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Economy

Unheated Homes May Fall To Unsafe Temperatures This Weekend

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House in the snow

Experts have warned that with arctic blasts expected to sweep across the country, temperatures in millions of UK households could fall to dangerous levels with people fearing high heating bills.

With the mercury set to plummet below zero and snow predicted for large parts of the UK, the Energy Saving Trust has said it has concerns over a study that shows 42 per cent of householders across the country avoid putting the heating on during cold spells due to concerns about high bills.

A study by Public Health England found that indoor temperatures below 18 degrees can have an impact on health, and the Energy Saving Trust is now urging people not to take risks and ensure instead that their homes are able to cope with the conditions.

David Weatherall, head of policy at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “People could be jeopardising their health because they feel they don’t want to face a large bill – but help is available to prevent that situation.

If unheated, the internal temperature of a home can drop quite quickly and, if the heat is left off long enough, indoor temperatures can even match conditions outside.

“The coming cold snap could be putting people at risk – but with more cold weather ahead, we’d urge people, both tenants and homeowners alike, to get in touch with us and find out what help is available.” 

Public Health England’s study revealed that temperatures of 18 degrees pose minimal health risk to a sedentary person wearing suitable clothing. At lower temperatures, negative health effects may occur, such as increases in blood pressure and the risk of blood clots which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Meanwhile, the Energy Saving Trust’s Pulse study of UK household energy habits also found that more than a third of us also find it difficult to keep our homes as warm as we’d like. 

Mr Weatherall said: “Homeowners or renters in receipt of benefits may get some help towards the cost of fitting insulation or a new boiler, so it’s worth checking.

The best place to start is by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or by looking at our website.

“Tenants who have major problems with cold and damp and whose landlord won’t help should contact their local authority housing health and safety team.

“Perhaps the easiest way to make heating your home cheaper is to consider switching energy supplier. Many can save £300, and checking how much you can reduce your bills by only takes a few minutes.

“With the cold weather set to continue for many weeks, acting quickly can mean escaping the worst of the winter chills.”

The Energy Saving Trust says seven simple tips can make your home easier to heat:

  • Draught-proof your home
    Improving seals on windows and doors reduces creeping chills and save you up to £35 per year.
  • Insulate your pipes
    Adding foam insulating tubes to water pipes is a great way to prevent unnecessary heat loss and can save you £10 per year.
  • Upgrade heating controls
    Got no temperature control valves on your radiators? Adding them gives you more power to save – add a thermostat too and you could pocket anything from £75 to £155 per year in extra cash.
  • Get a new boiler
    If your boiler is more than 10 years old, upgrading can significantly reduce your household’s running costs.
  • Top up hot-water cylinder insulation
    A hot water cylinder jacket can cost just £16, but can save you £25 to £35 per year.
  • Top up loft insulation
    Adding an extra layer of insulation to your loft is a quick way to reduce heating bills by £15 per year.
  • Insulate your walls
    Preventing warm air escaping through your walls by insulating your walls can reduce heating bills from £155 to £260 per year depending on your home.

Household efficiency information and advice can be found on the Energy Saving Trust website, on www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/shiver. To contact the Energy Saving Advice Service phone 0300 123 1234.

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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