Living more sustainably can be good for the planet and your pocket

17 October 2022

Plant and coins

Royal Bank of Scotland was one of the many businesses who got involved with this year’s Scotland’s Climate Week, that took place a few weeks ago. Read their tips below for how you can live more sustainably and the actions they’re taking as a bank to tackle the climate emergency. 

With the increasing cost of living having an impact on household budgets, particularly energy bills, it’s understandable that this is dominating the news agenda and causing concern for people. The positive news is that making more sustainable choices could also save you money now and in the long run. And change doesn’t always need to be expensive. In fact, there are many free choices that all add up and are an easy way to turn those good intentions into actions.


Taking action starts at home

Residential heating and hot water accounted for 14% of the UK’s emissions in 2019 (BBC July 2022), so finding ways to use less energy at home is a good place to start. For example, washing clothes at 30 degrees, dusting radiators or using the ‘eco’ setting on appliances cost nothing to do but will reduce the energy you use and could lower your bills too.

55% of homeowners said high energy prices would make them more likely to implement energy efficiency measures (NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker April 2022). So, if you do own your home, you could look at other ways to make it more energy efficient. For a relatively small amount of money upfront, replacing old light bulbs with low energy ones could improve your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating and eventually save you money.

Insulating your home is often known as the ‘fabric first’ approach.  Put simply, it’s important to find ways to reduce heat loss before you look at bigger improvements like heat pumps. Insulating walls and roof spaces will reduce heat loss, meaning your boiler doesn’t need to work as hard and your home will feel warmer for longer once the heating goes off. As well as helping to reduce energy bills, your home could be more desirable if it’s more energy efficient. 39% of homebuyers looking to move in the next 10 years said that a property’s EPC rating was a ‘very important’ factor (NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker April 2022).

Clothes hanging

Reducing your carbon footprint in other ways

Using a carbon footprint calculator, like the one in our banking app, can help you work out where else you could make more sustainable choices. How we travel, particularly the advance of electric vehicles (EVs) is undergoing rapid change. With 40% of homeowners saying they plan to install an EV charger in the next 10 years it’s clear that cutting tailpipe emissions is on peoples’ minds (NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker April 2022).

Of course, travel doesn’t always need to be by car.  For shorter journeys, say under two miles, walking, wheeling or cycling could be a better option.  If you’re able to, it will slash your fuel bills as well as your vehicle emissions.

Clothing choices is another area to consider. The global fashion industry produced 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 – equivalent to the economies of UK, Germany and France (McKinsey & Company 2022). ‘Do I need it?’ ‘Does it need to be new?’ ‘What’s it made of?’ Asking simple questions could lead you to make more sustainable choices and possibly help you save money too. We all have a role to play and this year we’ve started rolling out new branch uniforms made from sustainable materials, created from recycled plastic, with one metre of the new fabric saving 28 plastic bottles.

Tackling climate change can feel overwhelming but, as with any ambition, breaking it down into smaller, achievable goals can be a motivating and rewarding way to get started. 

We were pleased to support Scotland’s Climate Week. 

From posting helpful content on our social media channels, to colleague engagement, Climate Week provided an important platform to continue our focus on delivering a more sustainable economy and future for the customers and communities we serve.

As part of the NatWest Group, we’re one of the UK’s biggest banks for retail (personal) customers, and the largest lender to business. So, we have a clear role to play in tackling climate change. Our climate ambition sets out a series of goals:

  • Achieve net zero by 2050 (This includes financed emissions, assets under management and our operational value chain).
  • At least halve the climate impact of our financing activity by 2030 (Against a 2019 baseline).
  • We’re targeting to provide £100 billion in climate and sustainable finance by 2025.
  • Achieve a 50% reduction in our own direct operational carbon footprint by 2025 (40% as at H1 2022 vs 38% at FY 2021).
  • Achieve the aim of 50% of our UK residential mortgage customers’ homes to be at or above EPC C rating by 2030.
  • Fully phase out of coal by 1 January 2030 and fully phase out of coal for UK and non-UK customers who have UK coal production, generation and coal related infrastructure by 1 October 2024.


Gillan Rankin, Digital Climate Lead, Royal Bank of Scotland