Manage your greenhouse gas emissions
Westpac NZ, our first CEMARS certified client, in their 4 star Green Star rated building in Auckland
Making a commitment to manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source is the most important aspect of the programme. The carboNZero programme provides guidance on the investigation and documentation of emissions and helps determine the most appropriate reduction options. Reducing emissions is a win-win for business and the environment. It brings about cost savings and reduces the number of offsets required to mitigate your remaining emissions.
The information and tips provided below are mainly for individuals, but many are useful to organisations and events. Additionally, we provide information tailored to your needs as you go through the process for carboNZero certification.
There are many simple, low- or no-cost ways to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Check the tips to find out how you can reduce emissions from transport, home energy-use, and waste. If you're really keen there are some more challenging actions you can take to change the way you live your
Remember – saving energy also saves you money and contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of achieving carboNZero certification. It is extremely important to try and reduce emissions as much as possible before mitigating (offsetting) the remainder.
Energy use in your home
The average New Zealand household spends $1,200 per year on home energy. Some of this is fixed costs, and the rest is costs associated with how many units of energy are used. The following table shows just where the energy is used.
Energy use in New Zealand households
(EECA Energy End-Use database)
Savings can be made in the following areas:
General tips for energy-efficient homes
- When building a new home, ensure passive solar design principles are incorporated – get a BRANZ Green Home rating.
- If available, choose a power company that offers 'green' renewable energy. Green energy is power and heating that comes from wind, water (hydro), sun (solar), geothermal or biomass (e.g. wood wastes and landfill gas).
- Buy certified organic produce. Biogrow organic farming practices incorporate organic waste back into the soil. This increases the carbon in the soil and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases – a win-win situation all round!
Tips for energy-efficient home heating
Keeping your home warm, healthy and comfortable is most important. However, there are many ways to make the heating of your home more efficient. You can save money and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
- Damp homes take more energy to heat. Reduce condensation by leaving curtains, windows and doors open on fine days when you are at home. Dry air is easier to heat, and healthier.
- Use thermostats and timers on heaters.
- Use door snakes (draught stoppers) to reduce draughts.
- Block off your open fireplace when not in use.
- Capture as much sunlight as possible. Keep windows clean and remove overhanging branches from trees.
- Close curtains before dark to keep heat in.
- Use heaters away from windows – they are more effective against walls.
- Use an extra blanket or hot-water bottle instead of an electric blanket.
- Put on a jersey instead of a heater.
- Plant a deciduous tree to shade your biggest west- and north-facing windows in summer or use awnings to reduce overheating.
- Check the air tightness of windows, floors and doors. Repairing and replacing faulty seals saves around $190 per year.
- Use a ceiling fan to distribute heat in winter and cool air in summer.
- Increase insulation in the ceiling and stop 42% of your heat escaping. Walls cause 25% heat loss, floors and windows 12%. Increasing insulation is a very effective way of saving energy. The New Zealand Building Code only specifies the minimum insulation you should have. You can gain more comfort and save money in the long run with more insulation.
- Use a heat pump in winter and save up to $500 per year.
- Double-glaze windows – do the south-facing windows first.
- Install thermal-lined curtains with pelmets and save $60 per year.
Domestic appliances are responsible for 15% of home electricity. Many of the changes in the way we use appliances cost little or nothing at all.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. Since April 2002, it has been mandatory for certain electrical products to have an energy star label on them. The more stars, the more you save!
- Many appliances use up to 40% of their annual energy consumption on standby when they are not doing any work, e.g. microwaves and washing machines.
- Choose fridges and washing machines to suit your household size.
- Let food cool before placing it in the freezer/fridge. Refrigeration is responsible for up to 10% of total household energy consumption.
- Position the fridge away from the stove or direct sunlight.
- Set fridge to between 2°C and 5°C, and freezer to -18°C.
- Defrost fridge/freezer twice a year for efficient running. Check door seals.
- Dust fridge coils regularly to remove dirt that stops them working efficiently.
- Check the second fridge in the garage - most second fridges are old, don't work properly and may use up to $300 of electricity per year! Make sure your freezer is not running continuously.
- Use the microwave instead of the oven or stovetop. Microwave ovens use 70% less electricity.
- Use the oven to cook more than one dish at a time.
- Don't open the oven door too often; the temperature drops 15°C each time.
- Use the correct size of pots to match the ring size on the stove top.
- Use lids - uncovered pots use three times more energy.
- Use the smallest amount of water to simmer food.
- Boil water in the electric kettle, not on the stove top.
- Make sure your dishwasher is both energy and water efficient. Only run the machine when it is full and use the economy cycle. Use the dishwasher to heat its own water as it is cheaper than using water heated in an electric hot water cylinder.
In the laundry
- Wash clothes in cold water and only when the machine is full.
- Instead of using your dryer, dry clothes outside using the power of the sun.
- Make sure clothes are well spun before putting them in the dryer.
- Use low heat settings on the dryer whenever you can.
- Make sure the dryer is well vented to the outside.
- Clean the lint filter after each use.
- Do all your ironing at one time.
- Turn off heated towel rails in summer months and when not using them.
- Shower with windows open or vent the room to avoid moisture build-up.
- Turn off appliances either at the on/off button or at the wall when not in use.
- For entertainment appliances (e.g. TV, video,) turn off at the on/off button. For other appliances such as washing machines, driers, microwaves, turn off at the wall and save 5% on your power bill.
- Turn your computer monitor off when not in use as it uses over half the total energy needed to run a computer (the screen saver does not save power).
- Turn the hard drive off when going out or overnight.
- Unplug mobile phone chargers when not in use.
- When going away for holidays, turn off all non-essential appliances at the wall.
Efficient water heating
The most electricity saving gains can be made through efficient water heating. Forty-five percent of your electricity bill is due to hot water heating.
- Fix dripping taps and save $20–$30 per year.
- Adjust the tempering valve on your hot water cylinder so the water temperature at the tap is no more than 50-55°C. For health reasons, the water in the cylinder should be kept above 60°C
- Use cold water when filling the kettle and only heat the amount you need.
- Wash dishes by hand. Fill up the jug using the cold tap. If you have a mixer make sure it is turned round to its cold setting.
- Take showers instead of baths and save 5%.
- Wrap the hot water cylinder with an insulation wrapper and save 5% on your energy bill or $60 per year. Lag (insulate) the pipes up to one metre from the cylinder and save $20 per year.
- Fit water-saving shower heads and save $50. Reducing your shower by two minutes can save 2% of energy in most homes.
- Choose a hot water system that suits the needs of your household – consider installing a solar water heater, wetback, or high-efficiency gas hot water system.
Ten percent of domestic electricity is used in lighting.
- Switch off lights when they are not needed.
- Paint walls a light colour – dark walls need more power for the same amount of light.
- Where you can, use natural daylight instead of turning on the lights.
- When incandescent light bulbs fail, fit lower-wattage bulbs, or compact fluorescents, instead. Changing five frequently used bulbs with compact fluorescents saves 5% on your energy bill. A fluorescent bulb has a longer lifetime and uses 75% less electricity to produce the same amount of light as an equivalent incandescent bulb – a saving of $10 per year in electricity and 250 kg carbon dioxide.
- Install motion sensors on outside lights.
Travelling in motorised transport, whether it be to work, play, holiday or to get the groceries, creates some of the largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Much more efficient cars are coming into the national fleet. Air travel is a large source of greenhouse gases.
- If you're considering moving home, think about choosing a location that minimises the distance you need to commute.
- Set concrete goals at home for reducing your travel.
- Carpool to work or school.
- Walk, cycle or use public transport instead of the car.
- Buy a fuel-efficient, low-polluting car. A smaller car is much more efficient.
- Get your car serviced regularly.
- Drive smoothly and steadily.
- Use your air conditioning sparingly.
- Do you really need that second car? Consider upgrading your bicycle instead.
- Consider telecommuting and video conferencing as options to reduce the need to travel.
- Make use of the walking school bus scheme if available in your area.
- Think about holidaying locally and avoid air travel.
Waste: buying and recycling tips
For most of us, the way we live creates huge amounts of waste. Organic matter in particular (kitchen waste and garden trimmings) produces the greenhouse gas methane when disposed to landfill. All the goods and services we use in our everyday life also have large amounts of carbon dioxide embodied in them that add to our impacts on climate change. If we can be more careful about what we buy, the waste we produce and how we deal with waste, we can reduce
greenhouse gas emissions due to our resource use and waste generation.
Some tips on waste reduction:
- Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminium and steel cans, plastic, glass bottles, milk containers and toner cartridges.
- Compost food scraps and garden trimmings - organic leftovers sent to landfill generate methane.
- Ensure your printer is set to duplex printing.
- Maximise your use of electronic communications as much as possible - do you really need to print emails?
- Buy recycled products.
- Don't use paper or plastic cups, wooden stirrers or plastic spoons. Crockery and cutlery can be used over again.
- Select products with minimal packaging.
- Take your own bags to the supermarket.
- Refuse to take plastic bags when buying goods.
- Buy economy size so you use fewer containers.
- Buy only what you need - be strong!
- Buy local in-season produce as much as possible.
- Don't waste food.
- Use less meat in your diet.
The following New Zealand website links are packed with information, resources, ideas and practical actions on energy savings, home design, energy-saving appliances, renewable-energy options and more.
- www.4million.org.nz – information on how to reduce your impacts related to energy, transport and waste – Ministry for the Environment
- www.branz.co.nz – tools to assess the environmental performance of new homes – BRANZ Green Home Scheme
- www.eeca.govt.nz – information and resources to make your home more energy efficient including information on appliances – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
- www.energywise.org.nz – information and resources to make your home more energy efficient – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
- www.rightcar.govt.nz – tools to help you rate your car’s performance for safety, fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions – Land Transport NZ
- www.smarterhomes.org.nz - resources to help you make your home more efficient – Smarter Homes
- www.sustainableliving.org.nz – information and resources to help you make your household and lifestyle more sustainable – Sustainable Living
- www.wastedtv.co.nz - information and resources provided by the television series Wa$ted for reducing your waste including greenhouse gas emissions
- www.climatechange.govt.nz – information and resources on climate change policy and regulations in New Zealand - Ministry for the Environment
- www.eeca.govt.nz– information and resources to make your business more energy efficient - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
- www.energywise.org.nz– information and resources to make your business more energy efficient – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
- www.enviro-choice.org.nz – ecolabelling scheme for products and services - Environmental Choice
- www.enviro-mark.co.nz – certification scheme for businesses to improve their environmental management – Landcare Research
- www.fuelsaver.govt.nz - options for reducing vehicle fuel use, with a focus on fleet replacement options – Land Transport NZ
- www.nzgbc.org.nz – a certification scheme for new buildings – Green Building Council
- www.telework.co.nz – information and tools to help employers assess the benefits and risks of working from home – Telework New Zealand
- www.travelwise.org.nz – information and tools to help schools and businesses in the Auckland Region to reduce the impacts of travel – Auckland Regional Travel Authority
- www.sustainability.govt.nz - Download 25 easy steps to sustainability (1.6 MB) The booklet provides information to help New Zealanders reduce their environmental footprint and save money. You'll find useful tips on how best to use energy and water, and reduce your rubbish.