There are many calculators on the web to estimate the global warming emissions of you and your family.
TRENDS IN YOUR CO2e OVER TIME
Two British calculators and our own show your trend in CO2e over time. The trend is very motivating, since it lets you see your improvements. All three have attractive graphs and easy data entry. The British store your data on their websites. Ours keeps your data on your own computer in a spreadsheet.
To start, you may want some old electric bills to get meter readings from the past, and car repair bills to get old mileage readings. The calculators also ask for airplane trips and other fuels if you have them. You get an immediate graph of CO2e by day or by month, as far back as you have records. Keep coming back to add to your graph.
CO2List.org's calculator includes more forms of transportation than usual, as well as CO2e embedded in products and imports, and emissions from hydroelectric and nuclear sources. You can enter:
For electricity this calculator is more complete than any other. It uses emissions from the current mix of power sources in any of 200 countries and territories. It includes exploring, processing, burning and delivery of fossil fuels, methane from hydroelectric reservoirs, CO2e from mining and processing nuclear fuel, and from making solar or wind collectors.
CarbonDiet is another calculator which plots data over time. Some nice features include
They ask you to write down the gallons when you buy gasoline/petrol; rather than just miles traveled. You will want to estimate when you forget the number of gallons, or your graph will be incomplete.
CarbonAccount similarly has attractive graphs and easy data entry over time. However it averages all data by month, so it is not as detailed as CarbonDiet or CO2List. Also it does not reflect any changes in your miles per gallon; it estimates gasoline by the odometer readings and assumes a constant miles per gallon for the life of a car. The site asks for a UK postcode and car number (foreigners can get approximations by using postcode SK1 3EH, and car AB51 DVL from UKCar.com). They discuss future desired features. They also explain their methods.
Both CarbonDiet and CarbonAccount omit trains, buses, food, and everything else you buy.
All three above use Open Source code, so you can improve them. CO2List uses Excel. CarbonDiet uses Ruby on Rails. CarbonAccount uses Django, Python, SQL.
TOTAL CO2 FOR A YEAR
Swedish calculator (in Swedish and English) covers "(1) home and energy, (2) travel, (3) food and (4) consumables and waste," so it only has a few sectors. They ask broad categories, not actual miles, gallons, destinations, etc., and report broad categories. The methodology of the English version says it covers various unspecified ecological effects besides global warming. Like the CO2List calculator, it says it covers full input-output effects of CO2 embedded in products, and the extra CO2e embedded in imports.
Berkeley calculators use US energy and consumption patterns, so they do not apply to other countries. Like the Swedish and CO2List calculators above, Berkeley covers input-output effects, though unlike them it excludes imports.
Berkeley has much more detail than most (methodology)
Berkeley also has a calculator for businesses, with much the same information. Like the household calculator it has the good feature of using broad US surveys to estimate a business' average purchases from each sector, and the emissions of that sector. It also lets you decide whether to count employee commutes as part of the business impact; commuting is always counted in their household calculator.
Note: if you control your computer cookies, you need to allow cookies from "coolcalifornia.org" as well as "berkeley.edu."
This has much more detail than most. It
French calculator (in French) asks broad categories of house size, car size, flights, etc., not actual kilometers, liters, destinations, etc. It does add national infrastructure. They call it a "test" not a calculator.
British site which compares 12 Ecological and 10 CO2 Footprint Calculators. Most no longer exist, but the following do:
Ecological Footprint Calculators (12)
The strength of the calculators is to give you an approximation of your own emissions, which may lead you to more urgency in cutting back, and humility about how hard it is to cut deeply.
Calculators convert all greenhouse gases (such as methane and nitrous oxide) to the amount of CO2 which would have the same effect over 100 years. Methane has its strongest effects quickly, and a lot comes from natural gas, hydroelectricity and meat, so their CO2 would be much worse if we looked at the next 20 years.
All calculators have weaknesses. The calculators from CO2List.org, Sweden and Berkeley are the most complete, including food, general spending and indirect effects, not just direct fossil fuel uses.
If a calculator measures fossil fuels only, it omits the CO2 emitted while making everything else you buy, as well as methane from hydroelectric reservoirs and CO2 from mining and processing nuclear fuel. Most companies who report CO2 footprints just measure fossil fuel. If a calculator omits food, it omits the global warming from nitrous oxide released by fertilizer, and methane from animals' digestion and manure.
Use the best calculator you can, and know it is only a more or less complete estimate.The calculators are actually misnamed. They do not estimate Carbon; they estimate CO2-equivalent, which is what you want anyway, to address global warming. The tradition has always been to call them Carbon calculators.
Most calculators do not show CO2e trends, but simply estimate your total CO2e emissions during a year. The first three above, which show your improvements, make it easier to stay motivated.
Many calculators, as noted above, ask broad categories, not actual miles, gallons, destinations, etc. These broad categories mean you cannot see gradual results from most of your efforts, like driving better and less, lowering thermostats, fewer purchases, etc.
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