Carbon footprint definition

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide (CO), you produce as a result of going about your normal life.

Things like commuting to work, dropping the kids off a school, cooking, the products you buy all produce differing amounts of greenhouse gases that get released into the atmosphere.

Carbon footprint calculation

Your carbon footprint is usually measured as tons of CO2 emitted per year, however, it can also be measured as tons of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) gases.

Aside from carbon dioxide, we also produce other harmful greenhouse gases as well.

6 greenhouse gases

      • Methane
      • Nitrous oxide
      • Hydrofluorocarbons
      • Perfluorocarbons
      • Sulphur hexafluoride

All greenhouse gases are harmful to the atmosphere but some are worst than others.

Methane, for example, has a greenhouse effect 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.

CO2e takes into account all types of harmful greenhouses gases and makes it a bit easier to understand your total impact on the environment.

When calculating a carbon footprint, a lot of factors are taken into consideration. For example, driving to the supermarket burns a certain amount of fuel, and fossil fuels are the primary sources of greenhouses gases.

Energy Myths Facts- cost to charge an electric car

When you get to the supermarket, the products that the store sells were all shipped there, so that must also be factored into the total carbon footprint. How the food is packaged also comes into play too since wrappers have to be manufactured.

The best way to calculate your carbon footprint is to use WWF’s carbon footprint calculator, answer a few questions about your lifestyle and let it calculate your total amount of CO emissions for you.

Calculating your carbon footprint is a useful starting point to reduce your yearly carbon footprint, and will give you an idea of how you’re doing each year.

What is ‘Carbon offsetting’?

Carbon offsetting is where your carbon output is effectively reduced to zero.

Being ‘carbon neutral’ is the ultimate goal towards preventing climate change.

There are many carbon offsetting schemes but one way we’re doing this at npower is by planting huge numbers of trees around the UK.

Did you know?

The average household in the UK produces around 20 tons of CO2e a year.

In order to offset this, we would need to plant around 54 trees.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

Everything you do releases some amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some more than others so it’s possible to increase or decrease your yearly carbon footprint with your everyday choices.

There are a lot of things that make up your personal carbon footprint, but the main things that you have control of include:

  • Your home and energy – where does your energy come from?
  • Transport and travel – going on holiday, driving to work
  • Things you own – furniture in your home, clothes, electronics, appliances
  • Food and drink – the produce you eat, the packaging it comes in, the shop you buy from

Reducing carbon footprint - grow your own

9 ways to reduce your carbon footprint:

      1. Choose our Go Green Electricity and Gas Tariff to help us plant more trees
      2. Use energy-efficient appliances
      3. Insulate your home to reduce heating and air conditioning costs
      4. Use public transport to commute to work
      5. Drive an electric vehicle instead of a diesel car
      6. Eat less meat, raising livestock requires tons of feed to be grown and processed which contributes
      7. Grow your own – get vegetable grow bags and create a home allotment on your patio
      8. Choose food that doesn’t require as much transportation
      9. Watch out for paper usage – especially during Christmas when you have a mountain of presents to wrap

Want to help?

As trees absorb CO and produce oxygen, they are one of our most vital natural assets. Through our partnership with environmental charity Trees for Cities, we will plant a tree* for switching your energy to our Go Green Energy Fix September 2020 tariff.

Read more about our partnership and how we’re celebrating National tree week.

*After 90 days.