My Personal Carbon Footprint

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For three full days, record all your activities that use up fossil fuels, such as:

  • Driving your car ( 45 miles a day )
  • Heating your house ( 4 hours a day )
  • Doing laundry ( once in those 3 days for 2 hours )
  • Doing dishes ( does’s use the dish washer at all )
  • Taking a shower with hot water ( 20 minutes each day )
  • Etc, etc.Describe these activities in one paragraph for each day. Note: Your grade will NOT depend on how much or how little fossil fuels you consume, only on your honest and careful analysis!

    Use your monthly electricity bill, natural gas bill, and gasoline bill, to calculate your personal consumption of the different types of fossil fuels per month. Make a table with your monthly consumptions of the different fossil fuels. Then calculate the corresponding release of CO2, and put it into the same table.

    Describe how you determined the CO2 emissions. Show your calculations! Please use Microsoft equation editor (under “insert -> object”). Do NOT try to write equations with the regular text editor.

    In the conclusion, assess the amount of your CO2 emissions. Explain if and how you might be able to reduce your carbon footprint.

    The report should be about 2-5 pages long, double-sided.

Fossil Fuel

Monthly consumption

CO2 emission


Natural gas




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Hints for your Carbon Footprint Report

Gasoline Consumption:

  • Determine how many miles you drive per day (distance D).
  • How much gasoline do you use for your daily drive?Calculate it by knowing how many miles per gallon (mpg) your car gets: gals of gasoline used = D


    If you don’t know the mpg for your car, start with a full tank, set you odometer to zero, and record the distance you drove, and the gallons of gasoline you need to refill, the next time you get gas.

  • To calculate the mass (in kg) of CO2 emitted by gasoline, convert the gallons of gasoline to kg (the density of gasoline is 0.7kg/l), and multiply by a factor of 3 (This factor comes from the chemical reaction equation for the burning of gasoline.):CO2 [kg] = x gals gasoline ⋅ 3.885l ⋅ 0.7kg ⋅3 1 gal l

    Electric Power Consumption:

  • Find your monthly electricity bill. You are billed for the kWhe (kilowatt-hourselectric) of electric energy you used during the month in question.
  • Figure out what the sources of your electricity are. (E.g., below is the “PowerContent Label” that SoCal Edison must provide to their customers by California Law. Or, you can use the information from the California Energy Commission provided in the slides from the lectures.)
  • For your carbon footprint, only the fraction of electricity generated by fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, or petroleum/oil) is relevant.
  • Use table 10.3 (page 343) of your textbook, to calculate the “grams of carbon equivalent per kWhe “ emitted by the power plant for your use of electricity. (This is the right hand column of the table.) You have to multiply this number by a factor of 44/12, to obtain the mass of CO2 emitted in grams. (See example problem in your textbook.) To convert the grams to kg, divide by 1,000.Natural Gas Consumption:
  • Find your monthly natural gas bill. You are billed for the “therms” of natural gasyou have used. 1 therm = 100,000 Btu. Using the table in the front of your textbook, you can find that 100,000 Btu corresponds approximately to 100 cf of natural gas.
  • In terms of CO2 emissions, 1,000 cf of natural gas produce 115 lbs of CO2. (For more information, see the website: ). To convert to kg, remember that 2.2 lbs correspond to 1 kg.

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