Living with friends or lodgers

Last updated Wednesday 2 July 2008

Co-habiting cuts your costs and your carbon

Home alone? You're not the only one: in the 'Bridget Jones' generation, one in three homes contains only a single occupant. Whatever the reason for having your own place, are there costs beyond the bills?

More of us are living alone than ever before, and while you might think single occupancy would lower a household's emissions, in fact home emissions are on the rise. Many of our domestic energy needs do not diminish significantly just because the number of occupants is lower - so a one-person household uses more energy per person than a full house.

Moving in with a friend or taking in a lodger can halve your home's climate impact at a stroke. Few other actions achieve emissions reductions faster - or save you as much money.

Read more below
Photo: Living with friends or lodgers

Saves about 2,500kg of CO2 a year

159 Bloomers are doing this

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How will it make a difference?

Home emissions account for about a quarter of the UK's total climate impact. A single-person household uses more of almost everything per person than a four-person household, consuming:

  • Twice as much electricity and gas
  • 70% more packaging waste
  • 60% more products - 1.6 tonnes instead of one

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What's stopping me?

Pub Fact

  • Moving from the average semi-detached house to a terraced property can save about 6500kWh of gas heating - cutting bills by about 200 and emissions by about 1.25 tonnes of CO2
  • British men aged from 25 to 44 are twice as likely to live alone as women
  • Three quarters of British people have only ever lived with one person
  • Between 1971 and 1991 the average size of households in Great Britain declined from 2.9 persons to 2.5
  • The number of single homes in the UK is predicted to double in the next 20 years
  • Between 1971 and 1998, the overall proportion of one-person households almost doubled from 17% to 31%
  • Two million couples in the UK are Living Apart Together - in long-term monogamous relationships without co-habiting

"I need my personal space"

Living alone has its perks - research suggests we're less likely to split up with partners when living apart. But getting housemates can greatly benefit your health and happiness too - and even reverse the effects of ageing. (Read more in New Scientist).

"Won't taking in a lodger mean lots of financial complications?"

Thanks to the government's Rent-a-Room scheme, the profits you make from rental income can be tax-free - on the condition that your rental income and balancing charges do not exceed 4,250. Read more about about it on this HMRC fact sheet or on Direct Gov. You can also contact your nearest Tax Enquiry Office or Tax Office for more details: HMRC.

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