Greenhouse gases, greenhouse effect, carbon footprint and many other terms referring to our impact on the environment have become frequent concepts in our daily lives. It is always good to understand what we mean when talking about these issues, and most importantly, to think about what we can do to stop damaging the environment.
Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to switch to greener habits, from simple solutions to greater projects that usually require governmental intervention. In this article we will focus on the carbon footprint and we will provide you with a solution to reduce it.
What Does Carbon Footprint Mean?
Carbon footprint can be defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities and is usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gases can be emitted through transport, land clearance, production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, wood, roads, buildings and services. Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame (typically one year).
Simply put, when driving a car, its engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO2, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. You also generate CO2 emissions when you heat your house with oil, gas or coal. Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO2. When you buy food and goods, some CO2 has been emitted for their production.
Since it is usually more attractive to watch a short video instead of reading a long paragraph, here a video explaining carbon footprint in literally two minutes.
Some Interesting (and very sad) Numbers:
Each of the following activities add 1 kg of CO2 to your personal carbon footprint:
- Travel by public transportation (train or bus) a distance of 6.5 to 7 miles
- Drive with your car a distance of 3.75 miles
- Fly with a plane a distance of 1.375 miles
- Operate your computer for 32 hours (60 Watt consumption assumed)
- Production of 5 plastic bags
- Production of 2 plastic bottles
The carbon footprint of US households is about 5 times greater than the global average, which is around 10 tons CO2 annual emission per household. The most important action to reduce their carbon footprint is driving less or switching to more efficient vehicles.
Quite shocking right? But you shouldn’t panic. There is a lot we can do to reduce our CO2 emissions. Some things are as simple as replacing the car with walking or biking when possible, buy organic food, remember to always switch lights off when you are not using them and so on. You can also be more adventurous and try some more radical changes, like investing in solar energy systems to make use of the energy of the sun for electricity or heat.
Read more: UK Renewable Energy: Facts & Stats
What Does Solar Power Mean?
Solar power refers to energy from the sun, converted to be used either for heating or for electricity, by private households or even businesses. Solar power is generated by a surface that attracts the energy of the sun and a method of converting this energy into electricity or heat. This method can be either direct using solar panels for electricity, or indirect using a solar thermal collector to generate heat.
The good thing about switching to solar power is that once the initial investment to install the desired system has been done, then the energy resulting from the system is free. Plus, there are tariffs that pay you for the green energy you produce, and if you are connected to the grid, then you can sell your surplus electricity to you energy supplier and get paid for that as well. Moreover, both solar panels and solar thermal collectors need almost no maintenance once they have been installed.
What we are most interested in this case is that solar power is green. Why so? Because it relies exclusively on the energy of the sun, which is not only free and always available, but also green. Whatever solar system you choose to install, it will make no noise. It just needs some roof space for the panels to attract enough sunlight.
What Are You Waiting For?
Put like this, it seems like a very convenient solution to reduce your carbon footprint. However, you might have some troubles finding the right supplier and some answers to your question. There are sites which will provide you not only important information about green energy sources, but also allow you to request a quote. You can visit GreenMatch.co.uk to request you quote (for free!) and you will receive information from different suppliers, which you can use to make an informed purchase.
Remember that it is important, apart from installing a solar system, to improve your household’s insulation, window placement and shading in order to maximize the use of natural energy. You should also keep in mind that apart from taking advantage of solar energy, there are other things to do in order to reduce your carbon footprint. So I invite you to be creative and be green. Why not bike to work this week?