Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

By Paul Harding

Why am I measuring my carbon footprint? Because my daily activities impact the environment. Understanding these impacts is the first step to reducing them.

It’s also a way to see how significant improvements can be the result of seemingly small changes in behavior. Some changes are obvious, like reducing the miles I travel by car or cutting back on electrical
or heating use in my home.

Paul HardingYou can use a carbon footprint calculator to find out how your daily activities impact our environment. Simply gather your recent utility bills, find out the fuel efficiency of your vehicles, and calculate the total miles you drive per year.

Enter the information in the calculator—it should take about 10 to 15 minutes—to estimate your potential savings.

You will quickly notice that driving has the biggest impact. I calculated that if I ride my scooter to work fifty percent of the time (or 115 trips) instead of driving my car, I will save $233 a year and reduce my CO2 emissions by 1677 lbs. If I replace just one trip a week by riding my bike or taking mass transit, I will save $170.00 and 1062 lbs of CO2. My round trip commute is only 20 miles. Imagine what you can save if you travel farther!

At home, the easiest way to start reducing your carbon footprint is to cut back on your power use. I have replaced most of my incandescent lights with LED and compact fluorescent bulbs, but there are still more I can change out.

We remodeled our home and were able to add insulation to walls that weren’t insulated when our home was built in the early 1960’s. We replaced one old furnace with two smaller, high-efficiency units and installed a three zone system that allows us to heat only the areas we are using at the time.

I have found that we can be comfortable at 76 degrees during summer months and at 68 degrees in winter. We also use a programmable thermostat to manage our heating and cooling systems efficiently.

Taking steps, like setting our water heater on a lower temperature and washing clothes in cold water whenever possible. We only run the dishwasher when full and then only at night during off-peak time. We have also offset our impacts through purchasing a small percent of our electricity as Blue Sky Renewable Energy.

The calculator provided by Pacific Power will let you see just what sort of difference you can make.

Take a few minutes to calculate your carbon footprint today, try out some energy-saving tips during the 12 Days of Earth Day, and calculate your carbon footprint at the end of the 12 Days.

You may be surprised at how small changes in your everyday life can have a big impact on the environment.

I am a Utah native, and  graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I’ve worked at DEQ for 20 years, the first 15 in the Underground Storage Tank Program and the last five in the Office of Planning and Public Affairs in business assistance. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live with my partner/fiancé of 23 years, Brett, and our three dogs Sarge, Frankie, and Bernie.

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