From Greenhouse to Green House

The threats of climate change
CO2 emissions and savings


The threats of climate change and what individual householders can do to reduce them

Gerry Wolff and Marianne Jones


Saving the planet, like charity, begins at home. This web site is a "consumer's eye view" of conservation. It describes what we have learned in trying to make our household less damaging to the environment. By "household" we mean the way we run our house and also how we travel around.

The danger posed by war to all of humanity and to our planet is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, March 2007.

Making an ordinary house green could make a fascinating subject for a TV series.

The main emphasis in these notes is on possible ways of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2. Amongst environmental problems, climate change is "the big one" both in terms of the threats that it poses, the difficulty of solving the problem and the urgency of the action that is needed.

We quite like the idea of building an 'eco' house (if we could find a suitable site) but this would teach us less about what can be done with existing houses. Given that the UK is unlikely to tear down its entire stock of houses and rebuild from scratch, zero-carbon 'eco-renovation' of existing houses is where the real challenge lies.

Our spreadsheet on CO2 emissions and savings shows that it is relatively easy to make quite substantial cuts in CO2 emissions. Without great expense, inconvenience or discomfort, we have already managed to cut our CO2 emissions by about 50%. If the same is true of industry and commerce—which we suspect it is—then, with the right incentives (provided by Government), the UK should be able to reach the Government's target of a 60% cut in CO2 emissions much sooner than the 2050 date that they have set.

In these notes, we have highlighted problems where some kind of initiative by Government seems to be needed. On an accompanying web page, we have summarised what we think those initiatives should be.

I find it surprising that every single one of us insures our home when there is a 0.1% probability—maybe 0.5% probability—our home will burn down. With something between a 20% and 80% probability of our planet burning down, we don't insure ... our planet. I find that surprising!

Legendary venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, speaking at the Solar Power 2006 conference in California. To listen to his talk, go to

A warmer world won't just be inconvenient. Huge swathes of it, including most of Europe, the US and Australia as well as all of Africa and China will actually be uninhabitable—too hot, dry or stormy to sustain a human population. This is no mirage. It could materialise if the world warms by an average of just 4 deg C, which some models predict could happen as soon as 2050.

Lead editorial in the New Scientist, 2009-02-28.



To help correct misleading information that is being spread about nuclear power and raise awareness of a major alternative, please go to

Stop Climate Chaos actions: Email your MP about green energy and Tell the Prime Minister to say NO to dirty coal.


To date, 37 MPs in the UK Parliament have signed up to the "25/5" Challenge, to reduce their domestic emissions of CO2 by 25% within 5 years. To be on the mailing list for Carbon2Share (newsletter about the "25/5" Challenge and related topics) please email Colin Challen MP using his online form.


First version: 2001-12-29.