Photograph by Allison Turner
How to Help
June 2007
The Big Thaw: How to Help

Figure Out Your Footprint

As you cool your home this summer, you might well be helping to warm up the world. Air-conditioning and other power-hungry appliances are major contributors to the average household’s carbon footprint, a measure of personal impact on climate through the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Average Annual Household Pounds of Carbon Dioxide Saved

If you recycle glass, plastic, and paper.

If you take the bus to work instead of driving.

If you line-dry half your laundry loads instead of using the dryer.

If you maintain a tight seal on your refrigerator door and keep the appliance’s coils clean.

If you replace a 75-watt incandescent lightbulb with a 20-watt compact fluorescent bulb.

Here are some ways to shrink your footprint’s size:

Safe Climate Calculator
Online questionnaires are a way to calculate your current energy use. This calculator includes options for residents of the U.S. and Canada, as well as for other countries.

U.S. Climate Technology Cooperation
This carbon equivalency calculator translates units of greenhouse gases saved into easily understandable equivalents: gallons of gas saved, acres of forest preserved, and more.

The Green Guide
This National Geographic consumer publication and website has many suggestions for following a low-carbon diet. The actual amount of carbon dioxide a household releases depends on the fuel sources used by its energy provider. The average American produces more than 22 tons (20 metric tons) of carbon dioxide each year. For more information on carbon savings, including carbon calculators for each room in the house, see The Green Guide’s Green Home section.