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Christmas Will Result In Brits Taking On £6.4 Billon In Debt

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presents by andrew butitta via flickr

Research released by comparethemarket.com has found that millions need their credit cards to fund this year’s Christmas.

The research found that Brits who celebrate Christmas expect to spend £640 on average over the festive season. Over a fifth (22%) anticipate that they will pay for the majority of their expenses by credit card, suggesting that those that celebrate Christmas are set to take on a net debt of £6.4 billion nationwide this season*.

The cost of energy is of particular concern to households this Christmas. With more energy used on TVs and gadgets, cooking, Christmas lights and central heating, four in ten Brits celebrating Christmas (39%) imagine that their household energy bill post-Christmas will be more expensive than their bill before Christmas, and anticipate an increase of nearly £55. This equates to a £960 million additional energy spend nationwide. Further to this, a quarter of people intend to ration their energy use over Christmas to try and keep energy bills low.

In fact, fixed energy tariffs have risen by £100 on average over the last month**, suggesting households could be in for a post-Christmas bill shock – a worrying statistic given that 42% said they would be concerned about the impact an energy bill hike would have on their finances.

The findings echo the Bank of England’s recent warning that British households are taking on the highest levels of debt in over a decade, with over £190 billion owed on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts – 11% more than a year ago***.

Around 27% of respondents took on debt last year to pay for Christmas expenses and of those, over a fifth (21%) have yet to pay this off in full. It seems like the increase in consumer credit could be set to continue; over a third (35%) expect Christmas to be more expensive this year compared to twelve months ago.

Some families are taking measures to keep costs as low as possible this Christmas.

Over a third of respondents (34%) will try to save money by redeeming reward and loyalty points, a quarter (26%) will be putting on an extra jumper rather than turning up the heating and nearly a fifth (19%) will turn the thermostat down or off completely to save money. Nearly one in ten have sought good deals by shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and a fifth have drawn up a Christmas budget.

comparethemarket.com’s top five tips for a cost-effective Christmas:

• Switching annual car and home insurance saves a family an average of more than £330 a year, whilst switching energy provider saves an average of £327 per year. The combined saving of over £650 could offset the total expected cost of Christmas.

• Monitor energy usage carefully to ensure you’re using energy in the most efficient way (using devices like Loop can help you).

• Turn off devices which aren’t in use. TVs, radios and other electronic devices use energy even when on standby so make sure they are unplugged and enjoy the energy savings.

• Put your Christmas tree lights on a timer so they turn on when it grows dark and off when you go to bed. You could also invest in fibre-optic lights which are far more energy efficient.

• Make sure your finances offer you decent benefits; some credit card providers offer 0% interest credit cards for up to 48 months (administration fees apply).

Peter Earl, Head of Energy at comparethemarket.com, said:

“The cost of Christmas is set to fuel a credit binge across Britain this year. With the stress of present buying and finding the perfect turkey, many people forget that energy can be a significant cost at Christmas. Whether you are turning up the thermostat to keep granny warm or plugging in the latest electronic gadget, energy use can rise quickly.

“There are lots of ways to be energy efficient at Christmas, such as using smart meters to monitor usage or turning off devices which aren’t in use. Changing energy provider can save households on average £327 a year, but our research shows that only 6% of people plan to switch or have recently switched to save money this Christmas. Indeed, switching your energy provider alone would save a family, on average, more than half of their total expected Christmas expenditure.”

Features

The World’s Top Cities for Owning a Green Home

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Demand for green homes has risen sharply in recent years. Dodge Data & Analytics’ SmartMarket Report stated that over half of homebuilders project that 60% or more of the homes they build will be green within the next three years.

While the outlook for green home is surging throughout the world, growth is far from uniform. The outlook in some cities remains much stronger than others. Here are some of the best cities in the world for building or buying a green home.

Vancouver

Vancouver has a population of nearly 650,000 people. It has a surprisingly low levels of pollution for a city its size. According to research from Siemens, air quality is significantly better than most other communities of the same size. The city government has expressed a desire to improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions even further. They expect to cut air pollution by 30% by 2020. Many people in the community have green homes and the government is likely to offer new incentives for green homes in the future.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is rated as the best city in the United States to own a green home. Within a 12-month period, over one in three homes that were sold were environmentally friendly. Demand for green homes in Philadelphia is higher than other homes. The average green home costs 45% more than homes that lack green features.

Elliot Springs

Australia has begun making substantial progress on the green energy front in recent years. According to one company that offers house and land for sale near Townsville, a growing number of houses are built around sustainability.

Curitiba

Brazil is not known for its commitment to green energy. The city of Curitiba is an exception. Despite being surrounded by communities that lack its vision of a green renaissance, the Siemens report shows that the city is outperforming the global green living index.

Some indexes rank the city even higher. Grist ranks it as the third greenest city on earth.

“As a whole, the green urban areas in Curitiba are among the largest in the world and every inhabitant of the city has approximately 52 m² of nature to romp about in. Brazil’s green capital makes a tremendous effort to preserve the city’s natural environment and is regarded by many as one of the world’s best examples of green urban planning.”

Boston

When most people picture Boston, they usually envision a city filled with smog. This stereotype arises among people that have visited the city off and on over the last 50 years. However, it has made tremendous progress over the past decade and has started to become one of the greenest cities in the United States.

The changes are being driven in Fenway. This is one of the least developed areas of the city, so most new construction is focused on creating green building structures. Older parts of the city have existing housing, which is often decades old. After these buildings need to be replaced, the city will try to focus on green initiatives. This will help the city receive even more attention as a green city.

Copenhagen

Denmark as a whole is an incredibly green country. Few people own cars and homes are minimalistic, which reduces CO2 emissions. Copenhagen leads the charge in the country’s commitment to green living, so it is rated as the cleanest city in all of Europe.

Copenhagen hasn’t needed to make nearly as much effort to earn this title as most other cities, largely due to the culture that rejects decadence and embraces sustainability. Citizens have coordinated with the government to boost green living, but most of these conditions are driven by free market ideals. They haven’t needed to rely nearly as extensively on central planning as San Francisco and other Western cities.

Cultural Nodes Are Driving the Green Housing Market

Some of the largest cities in the world are embracing a cosmopolitan view that encourages green living. This is propelling demand for green housing in their areas and the rest of the world. People that want to buy a green home should consider investing in one of these areas.

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Energy

China Unexpectedly Emerging as Global Leader in Green Technology

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green technology

In the late 20th century, China underwent an amazing industrial revolution. However, in the process, it produced far more pollution, which raised concerns about global warming. The United Nations Environmental Council placed a lot of pressure on China to reduce its carbon footprint. It is clearly making headway now and may actually be a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.

China is Taking Environmental Concerns More Seriously than Ever Before

In recent years, China has made tremendous progress. In 2014, the World Bank praised the Chinese government for integrating forest development, biodiversity conservation and carbon reduction strategies. According to the World Bank analysis, china increased its forest cover by nearly 50% between the late 1980s and 2005. While analysts stated that those levels were still significantly below the global average, they stated that China is clearly headed in the right direction.

“China has long been a forest-poor country. Though its forest cover increased from 13 percent in the 1980s to 18.2 percent by 2005 thanks to an extensive plantations program, the hectare per capita of 0.13 remained significantly below the world average of 0.6.  With rapid economic growth, China’s forests came under intense pressure due to the growing demand for timber and pulpwood. The logging ban introduced by the government in 1998 further aggravated the wood shortage. This challenge was more acute in Guangxi, where combined with weak forest resources protection  resulted in a threat to its unique biodiversity including one of the largest and most important representatives of karst ecosystem in the world.”

The government’s policies to improve forest area and reduce carbon emissions are highly encouraging, but their new focus on green energy is even more impressive. In May, Premier Li Keqiang announced that the country is tapering steel production and relying less on coal-powered electricity. They have made substantial investments in wind and energy power, which are beginning to make a difference all over the world. They are also investing more heavily in solar. In fact, they developed the world’s largest floating solar plant.

Many environmental experts feel that the country has gone from being one of the worst contributors to climate change to a shining role model in the quest to save the environment.

What drove China to make these changes? The biggest incentive was the need to save it so when people from pollution. National Geographic reports that approximately 1.1 million people die from air pollution in China every year. The government needed to institute massive changes to reverse this epidemic.

Additional progress it is still needed

Nations around the world should applaud China for making such revolutionary changes to save its own citizens in the rest of the world. However, the country still needs to implement more changes to set itself on the right track.

The government has passed a number of regulations to improve air quality. However, many businesses have been reluctant to follow them.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection surveyed nearly 20,000 companies across northern China. They found that 70% of those companies or nearly 14,000 failed to meet environmental standards.

Some of the violations were fairly benign and easy to rectify. Others were far more severe. According to the report, which was published on a state new site, nearly 5,000 companies were operating in on off the rise locations or fail to secure the right environmental permits. The ministry of environmental protection states that stricter enforcement is necessary.

Despite the fact there are still areas for improvement, China is still headed in the right direction. It simply needs to examine some of the ongoing challenges and find new ways to save money.

China May Lead the World in the Fight Against Climate Change

Li Keqiang and other Chinese officials are taking environmental concerns far more seriously than their predecessors. The country is expected to roll out new policies in the future and may be one of the global leaders in the fight against climate change.

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