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My Journey to Net Zero

Climate change is the greatest threat to our planet, and to overcome it will require thousands of small changes that add up to make a combined solution. 

02 September 2022 | 4 min read
Steve Hall
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Shaping a sustainable future is one of the biggest challenges of our time and we're extremely proud of the work we do to help our clients to deliver their projects and operate more sustainably. At the heart of this is our own experts who are passionate about building a better world for future generations - in a personal and professional capacity. 

We catch up with Steve Hall, Technical Director - Highways, to get a closer look into his journey to Net Zero and becoming fossil fuel free. 

Why did you decide to stop burning fossil fuels?

The recent adverse temperatures and floods across the world have left nobody in doubt that our climate is changing. As a result, we all need to adapt the way we live and accept this will require individual compromise (for me that was giving up my much-cherished Mercedes!). But I'm proud to say as a household we no longer burn any fossil fuels. 

So, how did you do it?

It's been a two-year process, powered by the monies saved from the impact of the pandemic - not being able to go on foreign holidays as an example. 

The first step began with an electric car. When the family car came up for renewal in the summer of 2020, we chose to replace a large Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) diesel Mercedes with a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) by Kia. As with many electric vehicle owners, we started to appreciate energy; where it comes from, what it costs and what we could do to save it. 

We changed our electricity supply to a Green Tariff designed for electric vehicle owners, allowing us to charge the car overnight (4 hours) for around 25% of the normal day time rate. We also installed solar panels (4.5KWp) and a smart car charger. The charger allows us to trickle charge from the solar and produce from 20 - 30 miles of range a day during the summertime. 

Solar panels only produce energy during day light, whilst most of our demand is in the evening. So, we installed home batteries in the autumn of 2021 (2 x 5.2 KWh). These charge from the solar during the day when our demand is low, ready for us to use in the evening and morning whilst we wait for the sun to rise. During winter, and the typical British dull and wet spring and autumn days, we can top up the battery overnight for use the next day using our reduced off-peak electricity tariff. 

We replaced our gas hob with an electric induction hob in January 2022, so at this stage in the process, the only fossil fuels we were burning was for room and water heating. To access Government grants for changing to electric heating we needed an updated home Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) so that there were no outstanding recommendations for insulation. We did this by installing cavity wall insulation and increasing the depth of existing loft insulation. Following the heat loss calculation on our 1930’s semidetached house, the £5000 Government Grant was approved.

In July this year, we changed our gas combination boiler to an air source heat pump for room heating, and a heat battery for water heating.

Success!

Can you share the benefits of not burning fossil fuels?

We have reduced our individual carbon footprint from just over 13 tonnes per year down to just 7 tonnes (WWF app). With the recent rising costs of fossil fuels, we have significantly reduced our monthly household costs and estimate payback on capital costs within 5 years. 

Energy for Electricity
This is an app we use that demonstrates where our electricity is going. This photo was taken in the morning and shows that solar is generating 0.6Kw of our electricity, but only 0.2Kw is being used by the house. The excess 0.4Kw is going to batteries, for use when the sun goes down.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of going fossil fuel free?

Our household journey to “stop burning stuff” has required a lot of research. Starting with reviews of electric cars that had the best range for our budget, opening a whole new world of new technologies for the electrification of our society. We have been able to achieve the electrification of our home using many products designed and built right here in the UK, including the charger, home batteries, heat pump and heat battery.

Whilst we have removed all fossil fuels from our home, we appreciate this has come at a cost and was made possible for us in the two-year timescale from our monies saved during the pandemic. What we have been able to demonstrate however, is that it is possible to remove the need for fossil fuels from a typical UK home, and with the government grant, for the price of two holidays abroad.

My advice: if you can; join me on the journey to Net Zero.