September 2, 2009 / 12:20 PM / 9 years ago

FACTBOX: Impacts, savings from cutting UK energy use

LONDON (Reuters) - Over 40 percent of Britain’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change, come from the energy we use at home and in traveling.

As politicians gear up for more climate change talks later this month in New York, changing people’s attitudes toward energy consumption could be key in reducing emissions.

The average British home emits around five and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, twice the amount of a car.

Homes could save 1.5 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 300 pounds a year, by insulating, improving their heating system and being energy efficient. Businesses could save over 2.5 billion pounds a year through carbon reduction measures, such as replacing oil boilers or installing new lighting.

The impacts of energy consumption in Britain and some potential savings are set out below.


Leaving appliances and gadgets on standby wastes as much electricity as the annual output of two 700 megawatt power stations.

We waste over 600,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, equal to 170 million pounds, by leaving lights on unnecessarily.

Over 700,000 tonnes a year of CO2 is wasted by people overfilling their kettles. If people boiled only the water needed each time, we could save enough electricity in a year to run Britain’s street lighting for nearly 7 months.

Britain could save 180 mega liters of water a day - enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes, by turning taps off while brushing teeth.

If we stopped wasting food which could have been eaten, we could save 18 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of taking one in five cars off our roads.

If everyone reduced their thermostat by one degree centigrade we could save 5.5 million tonnes of CO2, the same reduction as taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

Installing cavity wall insulation could cut CO2 by nearly 4 million tonnes. That’s enough to fill Wembley stadium 500 times.

Drying clothes outside in the summer, rather than using tumble driers, would save as much CO2 as taking 240,000 cars off the roads.

Upgrading fridges and freezers to energy saving recommended products could save over 700 million pounds of electricity every year. This could power UK street lighting for three years.


Air conditioning can increase a building’ energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 100 percent.

Switching off lights in corridors and rooms not being used could cut lighting costs by 15 percent.

A seven-day timer on shared equipment such as printers, vending machines and water coolers could save up to 70 percent on energy costs.

A single computer and monitor left on for 24 hours a day could cost over 50 pounds a year. Switching it off out of hours could reduce this to 15 pounds. Upgrading IT can bring substantial CO2 reductions.

Maintaining boilers regularly could save firms 10 percent on annual heating costs.

Sources: Energy Saving Trust, The Carbon Trust

Reporting by Nina Chestney

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