Reduce your carbon footprint through ‘carbon offsetting’. You can fund green energy projects around the world, through companies such as Oxford-based Climate Care. Visit Climate Care's website for an explanation of how carbon offsetting works.
Consider switching your mobile phone, internet or home phone contract to a ‘green’ supplier such as Green Mobile, which plants 5 trees for every new customer and donates money to environmental charities, or the Phone Co-op, which uses green electricity and off-sets it's carbon emissions.
Invest in a large-scale renewable project like the Westmill Co-operative wind farm, in Watchfield. The Co-operative encourages people from all walks of life to get involved in renewable energy whilst trying to maximise the social and economic benefits of schemes to the community. Contact Energy4All to register your interest.
Encourage your employer to switch to green electricity. Many local organisations already use 100% green electricity.
Get local renewables advice: Your local City Council and TV Energy offer free advice over the phone or by email about renewable energy technologies, costs, installers/suppliers and grants.
Help your local town or city plan for a future without fossil fuels: get involved in the Transition Towns movement which looks at ways we can move towards using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
Solar Hot Water is one of the most cost effective methods of generating your own energy. Make sure you don't pay over the odds though: for a 3 or 4 person household the average professionally installed system cost is £3,000– £5,000, with the possibility of a small government grant if you use a registered installer.
If you're interested in other sources of renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaic (solar electric), small-scale hydro, ground source heat or biomass (wood/wood pellets) there are a limited number of government grants available via the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.
To ensure that you get the best price when installing renewable energy, always get at least two quotes from installers who are registered with the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.
Avoid the scramble for government renewable energy grants by learning how to install your own renewable energy system on a Low Impact Living Initiative courses. These courses teach you how to build your own ready-to-install solar hot water panels, for less than £2,000, or how to power your home with other sustainable energy sources, such as wood, wind and solar electric.
Wind energy, though effective in rural areas, is not best suited to urban environments as roof mounted turbines are affected by wind turbulence in built up areas. Plus if wind speeds regularly drop below 5 m/s turbines will not generate electricity. To give you an idea, the average wind speed in Oxford is 4–5 m/s, so unless you do your research your turbine could end up being a costly roof decoration.
Before investing in a wind turbine check the wind speeds in your area on DTI's Wind Database or buy an anemometer, for £50, and do your own tests.
Biomass (wood) energy is traditionally a cheap method of heating your home. If you have a wood burning stove you can get kindling and fuel-wood and some charcoal from Oxford Wood Recycling or contact The Log Pile for other suppliers and information.
To install a wood burning stove in your property try contacting The National Energy Foundation (NEF) for a list of retailers and manufacturers. Or why not give a second-hand stove a home, they are virtually indestructible and sell on eBay for as little as £50!
Pioneer a community renewable energy scheme; 30–50% grants are available from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2.
Get jargon-free information: Better Generation provides information on domestic wind turbines, solar power and more. It also reviews renewables and other energy products.