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Estimate Your Carbon Footprint and Your Own Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Updated on November 20, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John uses scientific (Ph D, Zoology) & research skills to develop reviews & guides for climate change, global warming, environment, water

Like the quest to act sustainably with resources and to be self-sufficient, carbon dioxide emissions are a personal responsibility as well as a national one. Your individual carbon footprint showcases your personal impact.

Your total footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases you produce in units of carbon dioxide via your net activities, such as electrical, oil and gas use, travel (car, train, plane, bike), and consumption of consumer goods and food that release carbon dioxide during processing and transport.

Things such as replacing light bulbs with more efficient LED ones, and using wind and solar power for your home, solar hot water units can make a big difference. However renewable energy is complicated and expensive and there are many simpler things you can do immediately.

We are all in this together and collectively individuals can make a difference. One of the keys to understanding what you can do is the visualize where most of your carbon dioxide emissions are coming from. Is it your electricity use? Is it your daily transport? Is it you airline travel?

This article provides a simple tool for calculating your own carbon footprint and seeing what activity is contributing most carbon dioxide.

One impact of the carbon footprint is on sea level rise and inundation of low lying nations
One impact of the carbon footprint is on sea level rise and inundation of low lying nations | Source
Highest per capita contributors to man made carbon dioxide
Highest per capita contributors to man made carbon dioxide | Source
Ancient footprints of early man preserved in mud turned to stone.
Ancient footprints of early man preserved in mud turned to stone. | Source
Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon
Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon | Source
The impact of various degrees of Global Warming
The impact of various degrees of Global Warming | Source

How to Calculate Your Own Carbon Footpint

There are a number of free online tools with varying degrees of complexity and accuracy:

  • The EPA Tool

To make a very simple estimate of your carbon emissions simply print the table below.

Make the calculations for each of the items shown, using the multipiers and add up the results.

While not as accurate as other methods it will be a good guide in relative terms.

It will show what are the major sources of carbon dioxide for your lifestyle and situation.

This will highlight the changes that are likely to be most effective in reducing your own footprint.

Find the two or three items with the largest totals and these will be the ones you should focus on first.

Experiment with various scenarios to examine how various changes you make will affect the outcome in the results and the totals.

See what sort of changes would be required to reduce your footprint by:

  • 10%
  • 25%
  • 50%
  • 75%

Explore the range of options available to achieve these targets.

Carbon Footprint Calculation Sheet to Estimate Total Tons of Carbon Dioxide You Emit Each Year

Carbon Source
Your Value
Monthly Electricity Bill ($)
Monthly Gas Bill ($)
Monthly Oil Bill ($)
Total Annual mileage for your car (miles per year)
Number of airplane flights less that 4 hours duration
Number of airplane flights more that 4 hours duration
Add 184 if you do not recycle newspapers and other paper
add 185
Add 166 if you do not recycle tin cans and aluminum cans
add 166
(sum the results)

How Do You Compare?

There are a number of general categories for footprint size (Total score in table above):

  • Below 6,000 - Very small footprint - Well Done
  • Above 22,000 - Very large footprint - Urgent Action Required
  • 6000 - 22,000 - Moderate Footprint - Some action required to act more responsibly

How Can I Reduce the Size of My Carbon Footprint?

How to Reduce Your Electricity and Heating/Cooling Bills

  • Unplug Devices when not in use
  • Install a Smart Power meter or use an Electricity Use Tracker (various apps and other tools are available)
  • Power Down Devices that are not being used
  • Switch Off Lights when not being used
  • Replace and clean air filters in your Home to improve efficiency
  • Keep Doors and Windows Closed and install extra insulation
  • Replace Appliances with Energy Efficient Ones
  • Change your Thermostat to more Sustainable Levels
  • Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient LED models
  • Invest in Carbon Offsets

Other Methods

Focus on the two or three other items that contribute most to the results in the table.

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

    The calculator was great fun. My carbon footprint is incredibly low according to your calculator. I don't keep it that way for the reasons you do, but because I was put here to give honor to the creator.

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

    A great share on a very important topic which we cannot fail to take note. Voted up.


  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 4 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    I agree. Its too late. Get over It, Move on, Adapt. Humans will only stop using fossil fuels whe they are all gone.

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

    A good article, Jeez, you're prolific lately! I have problem with all things Green: one thing is so many ecologists, etc., are so militant and don't want to listen to any point of view apart from their own. Climate Change for example. The fact man is polluting the planet and the seas doesn't take in consideration just how many extreme changes have come about over the the many Ice Ages we have recorded. And unless China, India and Brazil, to name just three developing nations, can begin to control their own Carbon Footprints, it will make little difference what we do in Britain.

    Too many scientists arguing this way and that way for the layman to make a positive determination over just what is happening - and likely to happen - with our tiny world.

    But nice hub Bob