Announcing Green Energy in the Home with TerraPass

Every Home TerraPass comes with this handy fridge magnetTerraPass customers have been asking us for a while about green energy in the home. You asked…we delivered. Introducing the Home TerraPass. Find out how much carbon your home energy emits and offset it today!

This has been an interesting — and eye-opening — product to develop, and I wanted to share a few of the revelations I’ve had along the way. Let me throw a few facts at you.

  1. Residential energy is responsible for around 21% of total U.S. carbon emissions. Wow! That’s more than the total emissions of all cars on U.S. roads.
  2. Residential energy carbon emissions continue to grow by around 2.2% every year. Despite all the talk of saving energy, we’re still getting worse. (At TerraPass, we like to blame plasma TVs.)
  3. Electricity generated in Kansas can be up to 3.5 times more polluting than the same amount of energy generated in Washington state. It’s all about what goes into your utility’s electricity generators. Some use water, others use coal. Guess which is more carbon-friendly.
  4. Replacing one 100 watt incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) can save up to 350 lbs of carbon a year. This is the amount of carbon you’d emit driving from LA to San Francisco. And the quality of CFLs is much better than it used to be. To show you how good they are, we’re including a free CFL with every Home TerraPass.

There are a lot of home energy calculators available on the web, and we humbly submit that ours is the best. It considers far more detailed factors than most, and hopefully comes up with more accurate estimates as a result.

Of course, there are a lot of green power programs out there for home energy. How does TerraPass compare? You be the judge:

  1. As always with TerraPass, all carbon reductions are verified by an independent third party auditor. We are the only ones in the biz with a published verification report.
  2. A Home TerraPass comes with goodies for your green lifestyle, including a recycled bag dispenser and a compact fluorescent light bulb.
  3. A Home TerraPass is significantly cheaper than typical green power programs. Because prices vary so widely, it’s hard to say exactly how much cheaper we are, but we estimate on average we cost about 66% less. Why? Because your utility is overcharging you.

Best of all, our emissions calculator not only helps you offset your carbon emissions, it gives you personalized tips on how your can reduce your emissions in the first place. By agreeing to act on these tips, you can even lower the price of your Home TerraPass. So get started by calculating your home energy emissions.

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  1. Anonymous - September 6, 2006

    I have two questions are reading the piece about home Terra Pass. One is I bought a terra pass for my car and assumed it was tax deductible, but realize now that it probably isn’t. Is that true? Also I noticed that article said burning wood is carbon neautral. How is that possible since the carbon taken in as a tree grows is now released or is it somehow changed by the burning process into an environmentally friendly waste product?.

  2. Matthew Parrish - September 6, 2006

    I think it’s carbon neutral becuase, as you say, the tree takes in carbon as it grows. So, the carbon released is the same carbon that was absorbed by the tree. It only puts out what it takes. That makes it neutral.

  3. Flashdaddy - September 6, 2006

    This touches on a point that has bothered me over the last few years. Energy use in homes, is a large part of the problem, while auto emissions have improved enough that they are a realatively smaller part of the problem. I suppose it could be that our homes “tail-pipe” isn’t as visible as an every day reminder. It seems to me that if more of the pressure being placed on the auto industry was focused on energy standards for new construction, energy infrastructure, etc. a larger impact could be realized.

  4. pete - September 6, 2006

    Thanks for all your comments. Let me pick up on a few of the questions raised here.

    Anonymous: I’m sorry you had thought otherwise, but no, TerraPasses are not tax deductible. Nor do we believe carbon offsets should be if purchased from any other source, whether for profit or non-profit.

    As regards wood stoves, Matthew’s answer is spot on. This, of course only relates to carbon emissions. Wood stoves do all kinds of other damage to the environment, notably particulate emissions; homes in Lake Tahoe now have to have catalytic converters fitted to wood stoves.

    Flashdaddy you hit the nail on the head here. We’ve made the same obervations at TerraPass. Because there is no smoking chimney for home emissions, it’s difficult to get an idea of just how destructive overuse of home energy can be. Hopefully people will come to appreciate the scale of the problem with our new calculator. Thank you all for your comments!


  5. Monty - September 7, 2006

    Big fan of TerraPass, and very glad you started a home program. I like to TerraPass on my blog and have encouraged readers, family and friends to sign up.
    Energy use in homes is a very large part of carbon emissions. However, much like with automobiles, it is a combination of factors that are causing the problem. With automobiles, the focus has (incorrectly) been on gas mileage. In fact, the primary issue is how much you drive, which is usually a factor of how close you live to your place of employment. Someone with a 10 mile commmute each day could drive a Hummer for all it matters since the person with a 50 mile commute in their Prius is causing more damage to the environment.
    Homes have the same issue. If you have five people in a 2500 square foot home (and that is your ONLY home), you are not doing nearly the damage of two people living in a McMansion with 4000 square feet with 4 plasma TV’s and a vacation house on the coast. (Note that it is usually someone who purchased the McMansion out in the suburbs with a large commute to the office in their SUV, as well.)
    Anyway, I like the way your home and auto emissions calculators try (and are fairly successful) at calculating all of these factors in.
    Keep up the great work!

  6. Ray - September 12, 2006

    Your calculations, and especially the TerraPass designed for homes, apparently fail to factor in the use of alternative energy. Being entirely off the grid, we use no commercial electricity, generating enough for all our needs via solar panels and a hydro-electric system. Our back-up generator uses about 10 gallons of gasoline per year to cover usage when our solar and hydro are down for some reason. We use wood for 75% of our heat. We use propane for 20% of our heating, and electricity for the other 5%. We use propane to heat water and for cooking. I am at a loss as to how to calculate our carbon emissions and environmental impact. Suggestions?

  7. Tom - September 13, 2006

    Hi Ray:
    Actually the home calculator will work for you — you reduce your bills by using renewable energy, and therefore your carbon footprint.
    Wood stoves are essential carbon balanced.

  8. Austin - March 17, 2008

    Hi, pete. Why do you think carbon-offsetting should not be tax-deductible?
    My partner and I spent almost $500 on terrapass carbon-offsetting this year (for our car, our home, and for our wedding), and it was a curious thing to discover your comment while searching for information on whether our contribution was tax-deductible.
    Thanks in advance.

  9. Adam Stein - March 17, 2008

    Hm. I don’t think we have an opinion one way or the other on whether offsets “should be” tax-deductible. If the government wanted to carve out a special tax exemption for our industry, that would be lovely. Unfortunately, they haven’t done so, so offsets aren’t deductible. Our understanding is that this is true of all offset providers, although obviously some others have received different advice.
    One other thing — offsets are deductible if they’re a business expense, but that doesn’t help most individual buyers.