What is your carbon footprint? For UK Households
If you are reading this in the comfort of your own home, this means your household is releasing a certain amount of carbon emissions, possibly without you knowing. An average of 12.6 tonnes tonnes of CO2 are emitted from UK households each year. This means that all the basic amenities in your home such as your heating, oven, or even the internet, is contributing to the carbon emissions. The main contributors to a household carbon footprint are: electricity, food, and transportation
A UK household’s electricity-use creates roughly 1 tonne of CO2e per year. Electricity is the foundation of how our household functions. From heating to cooking, electricity can be one of the cleanest energy sources in comparison to other types of energy. For all sources of electricity, including nuclear or renewables, the average amount of CO2 emitted, amounts to 200 tonnes per GWh of electricity. The country’s households use around £3.4 billion worth of electricity every year, with the national usage being around 3,940kWh per home.
We all know that the UK can get quite chilly so it is no surprise that 95% of UK households use central heating, 85% using gas to power it. Gas-powered central heating contributes 14% to the UK’s 351.5 million tonnes of CO2 released a year or approximately 2.5 tonnes CO2e per household. Central heating per household produces 0.000207 tonnes of CO2 per Kwh (kilowatt hour), with an average of half of each month's energy bills dedicated to central heating. Only 5% of the UK population have electricity-powered heating.
Food accounts for 10-30% of a household's carbon footprint. This is from the emissions created during the production of meat, dairy and vegetables we all love to eat. UK households are continuing to waste 4.5m tonnes of food annually, which is estimated to be worth £14bn, the equivalent to £700 a year for an average family with children.
Cars account for just over 18% of UK emissions with a typical passenger vehicle creating an average of 2 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year based on driving 7,500 miles2. More than 77% of households in the country own a car. Your use of public transport and flying is included here. If you fly a lot though, your household emissions are going to be much higher than the average.
Now, you may be sitting here thinking how in the world the internet can cause so much CO2! Well, on average every google search, causes 10g of CO2, which accounts for Google’s datacentres and running your device. It’s a tiny impact per search and small compared to the impact of subsequently reading the webpage’s content. As our lives become increasingly digitised, web-based emissions are becoming more significant and worthy of our attention.
Sources for reference.
- Central heating boilers 'put climate change goals at risk'
- IZA: Carbon Footprint: A Comparison of theAssociation between Household Characteristics and Emissions from Home Energy, Transport and Other Goods and Services
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation: The Distrubution of Household CO2 Emissions in Great Britain
- Heating Buildings Leaves a Huge Carbon Footprint, But There’s a Fix For It
- Designing Buildings Wiki: Carbon Emissions of Electric Heating vs gas
- Designing Buildings Wiki: Kilowatt Hour
- How much energy do you use to heat your home, and what’s the cost?