Ok, so what is a carbon calculator, what do they do, and how can they help you be more sustainable in your daily life?
Briefly, a Carbon Calculator is a computer programme that calculates your Carbon Footprint. This is the approximate amount of carbon dioxide produced by the activities of business, organisations, individuals, families, etc. Anybody or group can get their carbon footprint
It works by plugging information into the computer programme about how we live our lives in terms of how we commute to work or school, how we heat and power our homes, dispose of our waste, etc. This information is then feedback as a carbon footprint. This is usually calculated for the period of one year.
Knowing the carbon footprint of your home or workplace makes it much easier to get involved in reducing that footprint. So, to make this worth the time and effort, take a few minutes to compile the information you might need. That way the calculation you get will be correct for you and not just a guesstimate.
To calculate a carbon footprint, questions are asked around topics such as household/workplace, transport and lifestyle.
In the household/workplace the energy bill is where you will find the information you need to input. This is where your energy provider tells you your carbon emissions, ie, the amount of CO2 produced by the premises as a result of your energy usage during that time period. Your energy provider website will show you specifically how to read your bill.
When it comes to Transport, the best place to find the information required regarding fuel consumption is to look at the Registration Certificate for your car or van, what used to be called 'the logbook'
In this section is where you will find 'waste', probably the biggest indicator; the amount of it, the type it is; what bins you use, etc. Your waste disposal company provides your household or your company with a bill, usually monthly, and this will show you how much stuff in kilogrammes (kg) that you are throwing away. Using the various coloured bins correctly is an ongoing challenge. Your bin provider will be able to guide you as to what goes where. There are charts on their websites and can be easily printed off and stuck to a surface in your kitchen!
And when you are answering the questions, remember Sigmund Freud: "Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise"
There are loads of carbon calculators out there. Choosing the right one for you will depend on your needs, what you want it to tell you: how much carbon does it take to heat your home or factory, what the emissions are from your car (or maybe your company’s fleet) or perhaps how much waste you are generating? Have a look at the links below and choose the one that best suits your needs.
For the individual or a household, it’s exciting to think about ways in which you and your family can get involved in reducing the overall carbon emissions of our planet, the only one we got! Get everyone involved, challenge yourselves, set mini-targets, hold family competitions and have fun while doing your bit!
There is loads of useful advice, guidance and assistance out there to help you reign in your greenhouse emissions thus lowering your carbon footprint. Have a look at Carbon Footprint or the World Wildlife Fund to calculate your footprint. After you have done that there is loads of use advice and guidance on how to reduce your carbon footprint through household energy use reductions and waste management, and a particularly useful site in that regard is the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
The business user of the calculator will be interested in growing their business and lowering their costs whilst increasing their green credentials and making a contribution towards lowering greenhouse emissions nationally. The first step towards managing carbon emissions is to measure them because in business, what gets measured gets managed. Gains for everyone.
We in the EPA, through our Resource Efficiency Programme, offer a range of services, advice and guidance to businesses and institutions on reducing energy and other resources use while maintaining productivity. Have a look at our own National Waste Prevention Programme and Green Business for more assistance.
Ireland 2050: Understanding our energy choices