A carbon footprint, in essence, is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are directly or indirectly attributed to a particular individual, organization, or event. Anything that emits or creates larger amounts of greenhouse gas emissions is said to have a larger carbon footprint, or to release more of these gases into the atmosphere. These emissions are measured in units of carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which takes into account the varying potency of different greenhouse gases.
There are many activities that contribute to a person or entity's carbon footprint. For example, driving a car or taking a flight generates CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Producing and consuming food, as well as manufacturing and transporting goods, also generates significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Even the electricity we use to power our homes and workplaces, if it comes from non-renewable sources, contributes to our carbon footprint.
Why does our carbon footprint matter? The answer lies in the fact that greenhouse gases, including CO2, trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming. The more greenhouse gases we emit, the more the planet warms, leading to more frequent and severe weather events, rising sea levels, and damage to ecosystems and wildlife. In short, our carbon footprint is a measure of our impact on the planet's climate and environment.
How Can You Lessen Your Carbon Footprint?
In the case of carbon dioxide, the largest carbon footprint in the United States belongs to the transportation sector, which relies on the burning of fossil fuels to power cars, trucks, planes, and ships. Other entities with high CO2 emissions include power plants, industrial yards, and commercial and residential buildings. Another dangerous greenhouse gas, methane, is primarily the result of the oil and gas sector. The production and distribution of natural gas releases methane into the atmosphere, leaving a significant carbon footprint as a result.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which we can reduce our own carbon footprints, most of which come back to the simple principle of reducing the use of non-renewable fossil fuels:
Reduce your energy consumption: You can lower your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy you consume in your home or workplace. In the United States, a single three-story house on average generates about 16 tons of CO2 emissions. Taking simple steps like turning off lights and electronics when not in use, and investing in energy-efficient appliances can help significantly to offset the amount of energy consumption and lower your carbon footprint.
Choose sustainable transportation: The transportation sector of the U.S. economy creates around 1.7 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. When lowering your own carbon footprint, consider alternatives to driving alone, such as public transportation, biking, or walking. If you need to drive, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle or even an electric car.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions because it lowers total energy consumption. This is because making use of recycled materials means less production of new materials, a process which is generally linked to the release of greenhouse gases. By reducing your consumption and reusing items whenever possible, you can lower your carbon footprint. When you do need to dispose of something, make sure to recycle it properly.
Support renewable energy: One of the largest steps that you can take towards reducing the size of your own carbon footprint is adopting renewable sources of energy in place of a reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable sources of energy like solar power and wind are not reliant on the use of gas, oil, or natural gas and in many cases can actually allow a home to generate its own self-sufficient energy microgrid.
ION Solar Can Help You Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Since 2013, ION Solar has been helping people reduce their carbon footprint by installing efficient, high-quality photovoltaic solar panel systems in homes across America. The team at ION Solar works with customers to create a personalized system for each home while providing the highest-rated customer service in residential solar.
All Installations completed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor - ION DEVELOPER, LLC Arizona ROC 323498 | California #1027027 | Colorado EC#0100960 | Idaho #026803 | Nevada #0083098 Monetary Limit $100,000 | New Mexico #391320 | N. Carolina U.33681 | Ohio #49389 | Oklahoma #00197777 | Oregon C1524 | S. Carolina #M114251 | Texas #30990 | Wyoming C-49686 | Utah #10304593-5501 | Virginia #2705169798
Actual savings will vary depending on system production, geography, weather, shade, electricity usage, utility rates, rate increases, and financing options. Savings estimated here assumes utility rate increases annually and stable customer utility usage rates. Contact us to receive a detailed proposal based on your home and energy usage.