Big Reckoning 2017: Bigger house – bigger bills?

2017 was a year of big change for us as a family – mainly because we finally moved out of our much-loved-but-too-small house, and into a bigger one. This has been a positive in so many ways, but the question was always how much it would impact our super low bills and carbon footprint. If you’ve read this blog before you will know that these things are usually closely linked; the more cash you save, the lower your carbon footprint – and vice versa.

So I have crunched the numbers for 2017 as a whole, with a whole year in the new house. And, yes, in a nutshell, both bills and carbon footprint have gone up. The question is, how bad is it?

Cash first – spend is up on home energy

We spent £1,010 on gas and electricity in 2017. This is a huge increase on previous years (we spent £704 in 2015, the last full year in our old house).The main increase has been in gas. The problem is that whilst it is a very pleasant living space, the ground floor of the new house is a chilly environmental catastrophe. It is all single glazed windows, no underfloor insulation for the suspended wooden floor, and there are draughts galore. It takes a load of gas to heat it up – and some pretty normal chilly weather in November and December haven’t helped.

Electricity is also up, but not really by that much, (£478 compared to £424 in 2015), considering that there were price rises during 2017, and we also have a lot of inefficient light fittings in the new house. Replacing these will make a big difference.

On the positive side, we invested in  a new A+++ rated fridge freezer, which is making a big difference on running costs compared to our knackered old fridge and separate freezer.

Car spend is up too

Our spend on our car is also up – we did 9,000 miles last year, compared to just over 7,000 in 2015 – mostly due to a big increase in local journeys as I ferried tools and material around between the different houses in a frenzy of buildering. The total spend was still pretty low though, at around £2,143,(£1,186 on fuel and £957 on other costs). There will of course be depreciation of the car on top of that (probably another £800 or so).

Food Spend held steady but is still ridiculous, at around £12k per year, and spend on stuff is also up, as we’ve had to buy a lot of new things for the new house – at £8,300 for the year.

All in all, we’ve spent quite a lot of cash in 2017. So what about the carbon footprint side of things?

Carbon footprint up?

Well, yes. Probably unsurprisingly, our carbon footprint has also shot up from 2.5 tonnes per person in 2015 to 3.2 tonnes in 2017. Much of this is down to the increases in home energy and car usage that brought the bigger bills. Here’s the pic.

big reckoning 2017 carbon footprint v2

Going the wrong way. Time to give up?

Of course, we have a lovely new house, which the whole family can fit in comfortably, and this has brought many pluses for our quality of life. But things definitely went the wrong way, in cost and carbon terms, in 2017. So is it time to give up, and relinquish my crown as a low carbon champion?

I think you can guess the answer. We knew we’d take a hit with moving house, it was inevitable, and necessary. 2018 is a good time for us to start sorting out the glitches that make this house more expensive to run, and I’m confident that by the end of the year, we’ll be seeing some improvement in these figures. And it’s worth remembering that at 3.2 tonnes per person, our carbon footprint is still around a quarter of the U.K. national average, and closer to the safe limit than the global average:

So, onwards and upwards. Well, hopefully downwards for the costs and carbon footprint – but you know what I mean! Hope 2018 is an amazing year for you!

Til next time.

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