What Is My Carbon Footprint and How Can I Reduce It?

What Is My Carbon Footprint?

“Carbon footprint” is the term used to describe how much carbon is released by an individual, group, or other entity. A carbon footprint can be calculated based on your typical activities. While most individuals on the planet generate an average of 4 tons per year, the typical U.S. citizen releases approximately 16 tons per year. You can easily estimate your personal carbon footprint online to get an idea of how much carbon you release as a result of your taking care of your needs and the choices you make. You might be surprised. Read on to learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Why Does It Even Matter?

Every cause has an effect – and increased carbon dioxide levels can be costly. Carbon-based molecules are known to “trap” heat wherever they exist, including in the upper atmosphere. We need this heat to survive, but when carbon levels increase, it can trap a lot more heat than usual and displace oxygen and ozone. Carbon dioxide levels are at the highest average levels they have ever been since we started keeping track, as well as the highest that they have been in more than 800,000 years (based on core samples).

Costly Air Pollution, Health and Weather Disruption

Although the Earth’s temperature naturally fluctuates widely over millions of years with ice ages and “hothouse” periods coming and going, humans today depend on a rather narrow temperature range for the stability of the civilization we have built. Although it would take a tremendous increase in CO2 (that we are unlikely to see) to lead to the suffocation, seizures, and death that has earned carbon dioxide such a bad reputation, the type of higher CO2 levels we’re actually witnessing are contributing to air pollution and may promote plague and disease outbreaks that can create costly impacts on human health. There is also some concern that the average temperature of our planet is not only the hottest it has ever been since the last interglacial period (roughly 125,000 years ago), but that all graphs based on data from around the world show temperatures increasing rapidly. This global higher temperature tends to disrupt weather patterns and cause personal effects on your life – and your wallet.

Unstable Temperatures

While higher temperatures might sound like a great idea for everyone who enjoys warmer weather, the actual effects aren’t always as pleasant, or as clear-cut, as we imagine. For example, when this warmer air enters a cold region (such as the North Pole), that cold northern air can be displaced. Often it is forced southward into our area, bringing with it bitter cold temperatures that can cause heating bills to skyrocket. The temperature of this upper air mass can also fluctuate widely during other seasons, too, making weather systems more unpredictable. Some of the effects can include increased ice melt in the permafrost and the loss of glaciers, rising sea levels, acidification of the ocean, coral bleaching, and some other results that hit closer to home.

Expensive Property and Environmental Damage

Extreme Weather Events – Stronger and more dangerous hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, lightning, heat waves, and droughts can happen (and occur outside typical areas where we are not prepared to handle them). This severe weather can damage our homes and property and end up costing us more in repairs. View U.S. Climate Extremes Index.

Effects on Plants and AnimalsCrop failures are one of the most worrisome effects of dramatic shifts in temperatures and can make the price of many of our favorite foods cost more. Animals are also being found in unusual locations and in higher numbers in some areas, while vanishing from others. Bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and parasites (including ticks and mosquitos in West Virginia) are also moving into new areas or staying active for longer periods of time in their usual territories. These are making people sick.

Too much of anything isn’t likely to be good, especially something like carbon dioxide. Whether your main concern is decreasing your carbon footprint or slashing your energy expenditures, the two are intimately related – and Climatrol can help.

Why Are Carbon Levels Rising?

One of the main ways carbon dioxide is being released into the air is by releasing the carbon that was previously securely bound in fossil fuels. When we burn fuel to generate the power we need to heat and cool our homes and enjoy other essentials and conveniences, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons and methane, are set free. These carbon-based substances have well-known chemical properties and some unpleasant effects that we can minimize. While it is impossible to have a “zero” carbon footprint, you can take measures to reduce it.

How Can I Reduce My Carbon Footprint?

You don’t have to make any big sacrifices or alter your way of life to reduce your carbon footprint. Look over your carbon footprint calculation above and see if there are any areas you are comfortable adjusting that would make a meaningful impact. Keep in mind that the more you reduce your carbon footprint, the more money you are likely to save, so taking steps to limit your carbon emissions is almost like putting money in the bank.

Money-Saving Tips

You can decrease your carbon footprint while saving money at the same time! Some low-impact options worth considering include:

-Unplug devices you are not using.

-Buy locally when possible.
-Grow a garden.
-Hang laundry to dry.
-Turn off lights when not in use.
-Walk to nearby destinations instead of driving.
-Add a little more plant matter to your diet (meat and dairy are carbon-intensive).
-Identify and address areas of waste in your life.
-Use reusable bags.
-Switch to a laptop instead of a desktop computer if it will meet your needs.
-Buy ENERGY STAR® certified appliances.
-Have an energy audit done at your home or business.
-Contact Climatrol, Inc. for more information.

Did You Know?

42% of the average energy used is for heating our homes. For many of us in West Virginia, heating and cooling our homes and businesses is one of our main sources of carbon emissions. Often, it is our largest annual expense.

Climatrol Can Help

Climatrol cares about our customers – and our shared environment. We are proud to do our part to help decrease energy consumption by offering a wide selection of ENERGY STAR® certified heating, cooling, and air quality systems, as well as some of the world’s most energy-efficient units with efficiency levels approaching 100%. The Comfort Crew also offers services designed to maximize your home’s use of system output and the efficiency of your existing equipment, which decreases energy usage, improves performance, and allows you to keep more of your hard-earned money. Contact the Comfort Crew to explore all available options that can help you shrink your carbon footprint and your energy bills – without sacrificing your comfort! Call us at: (304) 623-0606.