Chancellor Gordon Brown has called on households to do more to cut greenhouse gases by making homes better insulated and more fuel-efficient.
Mr Brown said families would have to 'count the carbon'
He told the BBC people had to "count the carbon as well as the pennies" and that tax breaks could be offered.
The draft Climate Change Bill, due out on Tuesday, will call for a 60% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
But Conservative leader David Cameron urged ministers to set annual, not just long-term, targets.
The environment is seen as a key battleground ahead of the next general election.
Mr Brown told the BBC: "We've got to get the balance right between taxation and regulation and we've got to recognise the importance of information."
Higher tax for frequent flyers
Fuel duty or VAT on domestic flights
Flight tax linked to carbon emissions
Annual carbon dioxide targets
He added that better home insulation and other environmental improvements could save households £5 a week and reduce the UK's carbon output by five million tonnes.
Standby switches on electrical goods had to go, as did old-fashioned lightbulbs, which were not as fuel efficient as the latest ones.
Mr Brown also said: "I know the British people want to do the right thing.
"We've got to help make it possible... If you take the home - by first eliminating standby, which is wasteful of electricity, then by removing the short-life electric bulbs and replacing them with long-life bulbs, then by completing insulation - and there are eight million homes to be insulated - we can make a huge difference."
Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050
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He added: "I think we are going to have to cut the carbon as well as the pennies."
The European Union has agreed a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, as compared with 1990 levels, or 30% if other developed nations agree to take similar action.
At the weekend, the Conservatives launched proposals including taxing frequent fliers and a tax on flights based on the level of carbon emissions.
In a speech in London earlier, Mr Cameron said: "Without annual rate-of-change targets, it's too easy for the timetable to slip.
"And once it has slipped, it's much harder to make up the difference later."
But Mr Brown said Conservative policies on flights would do "huge damage to business and the consumer".
They were "ill-thought out and ill-considered", he added.
Homes accounted for 25% of the UK's emissions, far more than those from aviation, Mr Brown said.
The Green Alliance criticised the government's environmental credentials, saying Tory plans for new aviation taxes showed they were more radical.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell told BBC News 24 the Conservative proposals for a package of taxes on air travel was a "step in the right direction", but questioned their ability to take tough decisions on the environment.
He said: "What you should do is not tax individual passengers but tax aircraft movements.