- General questions
- Setting up your account
- Annual emissions figures
- About your graph
- Entering readings
Who built the Carbon Account?
Torchbox, a web development company with a strong interest in doing something about climate change. To find out more about Torchbox, please visit our website.
What's the purpose of the site?
We thought that existing carbon calculators weren't accurate enough and didn't let users track the effectiveness of their reduction efforts. The Carbon Account allows you to accurately monitor your emissions and how they change over time.
What plans are there for future development?
We initially designed the Carbon Account to help stimulate a debate about personal carbon trading. Being able to add a friend is one step towards trading between individuals, but there are lots of other things we'd like to do as well, such as integrate the site with smart meters. If you are interested in collaborating, get in touch.
Can I use the Carbon Account to monitor business emissions?
It depends on your definition of business emissions. If you'd like to use the Carbon Account with your colleagues we can make a special version so that you can track your collective progress. We are working to create tools for businesses to report office energy use, transport and flights. If you'd like to find out more about this, please contact us.
Can I link to the Carbon Account?
That would be great, but please contact us to let us know.
Setting up your account
Why doesn't it include food or public transport?
The Carbon Account only covers direct emissions: domestic energy, private vehicles and flights. The reason we haven't included indirect emissions is because they are very difficult to calculate on an individual basis. We wanted to build a calculator with a very high level of accuracy rather than try and cover everything. If you want to get a rough idea of how other parts of your lifestyle affect your footprint, try an eco-footprint calculator.
Is my Carbon Account for my household or for me as an individual?
It's for you as an individual. We take your house footprint (which you see on the Houses page) and divide it by the number of people you've told us you live with. Children count as half an adult (it's up to you when you consider children grown-up!).
I share my car with someone else, is there any way that I can tell the Carbon Account?
Not at the moment, but we may introduce this feature in the future. In the meantime you should agree who's going to take responsibility for the car and only one person should enter its emissions.
Why do you ask me for so much personal information and what will you use it for?
Please read our privacy statement.
I use a combination of gas and electricity for cooking, what should I select?
Please select the gas option.
Why do you ask for my car registration?
The Carbon Account links to the DVLA database so that we can pick up the emissions factor for your car. You can enter the miles per gallon manually if you like. We also use the registration as an identifier for your vehicle. If you donÕt want to give us your registration you can enter any identifier (e.g. 'My car').
I don't know my car registration, what should I do?
Select 'Skip this step' and then add it later via the vehicles page. You can edit all details of your vehicle if you've made any mistakes.
How is my estimated annual footprint calculated?
The figure comes from what you've told us about your house and car (it doesn't include any flights). At the moment we use our own methodology to calculate the figure.
Questions about annual emissions figures
How do you calculate my annual carbon footprint?
There are two annual footprint figures that appear above your emissions graph: your estimated emissions and your recorded emissions. The estimate is based on the answers you gave us during registration, and the actual footprint is based on the meter readings, car mileage and flights that you've added to your Carbon Account (if you haven't added more than two readings then your recorded readings will be blank).
Other carbon calculators have given me very different results to the Carbon Account, why is this?
It's probably because other carbon calculators look at both direct and indirect emissions, whereas the Carbon Account only looks at direct/personal emissions. Also, some other calculators work on the basis of a household footprint whereas the Carbon Account is for individuals. There are some moves to standardise carbon calculations (such as through AMEE) and we support these efforts.
How do you calculate my flight emissions?
We use methodology similar to Atmosfair, and we use a radiative forcing factor of 2.7 (this is the generally accepted figure for emissions released at altitude; see the IPCC report titled Aviation and the Globat Atmosphere (1999).
My recorded footprint seems very low, why is this?
The recorded footprint only uses data you've entered two readings for because we take the difference between each reading to come up with your emissions. So for example if you've entered two car readings but only one gas and electricity reading, your footprint will only take into account the car readings. Your footprint is most accurate when you've recently entered a reading for every component of your emissions profile.
How do I tell what's making the largest contribution to my footprint?
You can view the footprint for each individual component (vehicles, houses and flights) by viewing those individual pages. On your graph, the colour you can see most of is making the biggest contribution to your footprint (it's an area graph).
Where does the UK average figure come from?
When flights are included, the average total UK footprint is around 10-12 tonnes CO2 per year. Because we are only looking at personal emissions, our figure is just under half the total. It's difficult to come up with a completely accurate average and so we may change the figure in future (and hopefully it will go down!).
How do I set a target?
Clicking on the “Your Target” link lets you set a target, and read about how to reduce your emissions.
Questions about your graph
I've only just registered and haven't entered any readings, why can I already see a graph?
We plot your estimated footprint based on the answers you gave us during registration. The reason it dips in February is because the graph is plotting your monthly output and February only has 28 days. As you enter actual readings your estimate graph gets pushed back and eventually you will only see you actual emissions graph.
Why does the estimate graph assume that I will use the same amount of energy in summer as in winter, surely this is wrong?
This is something we plan to change in the future. At the moment our estimate assumes you use the same amount of carbon all year round. In reality people use more energy for heating and lighting in the winter because it's colder and darker.
I've just added a reading, why hasn't my graph changed?
To start plotting your actual emissions we need you to enter two readings for each component of your footprint. The reason for this is that we take the difference between each reading to get your emissions. When you have been entering data for a few months you should be able to start really seeing the changes in your graph.
Why does my graph exclude flights?
It doesn't. You can make your graph show flights by clicking 'excluding flights'. The reason we give you the choice to view the graph with or without flights is because flights increase your footprint so much we need to change the scale of the graph. If we didn't do this it would be very hard to show the fluctuations in your domestic energy and car emissions (obviously if you choose not to fly it doesn't make any difference if they are set to not appear).
I haven't entered a reading for some time, but my graph is still plotting data; why is this?
In order to avoid the graph dropping off if you fail to enter regular readings, we project forward your emissions at the same rate as your previous readings. To make the graph fully accurate, just keep entering your readings.
How do I enter a reading?
You can either enter a reading from your Account Home by clicking the 'Add a reading' button above your graph, or you can enter readings from the Houses, Vehicles and Flights pages.
I have no idea how to read my electricity or gas meter - can you help?
Yes; try our meter-reading help. If you're still having trouble, contact your energy supplier.
I'm entering a flight but the airport I want isn't coming up, what should I do?
Please contact us with the name of the city/airport and we will add it to the list.
Help, I've made a mistake with one of my readings and now my graph is wrong!
Don't worry, you can edit or delete your readings by visiting the relevant page: Houses, Vehicles or Flights.
I haven't entered a reading in ages, is this a problem?
You can enter readings as frequently or infrequently as you like. The more often you enter readings, the more accurate your graph and carbon footprint will be.
I've got lots of historical data I want to enter, is this possible?
Yes. Just make sure that you change the date when you're entering the historical data. It's easier to enter historical data from the Houses or Vehicles page because you can see all the data in a table.
I've been entering my car mileage, but wouldn't it be more accurate if I entered the amount of fuel I've been using?
You are correct. This feature will be available in future but for the moment we're only taking car mileage because it doesn't matter if you forget to enter a reading for a while (if you were entering petrol then every time you forget to enter a fuel purchase your footprint would decrease).
Questions about people
I know my friend is registered but I can't find them when I type their name in the 'people search' box
You need to tell your friend to make their profile public. Only people with public profiles can be searched for and seen by other people.
I don't want people to be able to find me and add me as a friend
Go to your details and uncheck the box that says 'make profile public'.
How do I remove a friend?
Go to their profile page (by clicking on their icon on your dashboard) and click the "Remove friend" link.
Why do me and my friends appear as dog, fish or eagles?
You were assigned an icon when you registered; you can upload a photo to replace that photo.
If anything is unclear, or if you have a question that isn't covered, please contact us.