Carbon budget Sept. 08

Wow, we are just not doing that well on this. I never would have guessed that we’d drive an average of 3000 miles every month! And most of that is not stuff we’re willing to give up…too many friends live out-of-state. However, my husband’s taken his last regularly scheduled quarterly trip out of state (or is there one more?), so that will save about 1300 miles every 3 months.

Prius miles this month: 3275 (+1550)
Truck miles: 145 (+5)
Gas this month: 74 gallons (+32)
Air miles this month: 0 (0)
Elec (household): 283kwh (+85)
Elec (hot water):163kwh (+170)
Propane this month: 143 (+143)
Wood this month: 0 (+0)

Total carbon to date: 8336lb

Goal for June ’08-May ’09: 18500lb

So…1/3 of the year is gone, but we’ve used almost 1/2 of our carbon budget…and we haven’t used the heater at all yet.

Note: Wood and propane are listed as quantities bought, not quantities used. I don’t have a good way of knowing how many gallons of propane we’ve used, so I’m just listing it as a lump sum. All I can think of for the electricity spike this month is canning.



  1. Ken said,

    October 3, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    How do you measure the electric for hot water vs. electric for the house? Is there a meter on your water heater? (I’ve been wondering about this for our house: electric for outlets vs. AC, gas for heat vs. hot-water vs. stove/oven — any guess as to how we break this out?)

    Does the big grey bar represent purchasing what’s meant to be enough fuel to get you through the winter? If so, does that mitigate the “used half of your carbon budget” concern?

    The big one for us — or at least the big one that feels most controllable — has always been the car. I’m trying to bring the car in at under 15,000 miles this year, which as never happened since we moved to Ohio — we’ve got a high of around 41K and a low of 18K. (There is, btw, one more jaunt out to Missouri, about a week before Thanksgiving. After that, there’ll just be all the driving we *want* to do to keep seeing all these wonderful people…)

    Thank you, as always, for sharing — you’re inspiring.

  2. October 4, 2008 at 5:32 am

    My understanding is that cooking takes up so little energy (less than 5% of most households) that Energy Star doesn’t even bother rating stoves. However, I have read that gas stoves are more energy efficient than electric, and they are certainly better for canning. So, I think canning is probably something you don’t need to feel guilty about from an environmental standpoint. You can buy your produce locally, and it doesn’t cost anything to ship it from wherever it came from to you. Plus, since you can reuse your canning jars, you aren’t wasting the resources used to produce metal cans.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Jen in MI said,

    October 4, 2008 at 8:57 am

    For these visits to friends can you take the bus or a train? Just a thought…

  4. Emily said,

    October 4, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Ken- Our water heater is on a separate circuit and meter, as it’s technically an “interruptible service” and billed at a lower rate.

    MK- Our electric usage is relatively low, so maybe that’s why something like canning can make such a spike. Your point about lowering my overall impact by canning home-grown stuff is good, though; it shows this method of reckoning isn’t perfect. I take a hit on the electric usage, but I’m not tracking “food miles” closely at all.

    Jen- While technically there are busses and trains leaving from Ann Arbor, travel times and prices are prohibitive: 15 – 36 hours, on average, and often costing the same as a plane ticket. Driving, especially with 2 or 3 people in the car, probably results in less impact, especially when you figure in the driving to/from the station at either end.

  5. shayne said,

    October 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    well if you get to your limit can you buy some carbon credits to meet your goal? there are sites like and others. I thought I would through that out there if you have not thought about it and I just heard Leslie Nagy talk about it on detroit public radio and I thought it was interesting.

  6. Dianabol said,

    December 14, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Your mileage is exceptional, wow, you could say you live in the car.
    Inspirational post.

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