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The Truth about the Carbon Footprint of your Appliances

The Truth about the Carbon Footprint of your Appliances

Image by StockMonkeys

We all have a carbon footprint – as individuals, families and nations. For some, it's a light imprint in the sand. For others, it’s a large crater.

While air travel, power stations and gas-guzzling cars are obvious culprits, the ordinary home has a huge part to play in your carbon footprint and your household appliances are some of the main offenders.

What does 'Carbon Footprint' really mean?

The phrase 'carbon footprint' has become such a common part of the environmental language, that it's easy to overlook its real meaning. Your footprint is a metaphor for the impact you are having on the environment because of the energy and electricity you use – both directly and indirectly.

It’s the mark every person leaves on the world, and while it may not actually look like a footprint, it relates to the impact of an individual. Imagine taking the first step in pristine sand then imagine billions of people trampling over the same stretch of sand and you'll get an idea of how the accumulative effect of each individual really matters.

Your footprint is your contribution to the greenhouse effect. It's measured by looking at the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of your lifestyle. A study by the Carbon Trust estimates the annual footprint of the average Briton at 10.92 tonnes of CO2 per year. And while this figure is very high, it's roughly half the amount produced by the average American.

This figure takes into account all aspects of our lives but your home plays an important part in this – around 30% of C02 comes from household use.

The truth about your household appliances

When it comes to C02 emissions, your kitchen is the main culprit – from boiling the kettle for the first tea of the day, to preparing your evening meal, it all adds up. And while you may use gas or electricity to warm your oven, you're also indirectly warming the planet.

Here's a breakdown of the C02 emissions for some of our everyday appliances per year, with data from Carbonfootprint.com:

Appliance Type

Usage Cost Co2 Produced/Yr
Microwave Oven 96 times per year at 0.945 kWh per use (based on 1.39 kWh for full power and 0.5 kWh for defrosting) £9.07 39kg
Electric Tumble Dryer 148 times per year at 2.50 kWh per cycle (based on an average load capacity of 4.76 kg of dry laundry) £37.00 159kg
Gas Hob 424 times per year at 0.9 kWh per use £14.12 71kg
Electric Hob  424 uses per year at 0.71 kWh per use £30.10  129kg
Gas Oven  135.1 times per year, at 1.52 kWh per use  £7.60  38kg
Electric Oven 135.1 times per year at 1.56 kWh per use  £21.08  91kg 
Dishwasher  used at 55°C, 110 times per year at 1.07 kWh per use £11.77  51kg 
Fridge - Freezer A+ Spec used for 24 hours a day, at 270 kWh per year £27.00  116kg 
Primary TV 34-37 inches If switched on for 6.5 hours a day, at 263.9 W £62.61  269kg 

Obviously, these are estimates but it can give you a good idea of how everything adds to up to produce your carbon footprint.

The complete footprint

While the figures above can give you a good indication of the carbon footprint of your home, they don't tell the full story. The Guardian suggested that you are only considering a 'carbon toe print' unless you incorporate the product footprint in your figures.

The product footprint takes into account everything that has happened before that product got to your home. Way before the time when you're using energy to fry an egg for breakfast, C02 is produced through manufacturing and transporting the cooker from the factory to your door.

The product footprint is a harder figure to pin down. It incorporates a long supply chain which is beyond your control. The only thing that is in your control is what you choose to buy. Your total product footprint is the sum of all the different product footprints of things you own. Basically, the more stuff you have filling your home, the bigger your footprint.

Research on Shrinkthatfootprint looks at the Input Output Life Cycle to see the spending in different areas of the economy to estimate the number of tonnes of C02 per person (in 2005) each sector contributes. In the US, the electrical sector is estimated to produce 0.41 tonnes per person.

Extend the lifespan of your products

You can reduce your carbon footprint in two ways.

(1) Cutting down on energy usage is a good start but (2) cutting back on the number of new products you buy is another important thing to consider. In an increasingly throw-away culture, many of us would rather take something to the dump, than repair it. But expanding the life span of your products is a great way to reduce your footprint.

At Ransom Spares, we offer a wide selection of spares parts so that you can repair rather than replace. A change in attitude to the products you buy will not only save you money but reduce your carbon footprint.

By Lee Gilbert

Category: Articles, News & Tips

Lee Gilbert
Author By Lee Gilbert
Date On 14th Mar 2014 at 12:43

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