Carbon budget

Ok, I’m going public with my 2008-09 carbon budget. I’ll check in periodically to keep me honest. 🙂 i apologize for lack of sources for my numbers; I forgot to write them down as I was calculating. If you’d like to suggest better numbers or correct my math, please do. 🙂 I realize these numbers aren’t down to 90% of the American average (i.e., Riot4Austerity levels) but they are a reduction of our already below-average usage by an additional 30%. And it’s a 30% we should be able to keep that low, and it doesn’t require moving or giving up seeing distant friends and family again.

Item US Ave Carbon 2007-08
use (hshld of 2)
Goal carbon
Gasoline 500 gal pp/yr 19.36lb CO2/gal (How’s this possible?)
444 gal 8,596 300 gal 5,808 13,500 Prius miles
@45mpg. Goal = one trip to town daily + 4000 miles for road trips
Air travel 1200 mi/pp/yr .55 lb /passenger
10080 miles 5,544 9500 miles 5,225 Goal = 2 trips to
see friends and 2 trips to see family
Electricity 11,000 kwh/house/yr .5/kwh (1.4 lb/kwh
w/o wind offsets)
6000 kwh 3,000 4500 kwh 2,250 Shorter showers
.2 kwh/gal to heat water. 15 min shower = 7.5 kwh; 5 min=2.5 kwh; save
5kwh/day*6*52=1560 kwh saved
Propane 1100 gal/house/yr 12.7 lb/gal 850 gal 10,795 400 gal 5,080
Wood ? 0-280 lb/cord (use
0 cord 0 1 cord 150 Much debate on carbon
output of wood. Ours is “waste” wood from dead ash trees
27,935 18,513 pounds per hshld
per yr
12.67 8.40 tonnes per hshld
per yr


  1. Ken said,

    June 5, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. How’d you figure the gas? Do actually record that, or are you estimating based on mileage, or some other approach?

  2. Emily said,

    June 7, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Ken- the figures I’ve found are carbon per gallon of gas, so I take our mileage and divide by 45 (the car calculates mpg automatically, and this is our yearly average).

  3. Jeremy Dore said,

    June 12, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Just a thought – how about you offset some of these figures with the positive carbon savings you make compared to the average household. For example, sourcing things locally or growing your own food both reduce the carbon other people usually use in supplying you.
    Good idea to budget it though – quite like those ideas that economies should be moved to charge for carbon consumption – but applied to a personal level

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