Air Care: lockdown gives Brits a glimpse of life with less pollution – now is the time to act
E.ON launches ‘Change the Weather’ service to put air quality on the map
- New research1 reveals 86% of Brits believe air pollution is an issue the public needs to know more about
- 57% care more about air quality than ever before and 62% miss how clean the air was during the first national lockdown
- 83% would take action to tackle air pollution if they were made more aware about the air they breathe
- In a UK first, E.ON launches Change the Weather service, alongside weather data provider DTN, to get air pollution levels included in widespread daily weather forecasts
No level of air pollution should ever be deemed safe. There are many things we can all do to help reduce our impact on the environment and the air we breathe. From driving less, or driving electric, and making our homes more energy efficient, to powering our homes with renewable electricity. Making air quality information more accessible through our Change the Weather service is an important step in the right direction.
In its ongoing commitment to raise awareness about air pollution, E.ON has launched its Air Care Research, featuring the views of more than 4,000 people across the country, which found almost two thirds (62%) of people say they miss how clear the air was during the first national lockdown.
Between March and June, air pollution reports gave us a glimpse of life with less air pollution, as nitrogen oxide levels in some cities fell by around 60% due to less traffic on the roads2.
As we make our way through a second lockdown in England that should see traffic reduce drastically for a second time this year, nearly nine in ten (86%) stated air pollution is an issue the British public needs to know more about and three-quarters (72%) believe it’s as important to include air quality information as it is the pollen count in weather forecasts.
In response to E.ON’s ‘Air Care Research’, the energy and solutions provider, working with weather data provider DTN, has launched Change the Weather – a new service to help national and regional media include air quality information3 in their weather forecasts. Titles including the London Evening Standard, the I and the Daily Record have already made the change.
Michael Lewis, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: “No level of air pollution should ever be deemed safe. There are many things we can all do to help reduce our impact on the environment and the air we breathe. From driving less, or driving electric, and making our homes more energy efficient, to powering our homes with renewable electricity.
“Making air quality information more accessible through our Change the Weather service is an important step in the right direction and will help ensure this critical topic stays front of mind as we navigate our daily lives.“
Seven months on from the start of that first national lockdown, more than half of those questioned (57%) say they care more about air quality than ever before, and nearly seven in ten (68%) would do more to help the environment if they had daily reminders on the quality of the air they breathe. Doing more could translate into simple steps respondents said they would take, such as turning off lights at home (34%), using their car less (27%) and buying fewer things manufactured using fossil fuels (25%).
Daily air pollution forecasts will be welcomed by many British consumers, as 43% said they’d be more likely to watch a news segment or read a newspaper if it included regular updates on air pollution levels, over ones that didn’t.
As part of its pledge to help clear the air by giving people better access to information on air pollution, E.ON has teamed up with meteorologist, author and broadcaster Clare Nasir to help clear the air around air pollution and help the nation better understand what the Air Quality Index means, as well as sharing information to help inspire small changes that can make a big impact.
Clare said: “E.ON’s Change the Weather service is close to my heart for many reasons. As a meteorologist and clean air campaigner for the last 20 years I know first-hand that air pollution is a public health issue that affects us all, from babies to the fittest adults as well the elderly and vulnerable.”
E.ON’s Air Care Research revealed a quarter of respondents (25%) believe air pollution has had a direct impact on their own or their family’s health. This subject is close to Clare Nasir’s heart after her daughter, Sienna, developed a persistent cough as a baby and needed to use an asthma inhaler most days as a toddler just to keep her airways open and ease the wheezing and coughing whenever they went outdoors and were exposed to high levels of air pollution.
Clare continues: “As a parent, I want my daughter growing up in a world where the air is clean. Raising awareness about air pollution and sharing information on how each of us can help reduce the levels of air pollution is vital. I completely support E.ON’s commitment to helping people better understand air pollution, allowing us to make informed choices and put pollution on the map for the first time in nearly a decade.”
The research also shows almost three quarters (73%) of the nation favours businesses and organisations which are doing good for the environment, giving even more reason for businesses to implement initiatives that support a cleaner air environment.
E.ON is committed to being carbon neutral by 2040 and offers 100% renewable electricity for its 3.4 million customers’ homes as standard4. E.ON also offers smart meters, energy efficient boilers and solar and battery technology which can all help people better manage their home energy use, and even generate their own.
For more information about how E.ON is helping to clear the air through smarter, sustainable energy solutions, and to get access to daily air pollution updates, search E.ON Clean Air or visit eonenergy.com/clean-air.
Find below Clare Nasir’s tips and facts about air pollution. With small changes, we can make a big impact:
How to check air pollution levels:
Check the air quality forecast for your local area
- The air pollution forecast uses the Daily Air Quality Index, which tells you about the levels of air pollution in your local area and is a good indicator of how clean the air is. Through its Change the Weather service, E.ON is now making this information freely available to national and regional media, and on its own website, enabling this information to become even more visible so you know what the levels are like before you step outside.
How you can spot if air pollution is potentially bad:
- Air pollution can vary depending on the weather. Air pollution builds on days when the wind is light, but when the wind picks up it can help to clear the air. In winter, high pressure will keep the air cold and damp air, sometimes even foggy – and this allows pollutants to readily gather. And in summer, on hot days when the air is still, smog thickens. If you have a pollen allergy, the combination of high pollen and air pollution can exacerbate breathing conditions further.
- Signs in the sky that air pollution may be high. If smoke from chimneys billows sideways, not upwards, this indicates that the lower atmosphere is trapping the air, or in other words, is forming a lid that doesn’t allow the dirty air to escape into the upper atmosphere. And if the air looks hazy, this could be a sign that smog has formed which can be detrimental to our health.
How to limit your exposure to air pollution
- Avoid roads surrounded by high buildings. The concentration of pollutants tends to be higher where they are trapped between buildings - even with a breeze air pollution is simply redistributed along the route.
- Avoid exposure during peak traffic times. Congestion can triple during rush hour and with more vehicles on the road, the concentration of pollutants can also increase. To help reduce your exposure to these pollutants, try to stay away from roads during this time or wear a filtered mask when walking alongside traffic.
How to lessen your impact on air pollution:
- Go local. A great way to cut down on car journeys is to start travelling to shops in your local area by walking or cycling. It's cheaper than driving or parking, and not only does it improve local air quality, but it’s great for your mood and physical health.
- Conserve energy - at home, at work, everywhere. Turn off lights and use energy efficient electric appliances. Generating electricity with fossil fuels is a major source of pollution, so switch off unless you really need it. You can also choose a power supply which is 100% renewable like E.ON4, and even consider solar panels for a more sustainable energy option. You can find more information about how to save energy at eonenergy.com/clean-air
- Avoid burning. Domestic burning has increased over the last decade. Burning solid fuels, such as in open fires and wood-burning stoves have a significant impact on air pollution. Avoid burning leaves and rubbish in your garden too.
Notes to editors
- Research conducted by Census wide on behalf of E.ON October 2020 with a survey of 4063 respondents.
- DEFRA, BBC News, April 2020.
- The DEFRA Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) tells you about levels of air pollution and provides recommended actions and health advice. For more information, go to http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/
- Electricity backed by 100% renewable sources. E.ON's renewable generation assets, agreements with UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to your home comes from the National Grid and DNOs.