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I'm looking to calculate the carbon footprint associated with my computer use. How do I go about doing that?

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migrated from Feb 8 '11 at 21:58

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Using AMEE.

You can also check out Current Cost which provides a wealth of products for tracking energy usage which can then be used in calculating your carbon footprint via AMEE.

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Assuming you mean use and not the production/manufacture of the computer...

  • Measure how much power your computer uses.
  • Find out, if possible, where your energy is coming from. Unlikely to get a real answer.
  • Find out, if possible, the total energy output of that source.
  • Find out, if possible, the carbon dioxide produced at that energy source.
  • Do some simple division, etc.

There are several weak points here, you're unlikely to get a real answer unless you run a generator yourself. And it's a fairly meaningless metric anyway.

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You can probably find what mixture of power sources your power company uses. Once the power hits the high-voltage distribution grid it isn't really from that nuclear plant or coal plant any more. – David Thornley Feb 8 '11 at 21:55
I like TZHX's answer, but it's a bit incomplete, and there's more: <nl> – Charles Lindsay Feb 8 '11 at 22:29
(Hmmm. I'm only allowed to edit my comments for 5 minutes. Boo!) There's other things to account for, including other devices on your network (printer, router, cable modem, perhaps a shared folder on some other computer), and then there's your portion of your ISPs infrastructure, including servicing the last mile to your house, as well as all their billing computers. You might reasonably argue your marginal use of these services don't count, though. – Charles Lindsay Feb 8 '11 at 22:39
@Charles Lindsay - very true. – TZHX Feb 9 '11 at 8:51

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