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Home is where the heat is

Robin Peters, founder and CEO of Snugg, explains how he’s making energy-efficient homes simple and affordable
Edinburgh terrace

This article first appeared in our COP27 special issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 11 November 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

I’m sure I’m not the only dad who has spent years vigilantly switching off lights and turning down the thermostat on behalf of his family.

For most of those years my goal was to keep the cost of our energy bills down, but recently I’ve started thinking differently.

As my daughters have grown up, I’ve watched climate change cause them a great deal of anxiety. Family conversations have shifted from Love Island to global warming, and both girls are now looking at careers in sustainability.

At this stage in my career, I feel it’s important that I also make a positive environmental impact with any work that I do – and as an engineer, I’m excited by the idea of trying to solve big problems.

When I learned that over 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions are created by our homes, I was inspired to work on addressing this problem and founded Snugg, an online platform that helps people make their homes more energy efficient.

Improving efficiency

Recently, a study published by Nesta revealed that if 10 million households reduced their gas boiler’s flow temperature (the temperature it heats water up to before pumping it round your radiators), they’d collectively stop 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere each year. That’s equivalent to taking nearly six million transatlantic flights out of the sky!

Adjusting our boilers doesn’t come close to the energy savings that could be made by installing solar panels on our roofs, heat pumps in our gardens and insulation in our walls.

Snugg’s own research shows that the typical Edinburgh home would save well over a tonne of carbon emissions on its own if it made these changes. Some homes could save over four tonnes. Imagine the environmental benefit if all of the UK’s 24 million homes followed suit.

Costs and savings

Of course, there’s an upfront cost (which can be funded through grants or financing options), but there are plenty of financial upsides, too.

Energy bills can be much lower when a home retains heat more efficiently – and with solar panels on the roof, as well as getting free electricity when the sun shines you can also earn money by selling unused energy back to the grid.

Plus, research shows that making efficiency improvements could increase the value of your home by up to 10%. That’s a compelling case – even for a climate sceptic.

As I’m sure you know, addressing climate change is about more than planting trees and building wind turbines. We can reduce a huge amount of carbon emissions simply by making our homes more energy efficient.

But through no fault of their own, a large number of homeowners don’t realise how much their home is contributing to climate change. It rarely makes the news. For those who do, the process of making the necessary improvements can still be a confusing and time-consuming experience – complicated further by the fact that every home is unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Simplified improvements

I believe that more people would be willing to make their homes more energy efficient if the process of identifying, financing and installing improvements were simpler.

This is what motivates us at Snugg – and it’s why we’ve focused on building an easy-to-use platform that clearly shows which improvements could have the biggest impact on your home and, crucially, how to get them installed.

Inspired by my girls’ futures, I’ve made some home efficiency improvements already – and I urge others to consider doing the same.

Look around your home: could your boiler’s flow temperature be turned down? Are your walls insulated? Do you have space for a few solar panels?

By making a few changes, you could drastically reduce your home’s carbon emissions, cut your energy bills by up to £1,500 a year and increase the value of your home by up to 10%. It’s a win for you and the planet.

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