Calculating a greener world


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How often do you turn the lights on, plug in your cell phone, switch on the TV, run the faucets, take a shower, drive your car, run you air conditioner? Did we miss anything? Of course we did. Because we’re constantly running electricity and water from a number of different sources, including some not-so-obvious ones.

So now let us turn our collective attention to the Internet; not just a place for YouTube videos, Facebook and HellaWella advice. Thanks to sites like Energy Star and the Environmental Protection Agency, there’s no need to wrack your brain to figure out how much energy and water you’re using. Just type a few numbers into these online calculators and let the Internet crunch the numbers for you.

Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick

Energy Star, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to provide energy-efficient products and practices, offers this calculator to assess your home’s energy usage. According to the site, you’ll need your last 12 months of utility bills or a 12-month summary statement from your utility company, a list of energy sources for your home and the square footage of your home.

The Home Energy Yardstick will then compare your home’s energy use with similar homes across the country. Once your results are calculated, the site offers its Home Energy Advisor for customized energy-saving recommendations.

H2O Conserve Water Footprint Calculator

Your water footprint is the amount of water you use throughout your day. This includes obvious usage, including running faucets and showers in your home, and the water you don’t even think about, including water used to produce the food you consume, the products you buy and the water saved when you recycle. According to H2O Conserve, this “virtual water” makes up most of your water footprint.

The Water Footprint Calculator asks such questions as how many minutes you shower, do you turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth and have you installed water-saving fixtures in your home. (Fun bonus: The illustrations below the questions change depending on how you answer.) Once the questionnaire is complete, your total household water use and individual water use are calculated, along with water-saving tips based on your answers.

The Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator

If you want to know how much you and your household are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, check out this Carbon Footprint Calculator. According to The Nature Conservancy’s website, “The choices we make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we buy and throw away all influence our carbon footprint and can help ensure a stable climate for future generations.”

The calculator estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases you create each year through four categories: Home Energy, Driving & Flying, Food & Diet, and Recycling & Waste.