Tackling climate change is a mammoth task.
It is also something that absolutely cannot be done on your own, everyone needs to play their part in reducing their impact on the planet.
But how do we firstly measure how much of an impact we each make?
The best way of doing this is by calculating your carbon footprint by taking your everyday carbon emissions into consideration.
Nearly everything that we humans do will release some amount of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and thus climate change. How much carbon released depends on a wide spectrum of factors, meaning that it is possible to increase or decrease carbon footprint with simple everyday choices.
For a domestic consumer, an example would be a purchasing food at a supermarket. The food will require machinery and resources to grow, harvest, package, and then transport it the place of purchase. From here, more energy will be expended when transporting that food onwards and then cooking it – further increasing the carbon footprint.
Although a relatively simple example, it does outline the complexity to the problem. Simple choices like purchasing local produce can reduce the carbon footprint for a food item. Choosing organic produce that did not use chemical during production will again lower the total amount of resources used.
For commercial consumers, the choices to make are often more difficult in nature. It is difficult to rationalise any changes to production process as there is a risk of becoming less competitive in the bid to lower carbon footprints. This does not mean that it is an insurmountable task, however.
Niccolo Gas and Power – Carbon Calculator
Our free online Carbon Calculator tool asks simple questions about facets of your daily life to calculate carbon footprints. Things like how often you may drive, how often you buy new electrical products, or even how often you eat meat.
Our tool then uses these answers for calculating a single, easily understood number – your carbon footprint. By quantifying all of these question answers into a single figure it makes it incredibly easy for our users to begin making changes to their lifestyles – effectively reducing carbon footprints immediately.
Although this figure is an estimate there is still some pretty serious mathematical work going on behind the scenes. Being in the energy supply business for so long has developed a strong understanding of everything Carbon-related – so our estimates are as accurate as they come!
Don’t believe us…?
We’ll go one further – we’ll even explain exactly how we calculate carbon footprints!
How We Calculate – Travel Emissions
Our boffins multiply the amount of time you spend in use of different types of transport by their average speed, calculating the total miles travelled. This figure is then multiplied by the relevant government emissions factors for the method of transport; bus, train, underground, motorbike, and different types of cars (including diesel, petrol, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and electric).
An emissions factor will then tell you how much CO2e is released per unit of activity, giving you some insight into how damaging each type of transport is. This figure multiplied by how many miles travelled will then give a carbon footprint for that journey.
In order to keep the Carbon calculator both simple to use and insightful, our experts use some UK average emissions factors to calculate land travel. In this case, we use emissions factors for average sized UK cars and motorbikes instead of basing it on small, medium, or large vehicle types. Additionally, we use the emissions factor for average UK local bus emissions rather than taking a London-specific busses. Finally, we also the national train emissions factor rather than international.
We multiply the amount of time you spend in the air flying by the average speed of a plane to calculate the distance travelled. Median figures are used for journeys spanning a large period of time, for example if you select a 4 to 8-hour journey then we use the median figure (6 hours). This is then multiplied with the UK Government emissions factor for the relevant carbon footprint of the flight.
The emissions factors we use include the effect of radiative forcing (the difference between sunlight absorbed by the earth and that which is radiated back into space). This is due to a general consensus within the climate scientist community that radiative forcing should be taken into account when calculating the impact of flying.
We assume during calculations that you fly in economy class, keeping the calculator easy to use. Interestingly, a World Bank report found that by flying business or first class you actually increase the carbon footprint of your journey as fewer people fit into these exclusive cabins.
How We Calculate – Food Emissions
There is detailed scientific literature detailing how much CO2e is produced by different food types. Meat, dairy and eggs are found to be the most carbon-intensive groups as they involve the rearing and transportation of animals over many years.
We use the estimated kg CO2e per serving size of each type of food to multiply with how often they are eaten. For example, beef is known to produce a high amount of CO2 per serving – so if you eat beef three times a week, then this will show up as a relatively large carbon footprint.
How We Calculate – Purchasing Decisions
It is understood that everything we buy will have ‘life cycle emissions’ which are the emissions that occur throughout a product’s life. This is all the way from sourcing raw materials, to manufacturing, to transportation and end-use.
There is readily available data from Carbon Footprint outlining how many tonnes of CO2e are produced per £1 on different products you may buy. We then multiply this by the amount of money spent on clothes, shoes, toiletries, health products, electronics, technology, furniture, and household appliances.
How We Calculate – Home Energy Emissions
Depending on the energy supplier you are contracted to, home energy emissions will vary.
If you answer this section with 100% carbon neutral gas and renewable electricity use at home then there will be no added carbon emissions from the calculator.
However, if you are not with a supplier that provides you with renewable energy (or even if you’re not sure) then we simply use Ofgem data for the average energy usage for UK homes. This is currently 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas each year, which we then multiply by the current UK government emissions factors for the UK average fuel mix.
Baselines – Why Do We Use Them?
Unfortunately, there will be emissions that we still have very little control over.
They still matter, but are very difficult to calculate or change.
To visualise this – we have added in baseline stats to footprint calculator.
Things like our representative share of government services and the production and distribution of food. Emissions from household waste and water usage is also calculated using UK averages.
This is to keep the calculator simple by using questions that we know you know.
Baselines – What Do We Use?
Living in the UK
Each UK citizen will be responsible for significant CO2e emissions for things which they have no control over. Examples of this would be public services like the NHS, armed forces, social services, and schooling.
Even though direct changes cannot be made easily, it is still possible to take action on these through campaigning or pressuring local MPs to make changes.
Each person in the UK will be responsible for food emissions that they cannot control – things like methane emissions from soil management, and carbon emissions from farming and operation of retail stores.
The average UK home produces about 0.975 tonnes of waste each. We use the national average figure for amount of waste recycled and the amount sent to landfill to multiply against the current UK government emissions factors. This is then divided by the number of people living in your home, creating individual footprints.
Each UK home uses about 349 litres of water, daily.
This figure is then multiplied by current UK government emissions factors to calculate emissions from water usage in the average UK home, which is then divided by the number of people living in your home to create an individual footprint.
Niccolo Gas and Power
At Niccolo Gas and Power, we know how important it is to have an energy supplier that is reachable, friendly, and clear.
For many businesses, uncertainty can be paralysing. This is why we spend so long creating free guides, resources, and manning our many contact channels.
So, if you want an energy supplier that offers competitive rates, insightful online resources, and a friendly helping hand – look no further. Contact us today at:
Phone Number: 0131 610 8868
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