Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Household Emissions Calculator Assumptions and References

Your Current Household Emissions Sources

Household Vehicles

Pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent are calculated based on EPA's estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions from a typical passenger vehicle in the United States. Estimates of the typical values for fuel economy and miles driven per week are from the Federal Highway Administration's Highway Statistics 2007 Table VM-1 (PDF) (1 p, 11K). Note that EPA's emissions estimates are lower than estimates obtained through fueleconomy.gov, because EPA's estimates are for tailpipe emissions only. The fueleconomy.gov site estimates emissions over the full fuel lifecycle (including extraction, processing, and transportation of fuel).

Electricity

Electricity emissions factors are categorized by geographic subregion. Source: EPA. eGRID Version 1.1 Aggregation File, eGRID2010.

"Typical" annual CO2 emissions are 14,920 pounds per household, assuming approximately 957 kWh per month. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 2009. A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005.(4 pp, 65K, About PDF)

Natural Gas

Carbon coefficient for natural gas: 117 pounds of CO2 per million BTU, or 0.12 pounds per cubic foot of gas. Source: U.S. EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 (EPA 2011).

"Typical" annual CO2 emissions of 8,049 pounds per household based on national average monthly consumption of 5,583 cubic feet of gas. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 2009. A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005.(4 pp, 65K, About PDF)

Fuel Oil

Carbon coefficient for distillate fuel (fuel oil): 163 pounds of CO2 per million BTU, or 22.61 pounds per gallon. Source: U.S. EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 (EPA 2011).

"Typical" annual CO2 emissions of 16,779 pounds per household based on national average monthly consumption of 62 gallons of oil. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 2009. A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005.(4 pp, 65 K, About PDF)

Propane

Carbon coefficient for LPG (propane): 136pounds of CO2 per million BTU, or 12.43 pounds per gallon. Source: U.S. EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 (EPA 2011).

"Typical" annual CO2 emissions of 5,679 pounds per household based on national average monthly consumption of 38 gallons of propane. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 2009. A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005.(4 pp, 65K, About PDF)

Waste Disposal

Estimates of greenhouse gas emission benefits from recycling newspaper, glass, plastic, metal, and magazines were developed using national waste data and life-cycle greenhouse gas emission factors for waste management. Calculations assume that it would be possible for households to recycle 100 percent of all recyclable materials generated as waste. For example, if you indicate that you recycle newspapers, this calculator assumes that you recycle 100 percent of the newspapers you receive. It is estimated that on average, each person generates 0.025 tons of newspaper, 0.038 tons of glass, 0.015 tons of plastic, 0.011 tons of metal, and 0.005 tons of magazines per year.

EPA's annual Characterization Report was the source of per capita waste generation by material type (e.g., newspaper waste generated per person). Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2010. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2009 (PDF) (198 pp, 2.4MB, About PDF).

Carbon dioxide equivalent emissions associated with household waste management were calculated using the total emissions for landfills (including incineration, landfill gas-to-energy projects, oxidation, and flaring) from EPA's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2009 and the United States population estimates from EPA's annual Characterization Report mentioned above. The emission factors for each material type were developed by EPA and presented in the Agency's report on greenhouse gas emissions from waste management and in the online WAste Reduction Model (WARM). These emission factors take into account the full material life cycle; i.e., not only emissions at the landfill, but also emissions and sequestration associated with production, manufacturing, remanufacturing, forest carbon storage due to reduced harvests, etc. The emission factor used for recycling materials in this calculator compares greenhouse gas emissions from recycling with those attributable to landfilling. This approach enables policy makers to evaluate, on a per-ton basis, the overall difference in greenhouse gas emissions between (1) recycling 1 ton of material and (2) manufacturing and then managing (post-consumer) 1 ton of the same material. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009. 

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What You Can Do to Reduce Your Emissions

On the Road

Emission factors based on EPA's estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions from a typical passenger vehicle in the United States.

Cost savings for reducing the number of miles driven are calculated using $0.16 cents per mile (includes gas, oil and maintenance). Source: Transportation Energy Data Book. Table 10.13. Average variable cost per mile, 2011.

Properly inflating tires: Assumes an increase in fuel efficiency of 3 percent. Keeping your engine properly tuned: Assumes an increase in fuel efficiency of 4 percent. Source: Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, Fuel Economy Website, 2011.

Perform regular maintenance on your vehicles: Assumes an increase in fuel efficiency of 7 percent. Source: Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, Fuel Economy Website, 2011.

Cost savings for purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle are calculated using $2.84 per gallon. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Navigator, 2007U.S. Energy Information Administration, US Retail Gas Prices, 2011.

At Home

Cost savings for natural gas consuming devices assume an average cost of $11.21 per thousand cubic feet. Source: Energy Information Administration: US Residential Natural Gas Prices, 2011.

Cost savings for electricity consuming devices assume average cost per kWh of $0.1150. Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook Table A8, 2011.(2 pp, 46K, About PDF)

Cost savings for fuel oil consuming devices assume an average cost of $2.80 per gallon. Source: Energy Information Administration: US Residential Fuel Oil Prices, 2011.

Cost savings for propane consuming devices assume an average cost of $2.59 per gallon. Source: Energy Information Administration: Residential Propane Prices, 2011.

Turning down your heating thermostat: Assumes 3 percent savings in heating energy use for a 1 degree decrease. Source: ENERGY STAR. Life Cycle Cost Estimating Tool for ENERGY STAR Programmable Thermostats, 2008. Assumes that, nationally, 7% of annual residential electricity consumption, 62% of annual natural gas consumption, 61% of annual propane consumption, and 84% of annual fuel oil consumption are used for space heating. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. End-use Consumption of Electricity. US Energy Information Administration: A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005. Total Energy Consumption in U.S. Households by Type of Housing Unit (Table US3), 2009 (4 pp, 51K, About PDF) and US Energy Information Administration: A Look at Residential Energy Consumption in 2005. Space-Heating Energy Consumption in U.S. Households by Type of Housing Unit (Table SH3), 2009 (PDF) (7 pp, 58K, About PDF)

Turning up thermostat for central air conditioner: Assumes 6 percent savings in cooling energy use for a 1 degree increase. Source: ENERGY STAR. Life Cycle Cost Estimating Tool for ENERGY STAR Programmable Thermostats, 2008. Assumes that nationally, 20% of annual electricity consumption is used for space cooling. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. End-use Consumption of Electricity. Total Energy Consumption in U.S. Households by Fuels Used, 2005 (PDF) Total Energy Consumption in U.S. Households by Type of Housing Unit, 2005 (Table US4) (PDF) (4 pp, 51K, About PDF) and Total Consumption by Energy End Uses, 2005 (Table US12) (PDF) (4 pp, 50K, About PDF)

Enable sleep feature on your computer and monitor. Assumes ENERGY STAR desktop computer and monitor. Average annual unit computer energy (sleep feature enabled, computer turned off at night): 80 kWh; average annual unit computer energy (sleep feature not enabled, computer turned off at night): 152 kWh. Average annual unit monitor energy (sleep feature enabled, monitor turned off at night): 44 kWh; average annual unit monitor energy (sleep feature not enabled, monitor turned off at night): 76 kWh. Source: ENERGY STAR. LBNL Home Office Spreadsheet, 2009.

Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot: Assumes average use of 485 kWh per year or 1.07 kWh per load. Source: D&R International product database, 2011. Use a clothes line or drying rack for 50% of your laundry, instead of your dryer: Assumes 1,079 kWh of electricity used per year. Source: U.S. Department of Energy. A Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2007.

Replacing 60 watt incandescent light bulbs with 13 watt compact fluorescents: Assumes that lights are on for 3 hours per day. Source: ENERGY STAR. Cost Estimate for Energy Star Qualified Light Bulbs, 2011.

Replacing old refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR model: Assumes old model uses 794 kWh per year; ENERGY STAR model uses 424 kWh per year. Source: Source: D&R International -Historical Data Tables Factbook Appendix from D&R_2-8-11.xlsx.

Replacing an old boiler or furnace with an ENERGY STAR model: Assumes 2000 sq ft house; 300 square feet of glass. Source: EPA's Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), 2010.

Replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR windows: Assumes 2000 square-foot house, 300 square feet of glass. Source: ENERGY STAR. Methodology based on RESFEN 3.1 calculations performed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), 2005.

Recycling

Calculations assume that it would be possible for households to recycle 100 percent of all recyclable materials generated as waste. The plastic material type used in the calculator includes PET and HDPE, and the metal material type includes aluminum and steel cans.

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