In 2006 the ‘Counting Consumption’ report produced by the Stockholm Environmental Institute at the University of York suggested the carbon footprint of the average UK household in 2001 was 20.7 tonnes. This looked at everything in a household from the point of view of what was consumed in a year, and the figure included indirect emissions from the generation of electricity and production of goods and services, in particular taking into account whether they were produced in the UK or other countries. This was how they broke it down into different areas of consumption:
In the UK about 30% of our CO2 emissions come from energy used at home. A typical western home with a power output of 20,000 kWh per year might weigh in at about 5 tonnes of CO2 from energy use within the home. This then breaks down into heating space, heating water, lighting and appliances and cooking. As can be seen from the pie chart below it is the heating of the house that uses by far the most energy, followed by heating water. Not surprisingly this is also the area where the most energy can be saved and where your house’s load on the environment can be lightened.
And if we haven’t got specific enough already we can also look at energy use in terms of different appliances in the house (see table below). In total, consumer electronics use the same amount of energy as lighting. The electronic jungle of wide-screen TVs, digiboxes and DVDS found in many households is also taking its toll on the environment, even when these appliances are seemingly switched off. A digital TV set-top box on standby uses enough energy to emit 0.06 tonnes of CO2 in a year (roughly the total emissions of an average citizen in Burundi).
(excluding electric heating)
|ICT (computers etc)||9%|
|Source: Centre for Alternative Technology
Data: Energy Saving Trust
Not surprisingly fridges and freezers use a lot of electricity, the main problem being you can’t just switch them off when they’re not needed. The washing machines and tumble dryers of this world don’t fare much better, especially the tumble dryer which emits 1.84 kg CO2 per cycle. If you use it four times a week that will produce 0.39 tonnes of CO2 in one year which is the same as a Nissan 4×4 doing a round trip from London to Aberdeen.