What does net zero mean for you?

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Net zero is the government’s plan to fight climate change.

You can help by reducing the amount of energy you use. You can save energy:

  • when heating your home

  • by understanding how much energy your appliances use and making changes

  • by changing the way you travel

Using less energy could also save you money. For example, setting your washing machine to a lower temperature uses less electricity and could save you money on your energy bill.

It’s okay if your situation means you can’t make big changes to your home or lifestyle. Any change to use less energy is valuable, no matter how small.

Check how net zero helps fight climate change

Climate change is caused by too many greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. These gases trap heat inside the atmosphere which slowly warms the planet.

Greenhouse gases come from many different places. For example, when a vehicle is powered by petrol or diesel, this releases carbon dioxide.

Trees take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It's also possible to remove some greenhouse gases using technology - but it's difficult.

The net zero plan is to reduce the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and increase the amount we’re taking out. This should make them balance out. 

You can help by using less energy or using energy from ‘renewable’ sources.  This is energy from a source that won’t run out, for example, solar.

Your ‘carbon footprint’ is a way to measure how your lifestyle can add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Understanding your carbon footprint will help you make changes to your lifestyle and reduce the amount of energy you use.

Understand how much energy you’re using at home

If you have a smart meter, use your in-home display (IHD) to track how much energy you’re using. Your IHD is a small portable device with a screen that shows your energy use.

You can use the information on your IHD to help you use less energy. Using less energy might also save you money on your energy bill.

If an IHD wasn’t given to you when your smart meter was installed, contact your supplier and ask for one. Tell your supplier if you are disabled and need an accessible IHD. An accessible IHD has added functions, for example, text-to-speech. Check how an accessible IHD can help.

If you’ve lost or broken your IHD, you can try and fix it or get a replacement IHD. Check how to fix or replace your IHD.

If you don’t have a smart meter, ask your supplier to install one for free. If you use gas and electricity you can get a smart gas meter and a smart electricity meter. You’ll get one IHD for both meters. Check how to get a smart meter installed.

Check how much energy your appliances use

You can use less energy by:

  • finding ways to use your appliances less

  • changing the settings on your appliances

By using your appliances in a way that saves electricity, you might also save money on your electricity bill. Check how to save money using your electrical appliances.

You can use our calculator to compare the cost of using different electrical appliances.

If you need to buy or replace an appliance you might want to choose a more energy efficient one. This means it uses less energy and costs less to run. Check what to look for when buying an energy efficient appliance.

Don’t stop using essential appliances

If you’re trying to use less energy, it’s still important to look after your physical and mental health. You should:

  • keep your fridge freezer on to keep food fresh - and for any medication you need to keep cold

  • keep the room you’re in well lit so you can move around safely and reduce the risk of mental health conditions like depression

  • keep your home warm enough so there’s less risk of your home becoming damp and you getting ill

  • keep using any extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen to prevent condensation and mould

Using less energy to heat your home

You might be able to use less energy by making energy efficiency home improvements. These are changes that can be made to your home to reduce the amount of energy you need to keep it warm.

You might be able to:

  • improve your home’s insulation to keep your home warmer for longer

  • add solar panels to generate renewable electricity for your home

  • install a renewable heating system, for example a heat pump or biomass boiler

Check what funding you can get to help pay for energy efficiency home improvements.

Installing a renewable heating system

Renewable heating systems are better for the environment because they don’t burn fossil fuels. 

It can be expensive to install a renewable heating system, but there are government schemes which might be able to help you pay. 

It can also take time to install a renewable heating system. You might have to make other improvements to your home, for example installing insulation or replacing pipes and radiators.

If you can’t install a renewable heating system

You might be able to improve your home’s existing heating system. For example, if you need to replace an old gas boiler, a new gas boiler should be more energy efficient.

You can also install new heating controls so you can easily change when your heating system is on. For example, you can get a smart thermostat or radiator valves that can be set for each room. This will make it easier to use less energy.

Small changes to make your home more energy efficient

You can:

  • turn down the temperature on your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting

  • turn down radiators in rooms you use less often

  • block drafts, for example, gaps at the bottom of doors

Check how to save money heating your home.

Change the way you travel

Transport is a big contributor to greenhouse gases, for example, cars that use petrol or diesel release a lot of carbon dioxide. Changing the way you travel can reduce your carbon footprint. For example, you could:

  • use more public transport such as buses or trains

  • share a car with colleagues on your commute

  • use a bike or scooter to travel short distances

If you have a petrol or diesel vehicle, think about changing to a vehicle that’s better for the environment. Electric vehicles (EV) are powered by electricity. Hybrid vehicles are powered by both electricity and petrol or diesel.

EV and hybrid vehicles can have higher upfront costs to buy or lease, but they cost less to run compared to petrol and diesel cars. Check the benefits of getting an electric vehicle on the Energy Saving Trust website.

If you’re feeling anxious about global warming

It’s important to look after your mental health. You should talk to your GP if you’re struggling with your mental health. 

You can find other ways to get help with your mental health on the Mind website.

Check the government plans for net zero and climate change

Find out more about how the government plans to reach net zero and tackle climate change.

The government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is responsible for meeting their net zero plans. Check updates from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The Climate Change Committee is an independent body that tracks the government progress on net zero. You can view the committee's reports on the Climate Change Committee website.

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Page last reviewed on 09 July 2024