FAQs - Households

What does it cost for a household to be carbon neutral?

A:

It depends on the household's carbon footprint. The average American emits 17 tons of CO2 per year, and that would cost about $21/mo to offset.

Compare this with the social cost of carbon. According to researchers at Stanford University, those 17 tons are causing $3,740 in economic damages elsewhere. For about the price of dining out each month, a household can prevent causing this damage and become carbon neutral.

We buy "green power." Does this make us carbon neutral?

A:

No. Purchasing "green power" does not make your household carbon neutral.

Imagine a two person household in Indianapolis. Without more qualifying information, their total carbon footprint is about 50 mtCO2e annually. Only 5% of that is from electricity (source).

Purchasing the green option from the utility may be a good idea (although the devil is in the details as far as how quality those RECs are). Even if they did, however, their carbon footprint would still be around 47 mtCO2e annually:

We have solar panels. Does that make us carbon neutral?

A:

No. Having solar panels does not make your household carbon neutral.

Imagine a two person household in Indianapolis. Without more qualifying information, their total carbon footprint is about 50 mtCO2e annually. Only 5% of that is from electricity (source).

Getting 100% of electricity from renewable sources (e.g. solar) is important and a great first step. Even if they did, however, their approximate carbon footprint would still be around 47 mtCO2e annually:

How do we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?

A:

Helping people reduce their carbon emissions is one of the major services Carbon Neutral Indiana provides. In fact, it's one of three steps on our yard signs:

Once we measure your carbon footprint we set a time to measure it again six months in the future. In the interim, we'll help you reduce your emissions. One way we do this is by connecting you into a community of others who are doing this as well. This way you can get accountability, share ideas, and grow friendships.

There are many ways you can reduce your emissions. Here are some of the best, in rough order of effectiveness:

  • Fly less or not at all
  • Reduce the amount of air that leaks into / out of your home (see these 19 common areas of leakage)
  • Improve your home's insulation (and use low carbon insulation materials like hemp-based insulation)
  • Switch to more energy efficient home appliances
  • Ask your electric utility for the "green option"
  • Install solar energy at your home
  • Work from home one or two days per week
  • Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle
  • Participate in "meatless Monday"
  • Switch search engines from Google to Ecosia

Of course there are many other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Here are more resources:

Try not to get lost in all of this information. Action is more important. So contact CNI to measure your carbon footprint today.