Carbon Neutral Homes: Can they Exist?

The concerned home owner should reduce their carbon emissions long before tackling the idea of running carbon neutral homes. This is because Carbon Neutral refers to the household’s overall carbon footprint balancing out to zero. At a glance this is an attractive ideal: having little or no negative impact on the environment. The problem is that most of us have being living on the planet for some time; driving cars, using public transport, cooking, cleaning, running air conditioners, heating water, using electricity, and so much more. Therefore, given the needs of living a modern life most of us are already deeply in debt with respect to clawing our way into being a truly carbon neutral home.


The Carbon Neutral Problem: How much in debt are we?


The problem is that it is unclear how much carbon based energy has been used in your life to date. So this list is merely the tip of the potential iceberg in determining our extended carbon footprint.

  • How much fossil fuel energy was used in transporting the materials for your home?
  • How much fossil fuel energy (electricity) was used in making the materials for your home?
  • How much petrol have you used in going to the shops?
  • How much energy was used in producing and transporting the goods you buy?
  • How much electricity (made by burning fossil fuels) has your household used up until now?

Unless you’re participating in something like the Zero Carbon House Project, then the net zero required for a true carbon neutral home might be an impractical goal. This project tracks the embodied carbon use of the home from construction through to living. Fortunately, the solution is wonderfully simple… don’t bother with carbon neutrality and instead focus on reducing carbon emissions.


Reducing Carbon Emissions: It really is easy.


There is a lot of good information about reducing your carbon footprint that does not involve uprooting your life and rebuilding it from the ground up. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a start.

  • Install photovoltaic solar panels. This reduces your dependence on fossil fuels and Eskom.
  • Use less hot water, and insulate your geyser.
  • Unplug electronics not in use. They often draw power simply by being plugged in.
  • Buy locally grown fresh foods. This reduces the costs of transport in your products.
  • Grow your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Avoid heavily packaged products.
  • Carpool and keep your car well maintained.
  • Eat less beef. Cows emit the greenhouse gas methane.

This alone will significantly reduce your carbon emissions, and collectively put us on the right path towards a sustainable carbon future. Also many of these are a feature living in the Zero Carbon House, and should not impact much on quality of life.


The important thing is to focus on the practical changes that we can make in our day-to-day lives over auditing every detail of our household’s history. For most of us living a carbon neutral life is beyond our scope to measure, this does not mean we’re helpless. Far from it… we can reduce our dependence on carbon based energy with a few small changes.


For those ready to make a large change in the direction of carbon neutral, contact Soventix for a quote for a home solar panel power system.


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