As climate change continues to be a major issue worldwide, we often hear terms like “global warming” and “carbon footprint,” but you may not know what these terms mean. Understanding and calculating your carbon footprint is a good first step toward reducing your negative impact on the environment and living a cleaner, greener life.
Whether at work, school, or home, the activities you do, the food you eat, and your daily habits all have an impact on your carbon footprint. Taking time to review that impact on the environment can help you find ways to change daily habits and contribute to creating a healthier planet for everyone.
In this guide, we will help you learn about the importance of understanding your footprint, how to calculate your household footprint, and how to reduce your carbon footprint’s impact on the environment.
What is Your Carbon Footprint?
So, what is a carbon footprint? An individual’s carbon footprint is their personal impact on the health of the planet. In more technical terms, your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases you produce through daily activities like transportation, the energy you use, the food you eat, and the products you consume.
Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are major contributors to global warming and climate change, so the more we can limit our greenhouse gas emissions, the healthier the planet will be.
Average Carbon Footprints
The average carbon footprint for a person living in the United States is 16 tons a year—one of the highest rates in the world. In fact, the average global carbon footprint is just a quarter of the American average, at 4 tons.
To have the best chance to combat the effects of climate change and avoid a further rise in temperatures, experts have estimated the average global carbon footprint should be reduced to less than 2 tons by the year 2050.
Why Knowing Your Carbon Footprint Matters
Calculating your carbon footprint can be important to understanding the impact that your behavior has on global warming and climate change. With a clearer idea of your own carbon footprint, you can better strategize ways to reduce your impact on the environment and contribute to a healthier planet.
If you want to reduce your contribution to climate change, keeping track of your carbon footprint can help you be more aware of eco-friendly alternative habits to add to your life.
What is My Carbon Footprint?
There are a variety of ways to calculate your carbon footprint, and all require math and research on your part. You can use a free online carbon footprint calculator or review your habits and energy usage and use the following formula to determine your household carbon footprint yourself:
- Multiply your monthly electric bill by 105.
- Multiply your monthly gas bill by 105.
- Multiply your monthly oil bill by 113.
- Multiply your total yearly mileage on your car by .79.
- Multiply the number of flights you have taken in the past year that were four hours or less by 1,100.
- Multiply the number of flights you have taken in the past year that were four hours or more by 4,400.
- Add 184 if you do not recycle newspaper.
- Add 166 if you do not recycle aluminum and tin.
- Add #1-8 together for your total carbon footprint.
The final number is your carbon footprint in pounds. Anywhere from 16,000 to 22,000 pounds is average, while anything under 16,000 (or 8 tons) is considered ideal. If your number is over 22,000, you definitely want to consider making some adjustments to your habits to lower your carbon footprint.
Keep in mind that this is just an estimate, but it can give you an idea of your carbon footprint and help you determine changes you can make to reduce your environmental impact.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Many of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint are simple habits that you can change in your daily routine. Even small things like turning lights off when you leave a room could have a big impact, helping to limit your overall carbon footprint and saving energy and money on your monthly utility bills.
Switch to LED Light Bulbs
Switching out traditional incandescent light bulbs for LEDs is a simple change you can make to your home. Not only are LEDs more energy-efficient, but they last longer and could save you a significant amount of money on your monthly electricity bills.
Watch Out for Energy Vampires
Many electronics and small appliances in your home continue to use electricity, even when turned off or in standby mode. Known as “energy vampires,” these devices can add to your energy consumption, so unplug devices that you’re not using, like TVs, gaming consoles, blenders, and other small kitchen appliances. You can plug these devices into a power strip to easily cut electricity to all with the flip of a switch.
Take Shorter, Cooler Showers
The bathroom is a major culprit of both energy and water waste. Small changes like taking cooler, shorter showers could help reduce your electricity use and save water. The environment—and your monthly utility bills—will thank you.
Use Public Transportation
Driving a gasoline-powered vehicle has severe negative effects on the environment, releasing significant greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Take advantage of public transportation options like buses and trains and reduce your drive time as much as possible. If public transportation options aren’t available, talk to friends or coworkers about carpooling to reduce your overall impact on the environment.
Invest in a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
Heating and cooling costs can quickly add up and contribute to your energy consumption. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home based on the time of day, so you can turn down the heat when no one is at home to enjoy it. Even better, you can control a smart thermostat from anywhere with a mobile device, simplifying your home’s climate control.
Consider Renewable Energy
The less reliance you have on the power grid, the lower your environmental impact. You can use renewable energy sources like solar energy and wind energy to generate your own electricity. Solar energy plans, like those available from Gexa Energy, allow you to send any excess electricity you create back to the power grid, helping to provide clean energy to your entire community.
Choose the Right Electricity Provider
Select an energy company that can provide plans to help reduce your carbon footprint and your negative impact on the environment. By taking advantage of things like renewable energy benefits, the right electricity plan can help you save both money and energy. Learn more about Gexa Energy and their 100% renewable plans from environmentally friendly renewable sources.