Facts You Should Know About EnergyWhether you’re a veteran green expert or new to the ideas of saving energy and lowering your carbon footprint it’s always worthwhile to have a broad idea of the bigger environmental picture. Not only will this help you keep focused in your quest to be more efficient with your energy usage, but you’ll also have specific facts and figures at your fingertips when encouraging other people to do the same.

To help you achieve a wider knowledge of the issues at large, we’ve come up with an essential list of facts you should know about energy and the environment. Refer to them whenever you’re having a moment of weakness – it might be when you’re reaching for the car keys unnecessarily, or leaving the TV on when you’re popping out – or to encourage you to do even more.

1. The UK has the worst energy habits in Europe. Don’t let your nation down – a report by the Energy Saving Trust saw the UK crowned as the least efficient energy users in Europe. We’re less likely to turn off standby on appliances, but more likely to get in the car for a short journey than our European counterparts. Raising standards can be as simple as switching a light off, or shutting our fridges and freezers properly. But the reduction in overall CO2 emissions could be huge.

2. The government has committed to cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050. We’ve so far come a long way in reducing our overall CO2 emissions, with the UK well on target to meet the Kyoto Treaty’s European target of 12.5% by 2012. But the 60% target is much more ambitious, and it will take each one of us to get involved to achieve it. Start actively looking to reduce your CO2 emissions in everyday activities such as shopping, taking the children to school and keeping your home warm in winter.

3. By the end of this century, heatwaves of 40°C+ could be commonplace during UK summers. Ok, so hot summers might sound like an attractive novelty – particularly in light of 2007’s summer washout – but heat waves of over 40 degrees Celsius could have serious consequences. The 2003 heatwave in Europe was deadly for thousands of people, creating unbearable living conditions, forest fires and drought. This kind of heat, not seen in the UK for over 100,000 years, would completely change the terrain and wildlife in the country, and make water shortages significantly more likely.

4. We generate less than 1% of our electricity from wind, but there is the potential for wind to provide over 10% of our energy requirements. There is massive potential for wind and other renewable energy sources to provide a significant amount of our energy, without the CO2 emissions and greenhouse effect. While other fossil fuel resources are dwindling, wind is free, clean and in abundance, particularly around the UK’s coastline. One way to support renewable energy is to sign up to a green electricity tariff with your energy company, or switch to a specialist energy company who can guarantee 100% renewable energy. If more people sign up, more money will go directly to the development of green energy sources.

5. A three bedroom semi-detached house that has no insulation costs around £500 a year to heat. But, according to the National Energy Foundation, you can easily halve your energy bills if you become smarter with the way you use energy, and if you adopt some simple energy saving measures. These include installing wall and lift insulation, switching to energy saving light bulbs, turning your thermostat down a degree and getting draught excluders under door and window frames. Not only does it make sense to become more energy efficient in your home in terms of the environment, but the economic benefits add up too.