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Endesa - Electricity, Gas, People

How to calculate your carbon footprint

Published on August 21, 2017

A carbon footprint measures the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activities into the atmosphere. It can be calculated for a company or for a product but also for a person. Because you are causing more pollution than you think. And it is up to you to reduce this. 

You may at some point have heard about a carbon footprint. It refers to the number of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by each person, company product or service. Or did you think only large industries cause pollution? You do too!  

Each Spanish household emits an average of 12.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. An amount that continues to increase despite the financial recession, increasing by almost 25% over the last two decades. Most of this pollution is related to energy consumption: electricity, gas and petrol/diesel. 

However, beyond these averages, there are vast differences between the footprint of one company and another or between the footprint of one person and another. Pollutant emission levels vary depending on routines and behaviours. All of this can be measured and it has a simple explanation. Think about it. How often do you use your car? Have you any idea how many kWh of electricity you use each month? Do you recycle everything, or just a little, or nothing at all? 

What is your carbon footprint?

By knowing your carbon footprint, you will get an idea of the damage that you and only you, are doing to the planet. This is  the first step towards becoming aware and trying to reduce this damage as much as possible (although you will always leave some form of footprint during your life on this planet). This is the first step to changing your routines and becoming a better tenant on Planet Earth. 

There are plenty of ways to measure your carbon footprint and, obviously, it is not done in the same way for a country as for a company or a person. There is not even consensus regarding the factors to be taken into account and those that can be dismissed. In general terms, monthly or annual measurements are taken, with particular variables such as: 

  • How much energy your home consumes (electricity, gas, butane, propane, coal, pellets…).
  • What are your transport habits (on foot, car just for you or sharing with others, bicycle, public transport, if you fly often or just a little…).
  • The food you buy and your everyday diet (producing and transporting some foods – for example meat – has a much more significant environmental impact that producing others). 
  • Other habits.

In order to know how many greenhouse gases you emit, you can use various calculators provided by God - the Internet and its prophet - Google. Thank goodness for them!  

It is not only companies that cause pollution. You do too. Erase your footprints!

Use the calculator

In order to calculate your individual footprint, we recommend you the Twenergy calculator.  You answer simple questions about your home and in a few clicks you know how many CO2 tons you are emitting into the atmosphere each year and if this is more or less than the national average. 

Another one of the most popular and comprehensive calculators is  Carbon Footprint. It enables you to choose the term you want to measure (minimum one month) and it will indicate a target with areas for improvement in order to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Reduce your carbon footprint

Once you have the diagnosis – your carbon footprint – you can start reducing it. At first it may seem like a huge task, but it is important to remember that it only takes a few small changes to significantly reduce your environmental impact:  

  • 1. Disconnect all the electrical appliances you don’t use. Some electrical appliances in your home use more energy than you think and they don’t always have to be plugged in. We are not asking you to unplug your refrigerator (unless you are going on a long holiday), but, what is the point of leaving the television, the DVD, the Hi-Fi and your laptop on standby? Why have three or four chargers plugged in when they are not connected to a mobile or a tablet? Not to mention leaving the lights on in rooms when there is nobody in them. This battlefront is essential and apart from reducing your carbon footprint, it will help you save money on your electricity bill.
  • 2. Clean your refrigerator. It may seem silly, but the more plastic bags and packages you have in your refrigerator, the more energy it will consume, since it will need more power to keep your food cold.
  • 3. Use environmentally-friendly transport. Whenever possible, leave your car or motorbike and use your legs or a bicycle to get to your destination. If you must travel a fair distance, choose public transport (and ask your town council to renew its fleet of buses so they are more environmentally-friendly).
  • 4. Recycle. There is no excuse and surely you are not so cynical as to hide behind the urban legend that says everything gets mixed together in the end. It is not true and there is a fully structured circuit for the collection and recycling of glass, cardboard/paper, plastic, batteries, medicine… And while we are on the subject, if you go shopping, take a fabric bag or a trolley with you so you don’t have to use plastic bags unnecessarily.

Now you know what a carbon footprint is. Now you know how to reduce it. Now you simply have to do your bit. All together, we can maximise our impact to improve our ecosystem.

If one person changes their routine, we won’t change the world. If we all do it, we will create a new world.