What is a Carbon Footprint?
There are different ways to define what your carbon footprint is, but the basic definition is "the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person." The more complicated definition is: "A measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions of a defined population, system or activity, considering all relevant sources, sinks and storage within the spatial and temporal boundary of the population, system or activity of interest. Calculated as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) using the relevant 100-year global warming potential (GWP100)."* To calculate the size of your home's carbon foot print, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Household Carbon Footprint Calculator. This will allow you to calculate how much carbon you produce.
What Can I Do to Offset My Carbon Footprint?
There are many simple steps you can take to offset your carbon footprint. Some are very easy to do immediately, like changing a light bulb. Others, like purchasing a car are bigger items that can be considered when it is needed. The best part is that they will have a side effect of saving you money. The chart below shows a few items that you can do and what impact they will have on reducing or offsetting your carbon footprint (numbers are approximate estimations only).
|Action Item||Cost Involved||GHGS Reduction Per Year**|
|Incandescent Light Bulb to CFL||Minimum||34 lbs. per bulb|
|Reduce your kilowatt-hour usage by 20 per month||FREE||200 lbs.|
|Reduce your driving by 20 miles a week||FREE||1,000 lbs.|
|Perform regular maintenance on your vehicles||Minimum||800 lbs.|
|Purchase a vehicle with 10 miles per gallon better gas millage||Significant||3,000 lbs.|
|Recycle your aluminum and steel cans||FREE||500 lbs.|
|Recycle your plastic and glass||FREE||300 lbs.|
|Recycle your paper||FREE||500 lbs.|
|Run your dishwasher only when full||FREE||100 lbs.|
|Enable the power saver feature on your computer and monitor||FREE||100 lbs.|
|Wash clothes in cold water rather than hot||FREE||200 lbs.|
|Purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified washer||Significant||
|Purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified water heater||Significant||120 lbs.|
|Replace old furnace with ENERGY STAR qualified model||Significant||3500 lbs.|
|Purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator||Significant||350 lbs.|
|Replace single pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows||Significant||3000 lbs.|
|Turn your thermostat down by 2 degrees||FREE||300 lbs.|
|Turn up your air conditioner thermostat by 2 degrees||FREE||160 lbs.|
What Difference Can We Really Make?
We have to start small to make a large impact. If one household changes 10 light bulb to ENERGY STAR qualified lamps the total yearly greenhouse gases saved will be approximately 340 pounds. It doesn't sound like a lot, but if 100 houses in your community do the same, then it is 34,000 pounds. If a million houses in your state do the same, now it is 340 million pounds, all by taking a simple step of changing a few light bulbs. 340 million pounds would be the equivalent of removing almost 27,000 cars from the road. Just think what the numbers could be across the country and then globally.
Need More Information?
To learn more about climate change and how to reduce your carbon footprint, Air King recommends the following web sites:
EPA's Climate Control Web Site - http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/
EPA's Water Sense Web Site - http://www.epa.gov/watersense/
EPA's Reduce Reuse Recycle Web Site - http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/
PG&E Carbon Footprint Calculator Site - http://www.pge.com/about/environment/calculator/assumptions.shtml