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Carbon Neutral Homes

 

A principle part of caring for our planet and countering the impact of human civilisation on the natural habitat is measured in terms of Carbon Footprint. This refers to the amount of carbon emmitted during a particular activity, compared to the carbon absorption.

Every human and every home has a carbon footprint.

Personal Carbon Footprints

Personal carbon footprints include their share of emissions from the home. For example, if 4 people live in your home, then divide the total home output by 4, and assign a quarter responsibility for the total emissions to each person. This generally works out in the region of between 1,000 to 6,000 kg per annum.

The ideal figure for an individual, living within a sustainable carbon budget is up to 1,000 kg. Currently, an average American carbon footprint is 19,800 kg. An average Indian carbon footprint is 1,200 kg.

Typically, the poorer cultures have lower personal footprints.

Add to this out of home carbon contribution in travel and good purchased.

 

Home Carbon Footprints

Calculating Home Carbon Output

Your personal carbon footprint includes that you generate with your home. This includes:

  • Home Construction
  • Home Structure & Contents
  • Activities Within the Home - cleaning, cooking, hobbies
  • Home Demolition
  • Landscaping
  • Environmental Control


The process of calculating the carbon output of your future or current house is an effective contribution to these global efforts.

 

Hidden Carbon Deposits


Home Construction

Energy used in the construction of a house needs to be included in the total house footprint. This includes:

  • Any demolition
  • Materials used
  • How materials were manufactured
  • Distance materials travelled to the site
  • Building process

Most architects, especially those certified as 'green' designers, can either access the data required or at least make an educated guess.

Once you have an estimate, you can look at ways to reduce the carbon footprint by sourcing materials closer to home, seeking out more carbon neutral options and planting trees.

 

Household Energy Outputs

Heating is the biggest source of energy in domestic households.

Gas

Gas is the most common form of energy used. You can calculate your annual gas energy output from your previous bills. Use the figures for kilowatt-hours (Kwh) instead of metered units. Typcial outputs are:

  • Small House - 10,000 Kwh per year
  • Medium House - 20,500 Kwh per year
  • Large House - 28,000 Kwh per year.

To convert this figure into carbon emissions, multiply the total by 0.19.

Oil and Coal

Coal is the highest creator of carbon output, as it burns as pure carbon dioxide.

Oil Calcuation = number of litres used in a year X 2.975.

Coal Calculation = total weight in kilograms X 2

Wood Burners

Wood is regarded as relatively carbon neutral, as most wood forests are renewed. However, there are a number of toxins that are released from wood that must be considered, and in many areas, smoke from coal and wood burning fires is causing excessive air pollution.

Electricity

Electricity, genrally the main energy source within the home has the biggest impact on the carbon footprint.

Calculation = Total Annual Kwh X 0.43.

Typcially,

  • Small House - 1,650 Kwh per year;
  • Medium House - 3,300 Kwh,
  • Large House - 5,000 Kwh per year.

Other Outputs

There are other home carbon outputs that are difficult to estimate, such as:

  • Rubbish Disposal in landfills

 

Total Home Carbon Output

Total all the figures to get the total carbon emission for your home. This is your annual carbon output.

  • A small house should be in the region of 4613.5 kg of carbon emissions annually.
  • A large house outputs around 12,990 kg of annual carbon emissions.

 

Video - Carbon Neutral Building [3:24]

 

Managing Carbon Footprints In The Home

The principal sources of carbon output in the home are gas and heating.

Reducing the Heating Level can be achieved by:

  • Using a low setting for longer periods, rather than short bursts on high
  • Using an energy efficient thermostat on your system
  • Monitoring heating bills
  • Ensure you have cavity wall insulation
  • Ensure lofts have insulation to a minimum depth of 30 cm. Check to see if you are eligible for any grants from your local Energy Saving Trust.

 

Reducing Electricity - Energy usage in the home had doubled between 1972 and 2002. Reduce electricity by:

  • Reducing dependence
  • Shutting machines off when not in use - dont leave them on standby. Remove the plug from the socket .
  • Change your domestic electricity over to a green tariff. offered by electricity supply companies.

Other Carbon-Reducing Options

  • Generating some of your own electricity - solar-powered, wind turbines, or biomass heating.
  • Ensure all appliances are A rated for energy efficiency

Becoming carbon neutral for the householder is a gradual process.

Next: Low Allergen Homes

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