Two solar panels

How Much Do Solar Panels Reduce Carbon Footprint?

Nov 20, 2019



What exactly is your carbon footprint?

Simply put, the term ‘carbon footprint’ is used to describe the total amount of greenhouse gases that are produced and released into the atmosphere to support your individual lifestyle. This is measured over a set period, usually one year.

Thanks to how modern society functions, most of us are seeing our carbon footprints increase significantly. This is contributing to the greenhouse effect, which is in turn leading to rising temperatures and causing global climate change.

What impacts our carbon footprint?

We make a huge number of decisions every day, all of which can impact our carbon footprint in some way. These decisions can seem small, for example choosing to drive to work, having a meal deal for lunch, or upgrading to the latest mobile phone. All of these things contribute to increased carbon emissions due to the amount of non-renewable energy which is required to facilitate these choices. Instead, choosing to walk to work, to take lunch from home, or to stick with your current phone handset, can all help to keep your carbon footprint down.

Just to put into perspective what we mean, 1kg of carbon dioxide is added to our individual carbon footprints for every one of the following actions we are responsible for:

  • 32 hours of computer usage
  • 5 plastic bags produced
  • 2 plastic bottles produced
  • 3.75 miles driven in a car

And it’s not just the small things we have to think about. Amongst the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint are air travel, omnivorous diets, and our electricity consumption. Making some lifestyle changes to ensure we fly less, reduce our meat consumption, and make greater use of green electricity can have a significant impact on reducing our carbon footprint.

How does electricity consumption affect our carbon footprint?

Carbon emissions are produced during the burning of fossil fuels which are all too often used as the main source of producing electricity and vehicle fuel, amongst other things. Our electricity consumption is rising year after year, due to greater reliance on technology in our everyday lives, which means our carbon footprints are also increasing.

For example, the average annual electricity consumption for a UK household is estimated to be around 3,360kWh, which equates to 2.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. So when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, we have to think both about how we are using electricity, and how that electricity is being made.

How do solar panels reduce your carbon emissions?

Using solar panels to harness energy from the sun is a great way to make the switch to green electricity.

Solar energy is a naturally-occurring, renewable energy source, which is why more and more people are choosing to invest in solar panels to power their homes. It’s classed as green energy because zero emissions are released when converting it into electricity. In fact, if we look back at that figure of 2.4 metric tons of CO2 produced by the average UK household’s electricity consumption - completely switching to using solar panels to produce green electricity instead would be the equivalent of planting more than 9 trees a year!

Residential solar PV systems are capable of meeting a household’s electricity consumption entirely and result in 80% lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. The only emissions which are produced at all come from the process of actually making the solar panels in the first instance, and reducing these emissions is a huge priority across the solar panel industry.

So if you’re serious about reducing your carbon footprint, considering switching to solar energy as your source of electricity can have a huge impact. If you’d like to learn more about Tonik’s solar offering, check out our solar panels and solar benefits calculator.

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