For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Calculate your impact

Obligatory disclaimer...
As I was looking at the site for the dvd we were just watching, I clicked on a link to an impact calculator. Here are my results.

My estimated total emissions for our family of four is 7,946 pounds of greenhouse gases per year.
The average US household emissions is 41,500 pounds per year.

There are problems with the calculator, however.

Under transportation, one side is for "Your current transportation energy use and emissions." It assumes you have a vehicle and asks how many miles you drive a year. I left that at 0 since we don't have a vehicle, but what do I answer for mileage? I left it at the default of 22 miles/gallon. On the other side of that section, "how to save energy and emissions," it asks what the mileage of your vehicle is. There's no alternative answer for someone who doesn't have a vehicle. The minimum is 10 miles, but how can I answer that, since *all* our miles are alternative? I left it at 10. Next, it reads "buy a vehicle that gets more miles per gallon." You get to choose from 30, 40, 50 or 60 miles per gallon. We don't have a vehicle to replace, and we're not planning to buy one. So my answers for this section puts me at an artificial high for emissions.

The next section is on how you heat your home, and what your average bills are. We are in an apartment with electric heat. Our bill is extremely low, since we're kept warm as much by the building we're in as by our own thermostat settings. We also don't use oil or natural gas at all, so those were left blank. The other side, on how to save or reduce, reads "replace 75 watt incandescent bulbs with 25 watt compact florescent." It allows you to choose from 1 to 12 bulbs. I have no intention of switching to CFL bulbs because of the mercury in them, as well as the type of light I need. Many of the lights in our home aren't 75 watt incandescent bulbs in the first place. We have halogen lamps, the kitchen is standard florescent lighting, and our bathroom fixtures use the small "chandelier" bulbs. Actually, I don't think we have *any* 75 watt bulbs at all. I've got a couple of 100's, but most are much lower (the chandelier bulbs). I am looking into household LED bulbs, which don't have mercury and are also amazingly energy efficient. If I can find them, and if they really do provide the excellent lighting I've read that they do, I would love to replace those bulbs that can be replaced with them. So my answer of 1 is inaccurate.

Next, it reads "in the summer, turn up your air conditioner thermostat by:" then it gives you a choice of 5, 10 or 15 F. Since we don't have an air conditioner either, I left it at 5.

It also lets you mark check boxes for replacing fridge and windows with more energy efficient ones. Since we rent, we have no control over either and won't be replacing them. I didn't select any of them. Again, my numbers are skewed.

Under consumption, it asks you to check of items you recycle - newspapers, plastic, glass, etc. We recycle all of them, so it automatically checked off the same selections on the other side.

Ironically, the summary suggested the following ways I could do better. I could buy a vehicle (instead of walking or using public transit, as we already do) that gets 40 miles to the gallon, then reduce my driving by 10 miles per week (which is currently at 0 miles per week). I could also buy an air conditioner, then set it to 5F higher than... whatever is isn't right now, since we don't have one. By doing that, plus replacing my one bulb with a CFL, it tells me I could reduce my emissions by 462 pounds per year.

So for our family, the results under transportation are much higher than they should be. Our home energy use is skewed, too. Consumption is as "good" as it gets. Even so, our greenhouse gas emissions are 33,554 pounds less than the average US household.

Can't say the calculator is much use for our family.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Drop me a line...