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EPA Calculator Puts Greenhouse Gas Savings in Everyday Terms

Release Date: 02/07/2008
Contact Information: Roxanne Smith, (202) 564-4355 /; En español: Lina Younes, (202) 564-4355 /

(2/7/08) Can you picture what it means to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1 million metric tons? News stories are packed with measurements of greenhouse gas reductions, but it can be difficult to understand them until now. EPA's new Greenhouse Gas Calculator helps you turn greenhouse gas savings into more easily understood everyday terms.

The calculator converts greenhouse gas-related savings estimates, typically presented in "million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents," into familiar terms such as the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from:

  • Driving a particular number of cars for a year,
  • Using a particular amount of gasoline or barrels of oil,
  • Using a particular number of tanker trucks' worth of gasoline,
  • Providing energy to a particular number of homes for a year,
  • Growing trees across a particular number of acres for a year,
  • Recycling a particular quantity of waste instead of sending it to the landfill, or
  • Generating electricity from a particular number of coal fired power plants for a year.

Users can enter savings in emissions, electricity consumption, gallons of gasoline, or number of vehicles into the calculator and determine up to 13 different ways to express the magnitude of the savings. The calculator uses the latest emission factors, approaches and statistics available through 2007.

As an example, if a typical household switched all its incandescent light bulbs to Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs, it would save about 75 percent of the lighting electricity use, or about 1,463 kWh a year. After five years, these energy savings are equivalent to:
  • Saving about 10,289 pounds of CO2 emissions,
  • Conserving 530 gallons of gasoline,
  • Saving 11 barrels of oil,
  • Planting 120 tree seedlings, or
  • Recycling 1.6 tons of waste.

Information on the calculator: