Household carbon dioxide production in relation to the greenhouse effect

A survey of 655 households from eastern suburbs of Melbourne was undertaken to determine householders' attitudes to, and understanding of, the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide emissions resulting from car, electricity and gas use were computed and household actions which could reduce CO2 emissions were addressed. Preliminary analysis of the results indicates that householders in this area are aware of, and concerned about, the greenhouse effect, although their understanding of its causes is often poor. Many appreciate the contribution of cars, but are unclear about the relative importance of other household activities. Carbon dioxide emissions from the three sources examined averaged 21·2 tonnes/year per household and 7·4 tonnes/year per person. Electricity was the largest contributor (8·6 tonnes/year), cars the next largest (7·7 tonnes/year) and gas third (5·0 tonnes/year) per household. Emissions varied considerably from household to household. There was a strong positive correlation between availability of economic resources and household CO2 output from all sources. Carbon dioxide production, particularly from car use, was greater from households which were more distant from a railway station, and from larger households, and numbers of children in the household had little effect on emissions. There were also some economics of scale for households containing more adults. Understanding the causes of the greenhouse bore little relation to change in CO2 emissions; being concerned about it was associated with a small reduction; but actual actions to reduce car use and household heating, however motivated, produced significant reductions. Contributors: Coverage: Rights: © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.