According to Eurostat, household energy usage represents about a quarter of final energy consumption in Europe. Energy usage leads to carbon emissions and the amount of carbon that we use is related to how clean (renewable energy) or dirty (fossil fuels) the energy grid is (power stations). This can vary quite a lot depending on which country you are based in. Countries that depend mostly on coal and gas will have higher emissions per kWh of energy used, compared to those that predominantly rely on renewable energy such as geothermal.
There are many ways through which we can have control over the energy that we use (e.g. we can use a tariff that uses green energy or decide on the areas of the house where we can reduce our usage) if we want to reduce our impact on the environment. With energy prices rising across Europe it is more important than ever to understand ways through which we can reduce our usage, not only from the sustainability perspective, but also for our pocket. When on a year/ semester abroad, you are likely to be renting, rather than living in an apartment that you own, therefore our advice is going to mostly focus on what you can do as a renter.
Actions you can take
- Make sure you are using your boiler and heating controls correctly and use the programmer to set up the system to match your house needs. If you’re not sure how to use it, ask your landlord. Discuss the best times with everyone in the house and avoid unnecessary heating. Ideally, the thermostat should be set between 18°C and 21°C in cold weather.
- Use central heating rather than portable heaters - in most cases, it is much more energy-efficient and in the majority of cases it will cost you less.
- Prevent draughts to retain heat and make your home warmer. Draught-proofing products are available at DIY stores. Close curtains at dusk to keep the heat in.
- A damp property is hard to heat and can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. Keep your home well ventilated to allow moisture to escape.
- Switch off any appliances (at the plug) and lights when not using them.