By joining the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, renters across Brisbane have been able to lower their household carbon emissions and save on bills without having to own their home.
The Brisbane Carbon Challenge is now well and truly in the swing of things with our Champion Households taking action to halve their carbon emissions. Previously we’ve introduced you to some of our participating households and shared their goals and ideas for carbon-saving improvements, but what about our champions who rent their homes? Is it possible to rent and still reduce your household carbon emissions? The answer is thankfully, yes! Here’s how:
The Brisbane Carbon Challenge focuses on three key areas for reducing household carbon emissions. They are transport, energy and waste. For most Brisbane households, transport makes up the largest source of carbon emissions, with transport-related emissions tallying around 5.56 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) per household. Coming in at a close second place, Brisbane’s average household energy consumption generates approximately 5.38 tonnes. Waste is the lowest of the three sources, emitting approximately 0.61 tonnes. Together, the three total an average of approximately 11.55 tonnes per Brisbane household, which is equal to burning just under 5,000 litres of petrol! Here’s how you can cut those emissions without upsetting your landlord.
Reducing energy emissions
At the time of writing this, it’s early August and about as cold as it gets in Brisbane. No doubt the heaters are cranked in many Brisbane households each evening and blasted once again in the early morning. To ensure you aren’t wasting energy unnecessarily take these steps.
- Reduce drafts: Whether you rent or own your home, it’s quite easy and inexpensive to reduce the drafts within your home and seal warmed air inside. Check the caulking around the windows and doors in your house each year. If the caulking is damaged, talk to your landlord about having it replaced. Replacement caulking is cheap and simple to install. You can also use draft excluders to reduce the gaps under doors and around windows.
- Cover your windows and floorboards: Floor rugs and curtains can make a dramatic difference to the temperature of your house, especially if you have floorboards and/or large windows. It’s estimated up to 40 per cent of a home’s heating energy can be lost through windows, and in summer, up to 87 per cent of its heat can be gained through them. Adding curtains is a simple way to minimise your household carbon emissions while also reducing your annual heating and cooling bills.
- Adjust your air conditioner: In winter, set your air conditioner between 18°C and 21°C. Each degree outside the recommended range increases the energy use of your system by around 10 per cent. If you’re using heaters, invest in the most energy-efficient heater you can afford.
- Switch to green energy: If your landlord isn’t interested in installing solar panels, source your energy from an accredited renewable energy provider. When you buy accredited GreenPower, you support Australian renewable energy generators and ensure more renewable electricity goes into our national grid.
Top tips from the Braatvedt household:
The Braatvedt family of three live in a Brisbane townhouse and generate around 10.26 tonnes of carbon emissions. To reduce household energy consumption, the family installed insulating blinds and are working at turning off all unnecessary lights.
Phil Braatvedt has also begun cycling to work and the family car is now running on E10 fuel to reduce their transport emissions, which will have an estimated emissions reduction of 1.3 tonnes.
Reducing transport emissions
One of the downsides to living in a large country like Australia is the time it takes to travel from place to place. Households generally rely on their cars for daily commuting. Reducing your transport emissions can be as simple as switching your petrol type or efficiently planning your trips.
- Opt for active travel: If your body is physically able, walking, cycling or scootering is a fantastic travel option that benefits the planet and your health. Brisbane has an extensive network of more than 4,800 kilometres of bikeways and shared pathways that make it easy to get around on foot, by bike or scooter.
If you can’t walk or ride the whole way, aim for the closest bus or train station and use public transport for the rest of the journey. E-mobility options, such as eBikes and electric scooters, are also a great option.
- Use public transport: Brisbane City Council buses and ferries are carbon neutral making them the perfect mode of transportation. Train travel is also a terrific option, with trains producing up to five times less greenhouse gas per passenger kilometre than cars.
- Use biofuels in your vehicle: Biofuels, such as 10% ethanol-blended petrol (E10) are affordable, readily available and can reduce your vehicle’s emissions by around 7 per cent.
Top tips from the Debono household:
Miriam and Nicholas live in a Brisbane unit and were keen to prioritise the reduction of their transport emissions. After chatting with Miriam’s mum, the household was gifted an old bike for the challenge. The couple has now replaced driving to the shops with cycling twice a week.
Reducing waste emissions
Compared to transport and energy, household waste has the lowest impact on emissions. Yet, it remains a key area for improvement. The solutions for reducing carbon emissions are low-cost and effective.
- Sort your recycling: Paper and cardboard in landfill produces 60 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than food waste and twice the emissions of garden waste. If you have a home composting system, try shredding paper or cardboard and adding it to your compost.
- Compost your food waste: These days there are plenty of home composting solutions available to suit any budget or household, including apartment or townhouse dwellers. Worm farm’s make great apartment-friendly composting solutions or you can even buy special composting systems that are suitable to have indoors or on a balcony.
Did you know that Brisbane City Council have a compost rebate program? The program provides Brisbane residents with a rebate of up to $70 off the purchase of eligible composting equipment to help you set up your household composting. If you still prefer not to have a home compost system, donate your food scraps to a community composting hub.
Top tips from the Shepherd household:
Alexandra Shepherd lives in a Brisbane apartment with a flatmate. To reduce waste generated by the household, Alexandra purchased an extra composting solution suitable for use in an apartment. Food in landfill produces methane—a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. By utilising a home composting unit, it’s estimated that Alexandra will reduce her carbon emissions by 0.27 tonnes, thereby almost completely eliminating her waste emissions!
For more information about the Brisbane Carbon Challenge or to calculate your household’s carbon footprint, visit https://www.brisbanecarbonchallenge.com.au/