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Personal Household Carbon Footprint Calculator

Electricity Tips

  • Always match the size of the pan with the size of the stove plate
  • Buy energy efficient equipment usually rated A, A+, A++
  • Change to energy efficient lighting such as CFLs or LEDs which also last longer, and fit lower wattage bulbs wherever possible.
  • Cool down food naturally before placing it in the fridge.
  • Curtains help to retain the heat, so draw them early in the evening.
  • Cut food into smaller sections before cooking to help it cook quicker.
  • Did you know that geysers consume the most electricity in a household - on average more than 25% of the total?
  • Dress up warmly and use blankets and hot water bottles instead of turning on the heater.
  • Dry your clothes outside rather than using a tumble drier and always put a full load of washing in the washing machine.
  • Ensure that fridge door seals are in good condition
  • Fit low-flow shower heads, this will not only save water, but electricity too.
  • Fit pool pump with a timer so that it runs during off peak hours
  • Fix any dripping taps, especially hot water taps.
  • Install a solar geyser.
  • Install micro wind turbines and PV panels if feasible.
  • Keep a thermos (or a hot water bottle) near the kettle to store any leftover hot water.
  • Make your toast in a toaster, not under the grill.
  • Minimise opening the oven door while baking
  • Only turn on the dishwasher when it is full.
  • Place your fridge in a cool place, away from stoves, ovens and tumble driers
  • Renovate your home to be passively energy efficient by orientating the house towards the sun, having large windows with awnings and shade trees around the house.
  • Shower instead of running a bath, as a shower uses much less water and therefore, less hot water and less electricity.
  • Thaw food naturally or using the defrost function of the microwave so that cooking time is minimized.
  • Turn down the geyser thermostat to 50°C in summer and 55°C in winter.
  • Turn of wall switches or power down equipment-don’t leave on standby mode
  • Turn off your electrical stove plates a couple of minutes before your food is cooked, as it will continue to cook on the residual heat
  • Use a geyser blanket and insulate pipes
  • Use a kettle to boil water for cooking as it is quicker and uses less energy than a pot on the hob.
  • Use a solar heater for warming the water
  • Use an energy and water efficient rated dishwasher rather than hand washing, it saves both water and energy.
  • Use an energy efficient electrical wall heater or LPG gas heater if you must
  • Wash clothes in cold water rather and use the low spin cycle on hot or windy days
  • You can clean the pool less often in winter as algae grow slower.

Fire tips

  • Choose a renewable fuel source - best is alien invasive wood like rooikrans or black wattle
  • Or switch to gas braai such as LPG which produces fewer carbon emissions
  • Switch to enviro friendly briquettes do not give off toxic chemicals
  • Use locally produced charcoal
  • Use wood that is sourced from alien vegetation where possible, such as Port Jackson, Rooikrans and Prosopis trees.

Transport tips

  • Air conditioners can use about 10% extra fuel, but at speeds of more than 80 km/h, air-con use is better for fuel economy than an open window.
  • Change gear as soon as practical as the engine runs most efficiently at 1500 to 2500 rpm (lower in diesels).
  • Don’t carry unnecessary weight in your vehicle.
  • Drive at a steady pace, stay within speed limits and accelerate gradually. At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90 km/h.
  • Idling your car for just 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more CO2 emissions than simply turning your engine off and then on again.
  • Keep your vehicle’s tyres correctly inflated to improve your fuel consumption enough to earn you a free tank every year.
  • Minimize drag - roof racks, spoilers and having the window open all increase air resistance and fuel consumption by more than 20%.
  • Purchase a fuel efficient vehicle that drives more than 15km per liter of fuel If possible, live close to where you work.
  • Run a lift club and combine your errands into one trip to reduce driving distances.
  • Servicing your car regularly can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 5%.
  • Use public transport when possible especially trains which are the least carbon intensive
  • Use your handbrake on hills. Never ride the clutch to hold your car on an incline. You'll waste fuel and dramatically reduce the life of your clutch.
  • Walk or ride a bike instead of using a car for short distances

Waste tips

  • Avoid buying products with a lot of packaging: The production of the packaging uses additional energy; and the packaging will be thrown out and will need to be collected from your home by a large waste disposal truck and packaging then takes more space at land fill sites
  • Consider in what vehicle, how often and how far your waste is transported to when recycling to minimise the emissions of recycling the waste.
  • Do not throw away batteries and light bulbs, but rather deposit them in a local retailing superstore which has bins to dispose of these items
  • Recyce your printer cartridges in your office and get refills from companies such as Green Office.
  • When deciding on where to take your recycled waste in order to minimise the emissions of recycling the waste, think about the fuel efficiency of the transporting vehicle, how often you recycle and how far your waste is transported.

Food tips

  • Ask restaurants, stores, and schools where they get their food from. Support those that buy locally.
  • Buy food that is grown locally. It is more nutritious and has a smaller carbon footprint
  • Buy grass-fed, free-range, predator friendly meat and dairy
  • Buy organic products wherever possible. These products were not grown with chemicals such as fertilizers that have a high GHG emissions
  • Buy wine that is Biodiversity and Wine Initiative endorsed. This is a certification for sustainable agricultural practices in the wine industry
  • Cook at home with family and friends, share recipes and your knowledge of sustainability
  • Eat less red meat. Cows produce more carbon emissions and consume more water than other livestock and significantly more than fruit, vegetable, or grain farming
  • Join the Slow Food Movement
  • Only eat fish that is from sustainable stocks and is endorsed by SASSI. Visit
  • Shop at farmer's markets which have organic, natural and local food gown and made with care
  • Start your own home organic garden and include fruit, vegetables and herbs

General Notes

  • Our estimate may differ slightly from other estimates as a result of small differences in assumptions about waste composition and about driving habits or fuel ratings for your vehicle
  • The CAP carbon footprint calculator is intended solely for educational purposes. It is maintained and distributed free of charge by the South African Climate Action Partnership.
  • The calculator was last updated in April 2011
  • For further information, comments or for the most up to date version of this calculator please contact Sarshen Marais at or 021 799 8834.
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