Empowered: How Calculating your Carbon Footprint Can Empower You to Make a Difference

When Ellie Bolton sat down to calculate her carbon footprint it was with a certain measure of apprehension.  “I had no idea how many tonnes of CO2 emissions my household fuel bills, car mileage and daily habits would equate to,” She said. Curiosity drove her on with a wary eye on the clock – how much time would this take? It sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Well 45 minutes later, Ellie emerged from her study clutching a printed report on her carbon footprint, including details of how much CO2 she had already saved with the measures she had taken in the last 12 months, and a great long list of the easy to do things that could still be done in the next 12 months.

“I was delighted.  Here at last was some clear unequivocal advice that I could follow that told me how much CO2 and money I would save with each simple action.  The website was easy to follow and I could save the data I entered, so that I can go back time again and revise the details to see how my footprint has reduced.  There are also loads of really useful links for more detailed information to help with each particular aspect of carbon saving, e.g. grants, insulation, transport, technologies and renewable energy.”

Climate change is everyone’s issue, and the key facts about climate change point to the need to take action now.   Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) is the coalition of organisations and citizens, registered as a charity, which encourages and promotes the move to a low carbon society.   You can join WinACC by visiting their website www.winacc.org.uk and following the easy steps to measure, reduce and report on your carbon footprint.   Your personal action plan will include advice about how to save money and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.   You don’t have to make your footprint public, but if you do then you will be sharing your energy saving ideas with like minded people and offering inspiration to others.  “Being able to compare my footprint with other households of a similar size really brought it home to me that there is so much more I could do and it was a useful benchmarking exercise.” Ellie said.

“For me, this is not just about saving money, although every little helps.  I know I can’t make my childrens’ future more secure all by myself, but I realise that there is a lot I can do and I want not only to reduce my household’s carbon footprint but encourage and influence others to do the same.   We all know that actions speak louder than words; and, if we are to take serious action on climate change we need to do so now.”

Ellie has for the last 20 years worked in horticulture and has therefore kept a keen eye on environmental issues.  She has an allotment and helps to teach children to grow vegetables at Swanmore Primary School.  She cycles or takes the bus to reduce car usage, and over the years she has insulated her house as much as she can and is positively stingy with the heating!  Even so, she is not complacent about her carbon footprint.

“Let’s face it, most of our carbon footprints are still steadily growing not shrinking. How many people do you know that either gave or received something electrical this Christmas?  It is not until we start thinking about energy consumption when we are buying electrical items, that we can really turn the corner and get this under control.”

One electrical item that will make a difference is a wireless energy monitor, available online from www.electricity-monitor.com  It instantly tells you how much electricity an appliance is using even when on standby and that someone has left a light on!  Priced at around £30 there’s an investment worth making.