets where it is available and creating a shopping list to ensure that you only buy the food you will use. Shopping in this way could save you on average £700 a year!
- If you do end up with extra non-perishable food items you could donate them to your local food bank. Our local supermarkets accept donations for both the Taunton Food Bank https://taunton.foodbank.org.uk/ and Taunton Open Door tauntonopendoor.org.uk/
Whether it’s the choices you make in the supermarket, deciding to grow your own food or cooking extra food to put in the freezer. Small steps can make a big difference!
In this article we are sharing ideas and links around how we can prevent energy loss in our homes – reducing both bills and our carbon footprint at the same time. In our parish we have homes of all sizes and ages, but it’s not just older homes that can benefit from these ideas! There are also financial grants available to help us take action to reduce the amount of energy we use at home. So why is focusing on energy loss important?
Energy use in our homes accounts for about 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and heating alone makes a staggering 10% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Home heating is by far the biggest single source of individual energy consumption in the UK. Of all the energy consumed by the average UK resident over the course of a year, more than 50% will be used just to heat their home* By reducing the amount of warm air that escapes from buildings (and therefore the energy needed to heat our homes), insulation is therefore one of the quickest and most effective ways to cut down energy usage. A well-insulated house will typically require only 60% of the energy needed to heat a property of similar size with poor insulation.
Insulation is only cost-effective if you can get a grant
Not true! Whilst there are schemes that can help to fund certain home insulation measures, it is also cost-effective to fund most yourself. This is because the initial cost of installation is recovered through savings on your energy bill. Check here to find out more about the average initial cost and annual savings for different home insulation options.
Tip: But it’s not all about the costs, insulation can add value to your home, as well as make it comfortable for you to live in, and whoever lives in it in the future (might be family’s children!). The reason to spend money on improving the energy efficiency of your home goes beyond the “return on investment” argument – it’s something that will improve the feel and look of your home, as well as add value to the property, and can help alleviate any health impacts of living in a cold and uninsulated home. People do not like waste – it also helps people not to waste energy!
The stuff in my loft is acting as insulation – I don’t need any more
Boxes, packing cases and unused furniture in your loft are not helping to insulate your home. And if they’re squashing your insulation down they’re probably doing the opposite as standard loft insulation works best if it is able to trap lots of air. If you want to store things in the loft, set aside an area next to the hatch, add insulation only to the level of the joists and then put insulated loft board across the joists to place your items on. The rest of your loft should be insulated to a depth of 270mm (10.5 inches).
My house is old and there is no cavity in the walls so I can’t get them insulated
There are actually several ways of insulating walls that don’t have a cavity. You can insulate the outside or the inside of the house. If you own the house, you might even be able to get a grant to help fund this through a scheme called the Energy Company Obligation if you are on a low-income, or through the Green Homes Grant.
Getting double-glazing is the best thing I can do to keep the heat in
People often think that windows are a major problem because they can be draughty and cold draughts are very noticeable. It’s true that double glazing is much better at keeping heat in than single glazing. But, out of the heat you lose from your home, you actually lose about 35% through the walls, about 25% through the roof, and only about 10% through the windows. So getting your loft and walls insulated will make a much bigger difference, and it’s also likely to be far cheaper than getting double glazing. We’re not saying that double glazing is a waste of money, but it’s better to make sure you’ve insulated the loft and walls first.
My home was built recently, so I know it’s already fully-insulated
Whilst it’s certainly true that homes built within the last 30 years are usually finished to a higher standard of energy efficiency than older properties, this is no guarantee that there isn’t further work to be done. The vast majority of homes, no matter how modern, can have their insulation improved in at least one or two ways. To double-check, its worth taking a look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your home. An up-to-date EPC should have been provided to you whenever you moved into the property, but if you don’t have one to hand, you can try searching for it on the EPC register. There might be one or two small insulation improvements you can make; there might be some unsuspected bigger ones.
You need to get planning permission before getting any solid wall insulation
In most cases, no planning permission is required to insulate the outside or inside of a solid wall property. Internal solid wall insulation will only impact the inside of your property, so you will never require planning permission to undergo this work. As for external solid wall insulation, it is now considered an ‘improvement’ to a property rather than an ‘extension’, so you are likely to only need planning permission if the property is listed, or situated in a protected area.
Cavity wall insulation will make my house damp. The cavity is there to let the wall breathe.
For most people, this isn’t true. Cavity wall insulation is much more likely to solve problems of damp caused by condensation because it makes your walls less cold so less prone to damp. For a few houses that are right on the coast or face persistent driving rain, the empty cavity can provide some protection from damp getting in from outside. This might also be the case if there are cracks or damage in your outer wall. But for the vast majority of people it is well worth getting cavity wall insulation as it will have a big impact on keeping your home warm and reducing your heating bills.
I’ve heard horror stories about cowboy insulation installers! I can’t be sure they won’t rip me off or do a shoddy job.
Check any prospective installer is included on the Registry of Installers managed by the National Insulation Association (NIA). This is a guarantee of quality.
Draught-proofing is not worth the hassle
Not true! Draughtproofing – sealing small gaps in the envelope of a building, typically around doors, windows, walls and floorboards – is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home. Did you know that a door with a gap of 3mm will let in as much cold air as a hole in the wall the size of a brick? What’s more, most draughtproofing measures can be completed yourself using a bit of DIY.
And finally – the benefits of home heating efficiency are not just the impact on the environment and the pocket:
• Reduces health costs to the NHS and winter deaths associated with cold homes
• Adds value to your home for when you sell it
• If your family will inherit your home – they will inherit a more comfortable home which is better for their heath and cheaper to heat.
• Better quality working spaces can support greater productivity – especially important as we work from home more.
*Committee on Climate Change