If you’ve done any research on solar panels, you’ve likely seen the term “carbon footprint” thrown around a few times. It’s obvious that most people think your carbon footprint is important, but it’s not always clear exactly what it means, or why it’s so important to the world. You may have a general understanding that your carbon footprint is the sum of your greenhouse gas emissions but you may not know the nitty gritty details of it all.
What Contributes to Your Carbon Footprint?
The most obvious contribution to your carbon footprint is your direct emissions. These are greenhouse gases that you’re actually responsible for. Exhaust that comes out of your car or your furnace are some of the bigger culprits, so begin to think about how much fuel you’re using in terms of gallons of gasoline or oil or therms of natural gas. If you multiply whatever that number is by how much CO2 each gallon or therm produces when burned, you’ll have a rough figure for how much direct emissions you’re putting out.
These aren’t the only contributors to your carbon footprint getting out of hand, but they sure are one of the bigger ones. Other things include the products you use on a day-to-day basis and how they were made as well as your dietary choices.
How Do We Measure It?
Typically, we measure carbon footprints through “CO2 equivalents,” which means that it isn’t just CO2 but other gases, like methane, as well. Calculating your carbon footprint means taking the amount of gases you produce and converting it into however much CO2 it would take to create that impact on the Earth’s temperature. Once you’ve done that, you add that figure to your CO2 emissions which will result in your total carbon footprint. This effectively is a measurement of all gases you contribute to the Earth’s atmosphere that impact the climate.
Why Does Reducing it Matter?
Figuring out your carbon footprint is important for a few reasons. For one, you can break down exactly what you’re doing on a daily basis that has the biggest impact on your emissions and then try to reduce those. It will also show you what you’re spending money most on—energy is costly, and moving to renewable sources of energy like solar isn’t just good for the planet but also for your wallet. These kinds of behaviors also tend to use up other resources like water, raw materials, and land, which may be in scarcity. Reducing your emissions of greenhouse gases could have a huge impact on these resources as well.
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