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Carbon footprint

Keeping lockdown routines could cut Britain’s long-term carbon footprint

By EDF | Posted May 20, 2020
  • Changes to our daily routines as a result of lockdown could shrink the nation’s carbon footprint by reducing pressure on energy demand at peak times
  • EDF estimates that if a third of households continue to use their dishwasher and washing machines at non-peak times, annual CO2 emissions could reduce by half a million tonnes - equivalent to more than 750,000 cars switching to electric vehicles
  • 8 in 10 Brits keen to see lifestyle changes that have had a positive impact on the planet continue post-lockdown

Changes to our daily household routines could have a long-term positive impact on our carbon footprint – as data from EDF reveals households continuing to take care of chores throughout the day could reduce the need for fossil-fuelled generation at peak times once industries power up again. 

Historically, households created additional demand for energy at peak times, typically between 4 and 7pm, as people returned home from work and started to tackle these day-to-day chores at the same time. However, since lockdown began, demand for energy throughout the day has smoothed.

The data, released as part of work by the low carbon electricity supplier to assess the impact of lockdown routines on energy efficiency, estimates that if just over a third of households continue to use their dishwasher and washing machines at non-peak times in the future, as they have been doing during lockdown, annual CO2 emissions could reduce by half a million tonnes – the equivalent to more than 750,000 cars switching to electric vehicles (EVs)*.   

The announcement comes as consumer research** undertaken by EDF reveals 8 in 10 of us are keen to see environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes continue after restrictions are lifted. 

The study of 2,000 UK residents found that lockdown restrictions have caused the nation to reassess the impact of their daily habits on the environment, with 40% planning to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint post-lockdown, rising to 51% of those under the age of 34. The most popular steps were:

  • Walking more (67%)
  • Recycling more (52%)
  • Purchasing more locally produced products (47%)
  • Using the car less (46%)
  • Unplugging electronic devices when not in use (37%)

The reduced pollution levels resulting from dramatically fewer vehicles on the road have also sparked an increased interest in EVs, with 1 in 5 (19%) more likely to consider switching to a low emission EV in the future. 

78% of people believe we can all do more to reduce our carbon footprint once restrictions are lifted. However, despite the potential impact on CO2 emissions, less than a third (31%) are aware that the time of day they do household chores, such as washing dishes and laundry, impacts their carbon footprint.

There is a strong demand for more advice on living greener, with nearly two thirds (62%) wanting information about how to reduce their carbon footprint.

To help customers, EDF will be launching a new app in the summer that prompts users with energy efficiency advice. This will include alerting them when the electricity grid is operating at its lowest levels of carbon emissions – so they can do their household chores requiring energy, such as washing and baking, at the most environmentally friendly times.

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director for Customers at EDF added: “The restrictions brought on our lives by the Coronavirus pandemic have really made people think about the impact of human activity on the planet. It’s encouraging to see how many are embracing the ambition of what lasting changes could be made to reduce their carbon footprint, from considering greener modes of transport to making smarter choices with their energy usage.

“Our data shows that even small adjustments to routines, such as changing the time we do household chores, could have a collective impact as lockdown eases and industries return to work. As Britain’s largest generator of low carbon electricity, we’re committed to helping the nation embrace a greener lifestyle – and encourage customers to look out for the launch of our new app that will help them make smarter energy choices.”

Notes to editors:

Calculation based on 10 million households shifting three dishwasher and three washing machine cycles per week from evening peak times to the daytime, assuming normal differentials in electricity carbon intensity based on National Grid ESO’s carbon intensity API.  Carbon footprint of new passenger cars based on European Environment Agency statistics, and average passenger car mileage from the Department for Transport.  Carbon footprint of Electric Vehicles based on EDF figures and DESNZ average carbon intensity of electricity generation.

** Consumer research of 2,000 UK residents conducted by OnePoll in May 2020

For more information contact:

About EDF

EDF is leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission electric future, tackling climate change and helping Britain reach net zero. It is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers with electricity and gas.

It generates low carbon electricity from eight nuclear power stations, more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms, and operates one of Britain’s biggest battery storage units, one gas and one coal power station, EV charge-points, and combined heat and power plants.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and plans for new power stations at Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex. Hinkley Point C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 7% of UK demand. The project is already making a positive impact on the local and national economy as well as boosting skills and education.

EDF also invests in a range of low carbon technologies including renewables, solar and battery storage. The company’s largest offshore wind farm is currently being built in Scotland and the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project will be ready in 2023. It is applying research and development expertise to improve the performance of existing generation and developing the potential of new technologies.

EDF is helping its customers, both in business and at home, to join generation electric and take their first steps to sustainably powering their lives. Whether it is buying an electric car, generating and storing electricity or selling energy back to the grid – everyone is welcome. EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British business and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. In addition, the company’s energy services business, Imtech, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF in the UK is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 13,000 people at locations across England and Scotland.

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