How Much CO2 Emissions Per kWh of Electricity?

1 kWh of electricity, when produced from a coal burning power plant, will generate 0.94 kg (or 2.07 lbs) of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere according to CNCF.

This means that you can work out the total emissions generated from your electricity usage quite easily.

Simply multiply you kWh usage (the total will be shown on your electricity bill) by 0.94kg (or 2.07 lbs) to get your total CO2 emissions.

Working Out Your CO2 Emissions From Your Electricity Bill

According to my last bill, as a family we use 25.5 kWh of electricity per day. This amount surprised me and I need to work on getting it down.

To work out our daily emissions I simply do 25.5 x 0.94 = 23.97 kg of CO2 emissions PER DAY!

To get yearly you simply times by 365. So for me it’s 23.97 x 365 = 8,749.05 kg of CO2 emissions per year.

However, generally electricity companies will simply show you your entire usage for the billing period in kWh’s so it’s easier to just use that figure.

What Are Some Quick Ways To Lower Your CO2 Emissions

There are 2 major ways to lower the CO2 emissions that come from your electricity bill.

The first is to source your electricity from clean renewable energy sources. This includes things like solar, wind etc and can be done either by having it installed yourself or by sourcing clean energy from your electrical company.

The downfall with this is that it often costs more money. For me to source clean energy in Australia my electricity bill automatically becomes 30-40% more expensive, which is a hard pill to swallow.

Other ways to lower your CO2 emissions are to find ways to lower your electricity usage.

I know I know people yabber on about this stuff all the time but for me I have found 2 simple methods to reduce my electricity usage and carbon emissions.

1. Change all light bulbs with LED ones

I worked out that LED lights pay for themselves in less than 1 year, so there is basically no reason not to do this.

If I told you that you could double your money in a year you would do it right? Well that’s basically what happens with LED lights. Replacing a 100 Watt light with an LED light can actually pay for itself in less than 4 months.

For us this meant our daily electricity usage from lights went from about 2 kWh/day to 0.4 kWh/day and saved over 500kg in carbon emissions.

2. Reduce Usage of High Wattage Devices (eg. Heaters and Airconditioners)

Most heaters run at around 2,000 watts. This means if you run a heater for an hour it will used 2 kWh and emit 1.88 kgs of CO2 (or 4.14 lbs) of CO2 per hour.

This includes all products with heating elements, even small ones like electric blankets. Basically anything with a heating element chews electricity and creates huge emissions.

So if you can use them just 1 hour less per day it’ll make even more of a difference than changing all your light globes.

For us we don’t have any products that use heating elements in our house (apart from our cooktop) and this keeps our electrical usage down dramatically. Granted we live in a warm climate so this is much easier for us.

10 thoughts on “How Much CO2 Emissions Per kWh of Electricity?”

  1. This article starts out deceptively. It states the amount of CO2 supposedly emitted by a kWh of power generated by a coal plant.

    But coal or oil plants are about like 27% of all power in the US, with 70% coming from relatively carbon-neutral sources like nuclear, natural gas, or “renewable” energy.

    In fact, I’ve lived in four different states, and all of them had nuclear power.

    So there’s a good chance that the readers don’t need to do ANY of the things you mention, in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

    This is the kind of stuff that makes people distrust environmental profiteers.

    Next you can tell us how we need to unplug our phone chargers, without mentioning that they only consume about 2 kWh of energy on standby for a whole year, so that Al Gore emits more carbon from his private jet flights than the whole US full of phone chargers left running part of the day, combined.

    1. It’s not deceptive it’s pretty straight forward. I clearly state coal burning power plant. I live in Australia where the bulk of electricity is sourced through coal burning power plants.

      1. The entire co2 issue is full of questions for me. First I wonder if achieving carbon neutral for a nation like the USA is even possible. I think about jets, trains, ships, and the like trying to use an energy source that is non carbon as likely impossible. Take our coal and oil burn rate every day, how much would we have to reduce this by to meet the goal of being a non contributor to co2 accumulation. Is it zero? Then I look at manufacturing and products made from oil and natural gas, how would we make steel, tires, asphalt. Heck, we would not even be able to have the Iphone. My gut instinct is the reason cutting co2 is so difficult is the general populations of countries would revolt if the use of coal, oil and gas was eliminated, heck even if they cut it 25% they would revolt. Countries like China, the world largest co2 emmitter is increasing it’s annual co2 emissions but claim they have a future plan to reduce co2 sometime. Here is a great suggestion, instead of simply saying cut your carbon footprint, publish the effective reduction for the USA that would achieve the needed goal to stop the increasing co2ppm.

    2. John A Stephens

      Dear Kaz…. it would seem that the topic of CO2 reduction is not very important to you. You mention living in the US, with a GDP generation of ~ 15.5 tons per capita. I live in central Mexico, have made no sacrifices in lifestyle and am generating 2.2 tons/year! I drive a small car, have heat, all LED lighting and grid solar electric (-.3 tons). BTW – NG electric is a huge generator!

    3. nicholas Aikens

      Agreed that there are other considerations than coal.
      Hydrocarbon gas (IE natural gas) is taking market share and is a bigger total carbon emitter in many areas.
      Utilities are switching to a model where cost coming from electricity connection is greater than electricity generation. I pay 5% more for 100% renewable electricity generation per my usage.

  2. John A Stephens

    Nice job Ryan… good info. We have a big house, tons of lighting, 2 well pumps, 2 refrigerators, computers, Tvs, etc and still only use 11 KwHrs… and our 10 panels have generated 13.7 KwHrs daily average this year (-0.6 tons, YTD). Main point – no sacrifice in lifestyle and only minimal investment. 27% ROI on solar in first 12 months! Saludos john

  3. Nice article. I live in India where more than 50% of the energy is derived from burning of coal. Now, it has become need of the hour to seriously think and implement the steps in the form of installing solar power systems at the roof top to reduce the CO2 emissions at the individual level.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. If you want to cut about 50kWh/person off your power usage install a drain water heat exchanger from Swing Green. This device simply recovers heat from drain water and uses it to preheat the feed to the water heater. It will cut your power to heat water by 30% or more.

  5. Michael Brown

    If any amount of electricity is produced by coal in a given locality, it would likely be the first source cut by any reduction in demand.

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