The University of Oxford is helping
households both reduce their energy bills and reduce the CO2 needed
to generate their energy, by as much as 80%. Oxford revealed the
framework of the plan to the public, and it is already creating much excitement
Central to the plan are Oxford's suggestions of government financial incentives
for homeowners and higher efficiency standards on household appliances.
Brenda Boardman, a senior research fellow at Oxford University, authored the
report and points that homeowners choosing to adopt the plan wouldn't just be
acting altruistically -- they would be saving £425 each year -- enough say, buy
that new iPhone, pick up a PS3, or snag
a couple of Wiis (if you could find any!).
DailyTech recently reported that UK legislators had adopted the
ambitious drive for emissions to be cut by 60% of 1990 levels by
2050. Oxford's plan is even more ambitious. Ms. Boardman states,
"The bill calls for at least a 60% reduction, which is great, but this
report shows that you can get an 80% cut in the domestic sector by 2050."
The UK government has stated its intention of making every new home zero-carbon
emissions by 2016, even promising to possibly ban energy-hungry plasma TVs. However, even
if this is accomplished, Boardman points out, in 2050 over 80% of people will
be living in homes in homes that had already been built, so the need for reform
in existing housing is essential.
Ms. Boardman went on to state that if the government wants any hope of reaching
its emissions goals, then changing and modernizing home usage was an essential
step. She explains, "It is crucial because it is large. Depending on
what year's measurements you use, it accounts for about 25-27% of all the UK's
The precise details of the plan are as follows:
interview with BBC News, Ms. Boardman explained the practicality of the
plan, saying, "The technologies are already there. People know about
cavity wall insulation, double glazing and more efficient boilers and
lighting. We are trying to give a framework to government policy so
everybody will realize this is important and what we have to do in our homes to
help with climate change mitigation."
One promising idea discussed in the report is micro generation. The
concept, which can be applied equally well to businesses and large homes
involves using small electric generators and heaters, typically combined to
local power and heat production and take stress of the power and gas
grids. By making the production local, energy use can be cut nearly 20%.
Carbon Trust, an environmental analyst has done a study on currently implementations
and after exhaustive research feels that there is definitive evidence that this
local production delivers tremendous benefits. Their representative
stated, "Our analysis of more than 30,000 days worth of data shows that
micro CHP can deliver significant CO2 savings for small businesses and certain
types of housing. However, if the market for this exciting technology is to
develop, it needs a policy framework which provides appropriate incentives to
target applications which offer worthwhile carbon savings."
A recent study showed the majority of people worldwide were willing to make lifestyle changes to help the
environment -- so Oxford's plan just might work. While Britain's
emissions goals seem lofty, perhaps with Oxford University's plan, the nation
will have a shot of reaching them, and even put a few dollars back into
homeowners' pockets in the process.
Ms. Boardman's main study
can be viewed here (PDF) and an additional paper by her released
this year on energy efficiency and emissions achievability can be viewed here (PDF).