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June 2024
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‘B’ happy


Few things in life are as good as enjoying time with friends, catching up on what’s been going on, and getting to enjoy the world going by your back garden.

Oh, yeah?

Yes. It’s well known that humans are gregarious and after the past couple of years, it’s great when old traditions start up again, like the Ipswich to Felixstowe classic car run, held on the Sunday of the first bank holiday in May.


This year is unusual as we only have one in May, but seeing classic cars, lorries, buses, motorcycles, hearses, etc, drive by your backgarden wasn’t something we had considered a tangible benefit, but it’s a great excuse to have a barbeque. Albeit, sometimes in the rain – this year, my husband, Jon, bravely manned the grill while the rest of us sheltered in the warm and dry kitchen…

A big thank you to our friends, one came all the way to Ipswich from Hemel Hemsted which is no mean feat, and my mum came down from North Norfolk. Some came all the way from the destination, which I always feel a little mean about. One friend brought their classic Spitfire and all brought food and drink to share. We all got to ooh and aah over the classic vehicles driving past the house.

I don’t get what this has to do with the title?

Hold your horses, I’m getting round to that. It may not seem obvious why I’m talking about a classic vehicle run as a means for getting people together while talking about carbon footprints and being happy with a B. Doesn’t everyone want an A, after-all?

Internal combustion cars are responsible for a fair bit of the carbon dioxide produced each year. Even car production has a significant footprint, nearly 0.42 tonnes a year per person. Yet, the car has allowed people to flourish in many areas, to travel for pleasure and business and allowed the young and the old to travel with very little hinderance across the UK and beyond.

To ensure we (and everyone else across the world) retain this capability, we have moved to reduce our carbon footprint in other areas and I am proud to say, our recent energy performance certificate (EPC) assessment rated our home as being grade B.

Any houses sold in the UK need to have an EPC performed so prospective owners can see how much CO2 their future houses would generate. This is critical to the UK reducing its carbon footprint down to net zero and help the world reduce global warming.

Now, a B is OK, it means our home produces 2.8 tonnes of CO2 per annum through heating it and its inhabitants and in providing light and cooking. It’s a theoretical minimum and what we should be aiming to achieve. When we bought the house 9 years ago, it’s rating was a C and it’s theoretical footprint was 4.9 tonnes a year.

The average home in the UK produces 6 tonnes of CO2 per annum – there are 62 million dwellings in the UK, so that is a whopping 372,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

If everyone achieved a B – which should be achievable for most homes, that would come down to 173,600,000 tonnes a year. A big difference.

Now, we’ve managed that reduction while keeping a gas boiler. Insulation means despite having a house three times the size of the average house in the UK, our gas bill is about a third of what is normally spent by most house-holds. Only heating rooms we need and frost protecting the rest means we don’t damage our health but ensure our bills and carbon production are as low as possible. We’re comfortable but aren’t spending a fortune and most of what we’ve done is achievable by all.

Yeah, I bet!

Truly. For a three bed-semi, with 6 radiators and one room thermostat can do this for around £375 – that’s a sizable amount of money but with gas and electricity prices likely to get bigger over the 12 months (and beyond), a worthwhile investment. The average gas bill is £900 per annum at the moment, so that’s more than a third to save any amount off this bill. That’s a tough reach for many.

Insulation between floors and even insulating garage doors if you have rooms above them can make a huge difference. If you have removable floor boards upstairs, this is not an easy or pleasant job, but can make a huge difference. The cost would typically be £100 or so, if you can do it yourself.

Simple steps like wearing a jumper indoors, sharing a room with each other while awake or even cuddling up with an extra blanket can keep you warm without having to heat the room to more than 18C. In the 1960s, the average room in the UK was 12C over winter, now it’s over 18C – but many keep rooms significantly above this comfortable level all the time.

If we’re not in a room, we keep the temperature around 16C to prevent mold and damp.

Lag pipes where possible. Having done this during our recent ensuite renovation, we’re not wasting any heat in our pipes and ensuring they are not subject to frost damage.

OK, OK, I get the point. Start saving to start saving for this coming winter.

Absolutely. With the room and smart radiator valves, although it would cost more long term, you can do each room in turn. Ironically, updating the radiator valves in the lowest used rooms might return the biggest savings long term. Our spare room is only heated more than frost protection when someone stays over, for example. Do the most occupied rooms last. That’s the approach we’ve taken downstairs, for example and from day one, we’ve saved 10% as a minimum each month (18.9% as a max).

Every little step you can make helps us all achieve what we need to in order to save the planet.

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