Calculating the emissions cost

Calculating the emissions cost

The Editor's green blog

After two weeks it’s time to do the sums and put the stamp of factual authority onto my green project. The CO2 emissions calculator on the government’s Direct Gov website ( tells me that, prior to my eco-conversion, I had been producing approximately 6.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Comparatively, this is a lot better than the 12 UK resident average, a difference accounted for by the fact that I don’t drive. Still, I’m interested to know how much extra saving I’ve achieved for team green.

Some things are easy to calculate. For example, by replacing all my light bulbs with energy efficient types, remembering to turn off my TV, Freeview box and DAB radio at the socket at night, turning my washes down to 40° and kicking out my convection heater (which was costing up to 20kg of carbon emissions per week) I’m cutting down on about 400kg of CO2 a year. A green win! More significantly, as mother nature decided to wreak havoc with the airlines I had a short-haul flight cancelled and avoided around 120kg of emissions over the return trip.

And what about the one lonely courgette plant I’m desperately trying to grow in my back yard? That hardy little photosynthesising powerhouse must be reducing the level of carbon in the atmosphere? A quick Google search reveals that a small tree can take about 15kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year. My chap might manage 5kg at a push, but I’m still proud of him.

In total then, at least 200kg of carbon saved this fortnight, possibly more. And the experience has been relatively painless. A little bit of extra outlay on electric light bulbs will be recouped through cheaper energy bills soon enough, plus it’s hard to put a price on a warm sense of smugness. I have no regrets and, for my pains, a few more proud convictions.

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