Using the Carbon Calculator to Gauge Waste

If you haven’t ever figured your household’s carbon footprint, you can follow this link to EPA’s website. The calculator will not only show you how to reduce carbon, but also how to reduce COSTS. I like to reduce carbon and all, but if you tell me I’m going to save $$$ I’m way more interested. The average household of 3 in my midtown Tulsa zip code emits 48,621 lbs of CO2 per year. Let’s see how I compare…

The calculator measures your estimated carbon emissions in three categories: home energy, transportation, and waste. In the home energy category, you must input your average utility usage. Your utilities will provide this number for you in your bill or your online account. You may have to convert the units of measurement. For instance, my gas bill showed me the measured average in decatherms, but the menu option for unit of measurement that corresponded was therms. Now, this is not a complicated conversion, but Google will do it for me and I take advantage of that. I input into Google “1.117 therms to decatherms” and it Google spit out the conversion. (Those of you who can do that in your head are scoffing at me.) You also need to know your car(s’) gas mileage and how much you drive to calculate the emissions from transportation.

I intend to run my carbon footprint calculator once per season. This season’s results include the summer months with peak heat spikes. The calculator shows you your total both before and after suggested ways to improve your emissions. My grand totals were: 38,671 lbs CO2/year currently used, and 38,441 lbs CO2/year if I implement the actions to reduce CO2. For me, those actions would be decreasing the thermostat temperature by 2 degrees this coming winter and enabling the power management features on my computer (no, I haven’t done that before;  yes, I am embarrassed).

carbon 1

Interestingly: there is a vast discrepancy between my average emissions before and after installing our new AC unit in late August. We had some really temperate days this weekend, and evidently only used 19-25 kWh on those days. It was also pretty cool most nights this week, which helped the AC do its job. I ran the calculator by averaging the last 7 days’ kWh consumption and multiplying it by 4 to arrive at a monthly average of 170 kWh. This screen shot is from my PSO smart meter report.

daily usage

So, by averaging 170 kWh per month, it changes our calculated carbon footprint to 17,054 lbs CO2/year (21,617 lbs CO2/yr less than the original calculation).

Carbon 2

I’m not going to jump to the conclusion that this is my new carbon footprint post-new AC, but I like this number a whole lot better. This number means I’m saving a lot more money and fuel.

What do you think about the Carbon Footprint Calculator? What are your questions about it? How can you reduce your carbon footprint?

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