4
 min read

Understand your footprint: Housing

Introduction
Electricity is a big part of many people's everyday lives, even though around 790 million people in the world do not have access to it. In well-developed countries, electricity is everywhere, from the alarm ringing from the charged phone in the morning to keeping your leftovers cooled overnight. Thus, without it being something we think about a lot in our everyday lives, the energy consumption of our homes fill a significant part of our total carbon footprint, which of course has major consequences for the climate. However, to mitigate these consequences, we do not deem it a necessity to compromise and give up on all electronics, but instead, use them more sparsely.

Why does electricity emit CO2?
The primary emissions from your home come from electricity and heat, as well as building materials. Electricity is produced in power plants that run on coal and which emit carbon dioxide when it is burned. Even wind turbines and solar cells cost significant amounts of CO2 in raw materials to produce. As long as a country does not run on 100% renewable energy, some of the power you will get out of your socket will still be based on fossil fuels, even if you buy electricity exclusively from renewable sources. If, on the other hand, you take our challenge “God Energi” in the Climaider app, you can be helped to emit less CO2 through your electricity consumption.

Why does heating emit CO2?
Heat is energy. To generate energy, you will inevitably emit CO2. With an old oil-fired boiler, this is especially evident when you literally pour liters of fossil fuel into the system. However, even heat pumps and similar systems emit CO2 emissions, even though it is significantly less. This is a result of the systems using power to move the heat around. Therefore, it always pays off to think about how much heat you use, both for the climate and your own economy, as discussed in this article. However, if you have one of the latter forms of heating, you have already come far.

What about insulation and energy efficiency?
Your house will retain more heat, if you insulate it, meaning that you can spend less heat, thus reducing your carbon footprint. The same goes for energy efficiency. If you have an A+++ refrigerator, LED bulbs etc., you will use less power and thereby avoid greenhouse gasses from being emitted. The upside of both things is that you also save a lot of money when doing it. Therefore, it often pays off to invest in optimizing your home - both financially and for the climate.

Does streaming mean a lot to your CO2 emissions?
The short answer is: No.

Streaming is a well discussed topic and many media outlets stir it up to be a big climate sinner. Of course, it emits CO2 to use power for streaming and to power the data centers you stream from. But according to our calculator, streaming accounts for a very small part of your CO2 emissions, and you will have a much more climate effect if your efforts are put somewhere else.

Why does it save CO2 to sort your waste?
By recycling materials, you can save the CO2 that is otherwise used to extract and process it. We can take a beer bottle as an example:

Usually, you need sand, sodium carbonate, and calcium carbonate, which must be cleaned and melted into glass at extremely high temperatures and shaped into the bottle, after which it is cleaned again, to be ready for use. By comparison, a recycled bottle just needs to be washed, and then it is ready for use.

Why do building materials emit so much CO2?
A house consists of many materials that must be extracted, processed, and transported. In each step, a relatively large amount of CO2 is emitted, e.g. by burning bricks, forming pipes, etc. Denmark's Green think tank, CONCITO, estimates that building materials emit 25 kg. CO2 pr. M2 housing each year. This is also the number we use in our calculator.

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