After yesterday’s post on the amount of energy the US uses I was curious how my move affected my carbon footprint. The average American uses on average 20.40 metric tons of carbon. So where do I fit?
Living in the Studio apartment I had gotten my footprint down to 4.2 metric tons of carbon. My goal at that time was to reduce my footprint to no higher than 3.0 metric tons. Sadly, I never reached that goal but I was happy enough.
Then I moved. The goal was to have my own land which would give me more control over producing as much of my food as possible. Living in an apartment setting where everyone had access to your gardens you had to trust people not to pick what you were counting on consuming yourself. Usually it was just my strawberries new tenants, and their children, would gravitate to but there was also a large deer population to share with as well.
The first thing I did, after cleaning, upon moving in was to caulk and insulate the doors and windows. The first floor consists of a small bathroom, living room, kitchen and bedroom. The upstairs is closed off during the colder months to keep from heating that space. I still have more work to do such as adding insulation in the walls.
If you have a solidly built home it might be more energy efficient than a smaller home that is poorly constructed. One example would be heating bills. My son is renting a very old mobile home that has zero insulation. His winter heating bills averaged $360 per month whereas my highest bill was for February at $115.
I ran the calculations on my footprint again today. I knew there had to be an increase from what I used in the studio but held my breath as I clicked to receive the results.
My total carbon use for the last twelve months was…..6.24 metric tons! I can live with that for now as I know I’ll reduce that number in the next year or two as I continue to make changes here.
The thing is there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to reducing carbon in our atmosphere than household consumption. If you are reading this I know you aren’t living high on the hog and enjoying life in a McMansion. Compare the average American household CO2 level of 20.40 metric tons to just one coal fired power plant.
In 2005 the average coal-fired power plant in the US emitted 4,643,734 metric tons of CO2 (epa.gov). That’s right, those are all commas. 4.6 million metric tons of CO2
What I want to stress to you today, and to myself, is that while it’s important to make conscious decisions on how we choose to live we as individuals can’t heal the planet on our own. We need the system to change.