Want to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? It’s Easy.

Residential neighborhood

First things first: What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by our collective actions.

Your carbon footprint includes the total amount of GHG – including carbon dioxide and methane – generated when you drive to work, take a flight, consume certain foods and goods, and power your home. (Note: If you’re curious about the size of your footprint, this EPA tool can help you make the calculation.)

You've likely heard scientists and climate experts state that, to avoid drastic consequences from rising temperatures, we need to reduce the average global carbon footprint to less than two tons by 2050. For perspective, the average American's annual global footprint is about 16 tons; globally, the average is closer to four tons.

How your home energy usage affects your carbon footprint

The source of your energy plays a significant factor in your carbon footprint. In the U.S., residential energy use accounts for roughly 20 percent of GHG emissions.

One of the simplest ways to significantly improve your own footprint is to consume lower-carbon or renewable energy at home. Though the North American power grid is still a ways off from total decarbonization through renewable energy, it’s worth noting that doing so would allow the residential sector to meet the 28 percent emissions-reduction target as outlined by the Paris Agreement.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

Because energy consumption is responsible for much of your personal emissions, the most significant way to reduce your carbon footprint is by greening-up your energy usage with a cleaner source, whether that’s solar, green electricity or carbon-neutral natural gas.

There are several other ways you can reduce your impact, including:

  • When buying a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR label, which certifies that the item is energy efficient.
  • Shop close to home. By shopping locally – or consolidating your online orders – you can reduce the distance your goods travel and, in turn, transportation emissions.
  • Use cold water to wash your clothes. Ninety percent of the energy consumed in washing a load comes from the heating water.

Check out this article for more energy-efficiency tips and ideas.

How much energy are you consuming?

The U.S. Department of Energy shares four ways to help you estimate how much energy your home appliances use:

  1. Check your appliance for an Energy Guide label with a usage estimate.
  2. Install a usage monitor to find out how much a specific appliance uses.
  3. Use the U.S. Department of Energy’s formula to calculate the daily and annual energy consumption and the cost to run the appliance.
  4. Install a whole-house energy monitoring system for details on which appliances are using the most energy so you can find opportunities to reduce.
  How to make the switch to a cleaner energy source

Making the switch to a cleaner energy source takes only a few minutes – and doesn’t involve installation, a service call, or an interruption to your service. Here’s how it works:

  • Explore options where you live.
  • Review product and choose the length of your term. Have your utility bill handy so that you can compare kWh for green electricity or CCF for carbon-neutral natural gas.
  • If you choose to enroll in clean energy with IGS Energy, you’ll see a line on your utility bill that notes IGS as your supplier. It’s that easy.

Learn more about going green at home