Carbon footprint calculators are a great way to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from the way you travel, your home energy use, food choices, and other daily activities. Knowing your carbon footprint is the first step towards reducing it.

  • WWF Footprint Calculator – Great for a quick and easy understanding of your approximate carbon footprint
  • UN Carbon Footprint Calculator – This calculator provides a more accurate assessment of your household’s carbon footprint, based on data that you provide
  • Natwest Carbon Planner – aimed at businesses, this provides a calculator and an action planning tool. Other business calculators are listed on the Business Climate Hub.

Please note that some of these calculators may link to other products which CAfS has not reviewed and can not endorse. In particular, some may link to carbon offset programmes – CAfS would always recommend that individuals and businesses channel their efforts and available finances into reducing their own emissions as the priority. For more discussion on offsetting, please watch our Understanding Carbon Offsetting webinar.

What is a carbon footprint?

‘Carbon’ is the shorthand term for all greenhouse gases, as carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent one. The term ‘footprint’ means the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted from a particular activity. A carbon footprint is measured in kg or tonnes of CO2e (‘e’ means ‘equivalent’).

You can measure the carbon footprint of anything – a portion of chips, a flight, a holiday. It’s up to you what you’re interested in and where you draw the line.

Our calculators measure the carbon footprint of a year in the life of your household or your business. They include the direct emissions that you produce, mainly from the fuel that you consume in your buildings and vehicles, but also the emissions from some of the everyday things you consume.

Why measure your carbon footprint?

Measuring your carbon footprint is useful in several ways:

  • It gives you an understanding of the size of your environmental impact.
  • That will hopefully then give you the motivation to reduce it, and you’ll know where you’re starting from. You may even want to set yourself a carbon reduction target.
  • The calculator also shows you the relative size of emissions from different areas of your life or business. This allows you to focus your efforts on the areas with the biggest potential to reduce emissions.
  • You can measure each year to track your reduction.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

Our Sustainable Living Guide is a great place to start, with lots of advice for reducing your carbon footprint. Much of this is relevant to businesses as well as households. We work closely with other organisations who can provide both advice and funding, and our guide will signpost you to them and also to other useful advice online.

We also regularly organise interactive events where you can ask us questions. Keep an eye on our events page and in our newsletter for what’s coming up.

What about carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is where you invest in a project to reduce or capture carbon outside of your life or business, to compensate for the emissions that you have not yet been able to eliminate.  

It has been a bit of a controversial area. Some people feel that it morally ‘lets people off the hook’ and allows them to carry on polluting. There is also concern about how reliable some of the offsetting programmes are. However, others believe that, given the urgency of the climate crisis, investing in carbon reduction projects elsewhere, alongside your own reduction efforts, is an essential part of the solution to combat climate change. 

CAfSrecognises the role of offsetting as part of a range of measures needed to ensure Cumbria can achieve net-zero carbon by 2037.  However, reducing emissions is the priority and offsetting should only be used to offset your carbon emissions that are currently unavoidable. 

If you are considering offsetting, it is important to make sure that you choose a scheme that is high quality and independently verifiedCarbon Footprint Ltd, which produced our calculators, runs its own offsetting programme, and there is a link to it via the calculator. This is completely optional and we would encourage you to first review the information about the programme on its website to help you decide whether it is something you wish to invest in.