Manageble doses…a quick reference guide for cutting carbon

Someone wrote in to point out the Cooling Man.org site has a great list of simple things a person can do to cut their carbon footprint, so why bury the light under a bushel, as my bishop used to say? Good question, no reason, so here you go:

Direct Actions Effect on GHG (CO2eq) Estimated GHG Offset (CO2eq) Assumptions
Plant a Tree
How? – Listing of Tree Planting Organizations
1 ton absorbed per tree
(over 50-100 years)
Source
0.2 ton per tree planted 10 years growth of tree w/ 50 year lifetime (discounted due to timing and permanence concerns)
Buy Renewable Electricity for Your Home
How? – Listing of Renewable Energy Retailers
Avg. U.S. Home:
10 tons eliminated per year
1.6 lbs eliminated per kWh purchased
Source 1,Source 2
20 tons Average home, 100% renewable electricity, purchased for 2 years
Increase Home Energy Efficiency Electricity: 1.6 lbs eliminated per kWh saved
Gas: 0.1 lb eliminated per cu ft saved (117 lbs per million BTU)
Source
Case by case -
Lighting and Appliances      
Install a compact fluorescent light bulb 150 lbs eliminated per year
Source
0.4 tons Average use for 5 years
Replace 1973 refrigerator with Energy Star refrigerator 1.4 tons eliminated per year
Source
7 tons Average use for 5 years

Want the rest of the list? After the jump—

(Source: RMI)

Direct Actions Effect on GHG (CO2eq) Estimated GHG Offset (CO2eq) Assumptions
Plant a Tree
How? – Listing of Tree Planting Organizations
1 ton absorbed per tree
(over 50-100 years)
Source
0.2 ton per tree planted 10 years growth of tree w/ 50 year lifetime (discounted due to timing and permanence concerns)
Buy Renewable Electricity for Your Home
How? – Listing of Renewable Energy Retailers
Avg. U.S. Home:
10 tons eliminated per year
1.6 lbs eliminated per kWh purchased
Source 1,Source 2
20 tons Average home, 100% renewable electricity, purchased for 2 years
Increase Home Energy Efficiency Electricity: 1.6 lbs eliminated per kWh saved
Gas: 0.1 lb eliminated per cu ft saved (117 lbs per million BTU)
Source
Case by case -
Lighting and Appliances      
Install a compact fluorescent light bulb 150 lbs eliminated per year
Source
0.4 tons Average use for 5 years
Replace 1973 refrigerator with Energy Star refrigerator 1.4 tons eliminated per year
Source
7 tons Average use for 5 years
Heating and Cooling      
Lower thermostat 2 degrees (F) in winter and raise 2 degrees in summer 1 ton eliminated per year
Source
2 tons 2 years
Caulk and weather strip windows and doors 1,100 lbs eliminated per year (upper estimate)
Source
2.8 tons 10 years (50% discount due to high estimate)
Plant shade tress & paint house light (hot climate) or dark (cold climate) color 2.5 tons eliminated per year (upper estimate)
Source
5 tons 2 years (discount due to long time delay)
Insulate walls and ceilings 140 to 2,100 lbs per year
Saves 20-30% of household heating energy
Source
5.6 tons 10 years, mid-range estimate
Super-insulate walls and ceilings in cold climate Gas Heating: 5.5 tons eliminated per year
Oil Heating: 8.8 tons/year
Electric Heating: 23 tons/year
Source
55 tons 10 years, gas heat
Modernize windows (replace w/ argon-filled, double-paned) Gas Heating: 2.4 tons eliminated per year
Oil Heating: 3.9 tons/year
Electric Heating: 9.8 tons/year
Source
24 tons 10 years, gas heat
Water Heating      
Wash clothes in warm/cold (not hot) water Gas Water Heater:
150 lbs eliminated per year
Electric Water Heater:
500 lbs eliminated per year
Source
0.4 tons 5 years, gas heater
Lower water heater 10 degrees (F) Gas Water Heater:440 lbs eliminated per year
Electric Water Heater: 600 lbs/year
Source
0.4 tons 2 years, gas heater
Install low flow showerhead Gas Water Heater: 80 lbs eliminated per year
Electric Water Heater: 300 lbs/year
Source
0.2 tons 5 years, gas heater
Wrap water heater in insulating jacket Gas Water Heater: 220 lbs eliminated per year
Electric Water Heater: 1,100 lbs/year
Source
1.2 tons 10 years, gas heater
Buy a solar water heater 2.5 tons eliminated per year
Source
25 tons 10 years
Increase Transportation Efficiency      
Drive more fuel efficient vehicle
Walk, bike, mass transit, or carpool
~20 lbs eliminated per gallon saved
~1 lb eliminated per mile not driven
Source
Case by case -
Keep tires inflated 510 lbs eliminated per year
Increases fuel efficiency 3%
Source1,Source2
0.3 tons 1 year

About the author: Tom Price

Tom Price is the former Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. Prior to that he was the Environmental Manager for Burning Man during the Green Man theme, and was in the Gulf Coast for six months during the genesis of Burners Without Borders. He's been attending Burning Man since 1997, and he's proud to say that his decade plus streak of breaking down from sun stroke on the playa on day three remains intact.

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