Carbon Footprint Calculator — How Do You Measure Up?

Every household has a unique carbon footprint based on the amount and types of energy consumed. Below is one example of a two-person North Dakota household.

Calculate your own footprint to compare with the example or learn what you can do and what society can do to reduce your carbon footprint.


Figure your footprint. Use the links to the calculators below to estimate your household carbon footprint from energy and more.

You will need your energy bills and other information to calculate average monthly energy consumption.

Household Carbon Footprint Calculator by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates your household carbon footprint from your energy bill, your driving habits, and how you handle your household waste.

Home Energy Saver Calculator by the U.S. Department of Energy focuses on your in-home carbon footprint (no transportation). Inputs like insulation r-values and square footage of window surfaces yield a more detailed estimate of energy needs and carbon footprint based on the character of the home you own or might build. The Carbon Footprint Map feature lets you compare results locally or across the country.

CoolClimate Calculator by the University of California at Berkeley looks at energy and carbon footprint for a California household. The calculator provides an estimate of the footprint that incorporates lifestyle choices.

In this example, a Grand Forks, North Dakota, couple lives in a 2-story, 1600-square-foot home with an 800-square-foot basement. Their home is heated with a natural gas furnace. Electricity powers all major and minor appliances—including the water heater and clothes dryer— central air conditioning, electronics, and lighting. Two light-duty vehicles are driven about 18,000 and 10,000 miles a year. Their fuel economies are 25.5 and 22 miles per gallon, respectively.

In the energy consumption graph, transportation makes up the largest share—50% of this household’s energy consumption—and electricity is the smallest at 18%. Natural gas for home heating accounts for 32%. In contrast, the carbon footprint graph1 shows this same family’s electricity use produces a much larger share of its household carbon footprint than its natural gas consumption—the proportion equal to the share from gasoline.

By comparing the two charts, you can see that energy consumption does not directly correspond to carbon footprint. For this household, using less electricity would have a greater effect on carbon footprint than reducing the use of home fuels like natural gas or propane. Decreasing gasoline consumption would have a significant effect on both overall energy use and carbon footprint.

Click on the energy icons above to learn more about the relationship between energy and carbon footprint.

1The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Household Carbon Footprint Calculator was used to determine the carbon footprint for this family.

Reducing your energy consumption reduces energy costs and emissions of CO2 because most of our energy comes from fossil fuels. And, with 350,000 housing units in North Dakota, actions can add up. Reducing energy use by 10% is doable, is affordable, and will reduce carbon emissions.

Start with small actions, see what happens, and decide about next steps.

  • Lower the thermostat to 65°–68°F in the winter and raise it to 75°F in the summer.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to minimize heating and cooling at night and when you are away from home. Try 5° cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.
  • Caulk the windows to stop the drafts.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Replace your light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs—one room at a time.
  • Adjust the temperature settings in appliances to optimize efficiency: 20°F for the freezer, 35°F for the fridge, and 120°F for the water heater.
  • Wash full loads in cold water, dry full loads, and cut your shower time.
  • Use a power strip with TVs, computers, and battery chargers, and click the strip off to cut the power when the electronics are not in use.
  • Unplug the adapters, chargers, and consoles when not in use.
  • Car pool or share a ride.
  • Use public transit for some of those errands.

Clip Title: Cutting Carbon: What Can I Do?

Description: Practical tips to cut energy use, reduce your household carbon footprint, and save money, too!

Length: 02:34

Electricity provider links to help customize your household energy efficiency and conservation plan:

Learn about more actions you can take.

Wise use of energy in the household can reduce part of your carbon footprint, but there’s only so much households can do. As a society, we need to make changes to existing infrastructure, residential and commercial building practices, how consumer products are made, and how we produce and use energy in order to decrease our carbon footprint.

Many actions focused on every sort of energy use will be needed. Learn about the global greenhouse gas situation and options to reduce our carbon footprint.

Clip Title: Cutting Carbon: Society’s Options

Description: Societies make decisions that can reduce carbon output. Energy efficiency and conservation, alternative energy, and carbon capture and storage can make a difference.

Length: 02:50

Decrease CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels at Large Facilities (experts say they aren’t going away anytime soon!)

Electricity generation will continue to be a very important part of energy use around the world. Our region is active in looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity generation.

Capture the CO2. Install CO2 capture technology at energy facilities (such as power plants and refineries) and use geologic CO2 storage. The northern Great Plains region has great CO2 storage potential —and several projects are already happening right here.

Clip Title: Carbon Capture and Storage

Description: A means of managing industrial CO2 that builds on 40 years of experience is described.

Length: 06:13

Increase efficiency at coal-fired power plants. The northern Great Plains region is a leader in fuel efficiency. Learn more.

  • Learn about the Spiritwood plant, which will improve the efficiency of a typical power plant to using the steam heat that is usually wasted.
  • Learn how drying lignite increases efficiency, which decreases CO2 emissions.

Clip Title: Improving Energy Efficiency – Drying Coal

Description: Coal Creek Station uses waste heat to dry coal, which improves the energy efficiency of its electricity generation.

Length: 02:50

Focus on Alternatives

Increase the availability of renewable energy for electricity generation and transportation.

Learn more at these Web sites:

Focus on Land Management Practices

Plants can remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere in a practice called terrestrial CO2 sequestration.

Learn about terrestrial sequestration.

Clip Title: What Is Terrestrial CO2 Sequestration?

Description: Terrestrial sequestration is explained.

Length: 01:07

Clip Title: Sequestration Potential in the Prairies

Description: Soil has great potential for trapping carbon dioxide. Details of capture and release into the atmosphere are presented.

Length: 01:45

Watch the documentary Out of the Air – Into the Soil

Learn about CO2 Emission Offsets

Clip Title: Sequestering Carbon in the Prairie

Description: The role of prairies sequestering carbon dioxide.

Length: 02:05

Clip Title: CO2 Offsets Through Reforestation in Mississippi

Description: Forest management in Mississippi is helping to manage carbon emissions.

Length: 04:11

Clip Title: Emission Trading

Description: The process of emission trading and its usefulness to the global economy are described.

Length: 01:58

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Developed for the North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy