Chiswick Families Cut CO2 Emissions By 20%

And reduce energy use by 30% in ‘Green Streets’ challenge

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Chiswick families have shown how it's possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% in just five months. Green Streets, the country’s biggest ever energy saving challenge, has shown how residents of Green End Road have also cut the street's energy use by up to 30%, with some households achieving savings on gas of more than 50%.

Green Streets, organised by British Gas, is a year-long social experiment in energy saving, monitored and analysed by the Institute of Public Policy Research (ippr).

Participating families on eight streets in eight cities were given a budget of £30,000 per street to spend on energy efficiency measures, with advice from British Gas energy experts. The street which reduces its energy usage and CO2 emissions the most over a year will win £50,000 to spend on making a community building more energy efficient.

From the beginning of the year, participants have achieved energy savings and CO2 reductions based on a mix of using energy efficient equipment (from boilers, to insulation, to solar panels), and simple behavioural changes including:

– Turning off lights
– Not leaving appliances on standby
– Not using a tumble drier
– Washing clothes at lower temperatures
– Using a dishwasher instead of washing up in the sink
– Fewer baths
– Not overfilling kettles
– Using and turning down thermostats
– Using thermostatic radiator valves to heat only rooms
– Turning down the hot water temperature boiler setting in summer
– Turning off the oven early and using the remaining heat to complete the cooking
– Washing hair early in the evening to allow it to dry naturally and not use a hair dryer
– Eating by candlelight

The ippr estimate that if these changes were replicated across the UK, households could cuts bills of £23bn by £4.6bn. Domestic energy usage currently accounts for 28% of the UK's total CO2 emissions, while £1 in every £3 we spend heating our homes is wasted due to poor insulation.

Phil Bentley, Managing Director, British Gas, commented, "The UK now buys energy on the world market and competes toe to toe with countries prepared to pay higher prices than we've seen before. Reducing energy consumption is the single most important thing households can do to reduce bills and cut emissions. With British Gas' advice and assistance, Green Streets households have saved up to 30% on their energy use in just five months. The challenge for everyone is to see if they can do the same, and this report shows what we can all achieve."

The ippr found that:

- Some highly motivated households nearly halved their energy use;
- Behaviour change can be as important as new equipment - one London household reduced its gas use by 45% while only installing simple loft insulation and thermostatic heating controls;
- Green Streets has had a positive impact on community spirit and neighbourliness, bringing together neighbours who hadn't met before and creating both peer pressure and support to maintain energy efficient behaviour.

July 24, 2008