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
Home Carbon Footprints
Calculating Home Carbon Output
Your personal carbon footprint includes that you generate with
your home. This includes:
Home Structure & Contents
Activities Within the Home - cleaning, cooking, hobbies
The process of calculating the carbon output of your future or current
house is an effective contribution to these global efforts.
Hidden Carbon Deposits
Energy used in the construction of a house needs to be included
in the total house footprint. This includes:
How materials were manufactured
Distance materials travelled to the site
Most architects, especially those certified as 'green' designers,
can either access the data required or at least make an educated
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 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
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
Oil and Coal
Coal is the highest creator of carbon output, as it burns as pure
Oil Calcuation = number of litres used in a year
Coal Calculation = total weight in kilograms X
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, genrally the main energy source within the home has
the biggest impact on the carbon footprint.
Calculation = Total Annual Kwh X 0.43.
Small House - 1,650 Kwh per year;
Medium House - 3,300 Kwh,
Large House - 5,000 Kwh per year.
There are other home carbon outputs that are difficult to estimate,
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
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
Reducing the Heating Level can be achieved by:
Using a low setting for longer periods, rather than short bursts
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
Reducing Electricity - Energy usage in the home
had doubled between 1972 and 2002. Reduce electricity by:
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.