PROJECT: How we can reduce carbon emissions at home

Wide verandah, shade trees, louvres Photography John Couper
What makes this venue so appealing? You could have it at home and save on energy costs: wide verandahs, shade trees, louvres…  Photography John Couper

We hear much about how climate change has adverse effects on the sustainability of the Earth’s ecosystems, but many people are unaware of what ecosystems actually are and why they are so important.  Ecosystems are communities of living organisms (diverse organisms, plants and animals) within a particular area that interact with each other and their environment (sun, soil, weather, water, air).



Explore your surroundings - indoors and outdoors - with the family and how you impact on the environment and the ecosystem services

The services and benefits these ecosystems provide are the benefits that we obtain from nature. These include:
the direct provision of material goods, such as food, fuel and fiber;
the regulation of undesired events, such as climate change and flooding and;
many non-material benefits, such as sense of identity or aesthetic enjoyment.
In other words, climate change affects all living things, with potentially serious impacts on agriculture and the world economy.

There is a clear need for human societies to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Building regulations around Australia are updated in order to raise the energy standards of both new-build and refurbished properties however, more technological improvements are still needed in building standards, heating systems, lighting and domestic appliances. Energy usage by domestic appliances can be reduced by increasing the number of A-rated (4 or 5 star) appliances in your home and by changing your behaviour. Are you aware of how much energy you and members of your household are wasting and are paying for due to the lack of awareness and reluctance to change your behaviour to reduce or prevent unnecessary energy use?
Some Methods to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Your Refurbished House
New, modern and smaller properties are more energy-efficient. If you are refurbishing an existing house, it is likely that 75% of emissions from this older house are resulting from space heating and cooling and water heating, so investigate the installation of A-rated systems for those purposes. For cooling, install windows that open and/or louvres for good cross ventilation (more on cooling later). Improved insulation also keeps the house cool – thereby reducing the amount of cooling required and with it the level of emissions
About one third of heat loss in your house occurs through walls. Another quarter is lost through roofs and the remainder through windows, floors and poor insulation of windows and window frames. Improved insulation can reduce the amount of heat loss from the house – thereby reducing the amount of heat initially required, and with it the level of emissions from the house.
Low-Carbon New-Build Housing
It is now possible to design and construct low-carbon houses that provide comfortable living conditions year round, yet produce little or no CO₂ during construction or after completion. Discuss the use of efficient components and whole-house ventilation systems with your designer and builder in order to achieve low running costs.
Household Questionnaire
The following brief questionnaire for your household will enable you to explore with members of your household each participants’ awareness of various aspects of the global warming issue as it relates to housing carbon emissions and decide on what measures need to be taken in your home to improve awareness and change behaviours and attitudes.

Household Questionnaire

1. Global Warming
(a) How aware are you of the effects of global warming?
Very aware Aware Not Sure Unaware Very unaware
(b) Do you feel you can help the fight against global warming from your house?
Yes No
2. Housing Carbon Emissions
(a) Are you aware of the carbon emitted from homes in general?
Very aware Aware Not Sure Unaware Very unaware
(b) How active are you in making an effort to reduce carbon emissions in your home?
Very active Active Somewhat Active Inactive
(c) What year was your house/apartment built?
(d) Has any refurbishment been undertaken in the last 2 years? (e.g. new heating, insulation etc)
(e) What energy-saving products do you have and use in the house?
(f) If you do not use any energy-saving products in the house, why not?
(g) Do you have any renewable energy-generating technology in your house?
(h) What are the primary heating and cooling sources in your house?
(i) What type of insulation do you have in your house? (e.g. double glazing; under floor; ceiling etc)
(j) Are you aware of the continual energy use of standby switches e.g. on your TV, computer etc
(k) On hot days, do you ever choose to open the windows or sit outdoors in the shade rather than turn on the air-conditioning?

Jan Couper M.Ed.;M.Env.

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