CoolClimate Calculator F.A.Q.

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CoolClimate Calculator Frequently Asked Questions 

Where can I find information on the calculations and data sources?

Should I enter information as an individual or a household?

What happens when I select City or Region?

What if I live outside of California?

What happens when I select number of people in household?

Why is entering income important?

Can the personal information I enter be viewed by any other computer?

What are “Similar Households"?

Are default answers entered automatically?

What is included in “Public Transportation"?

Can I enter energy consumption in kWh, therms or other units?

Utilities are included in my rent. How can I enter this information?

What if I buy local and organic food? Are emissions really higher if I pay more?

What types of items are included in the four major categories of goods and services?

Can I save my results?

Who developed the CoolClimate Calculator?

Who can I contact to learn more about the calculator?

What are the terms of use?

 

Where can I find information on the calculations and data sources?
 

A description of all calculations in the tool (Transportation, Housing, Food, and Goods & Services) is available in our documentation page at: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/documentation

 

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Should I calculate as an individual or a household?
 

It's up to you. The Cool California Calculator allows you to select the number of people in your household. It then generates a default footprint for all people in your household and allows you to adjust the inputs based on your household's particular consumption choices.

If you are an individual living in shared housing then you may be only interested in calculating your own personal emissions. If this is the case you should only enter data that corresponds to your own personal share or contribution towards the items in the calculator. For example, only enter the portion of the electricity bill that corresponds to your consumption, rather than the electricity bill for the entire house. Similarly, only enter the number of square feet of housing that correspond to your share of the total living area. For example, if five people live in a house, you may want to divide the total square footage of the house by 5.

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What happens when I select a City or Region?
 

We use the US Consumer Expenditures Survey, provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), to determine what a typical household in each city or region consumes. This serves as the foundation for all default values in the calculator. Since BEA provides consumption data on the top US metropolitan statistical regions we are able to estimate the climate footprint of the typical household in each of these major cities.

Selecting City or Region also adjusts for local prices as provided by the US Census.

Estimating “California Average" household

Consumption data is not available for the state of California, but rather for major US metropolitan areas (e.g., Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in the state of California) and for major regions of the United States. The region “West", includes Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Income in California is 3% higher than average income on the West. We therefore increase all consumption categories in the calculator by 3% to estimate consumption patterns by the typical California household. This calculation should not be considered as accurate as estimates for cities since consumption in each category may not scale linearly with income as we have assumed.

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 What if I live outside of California?
 

If you live in outside of California, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley has an identical calculator that includes all U.S. states and 28 major metropolitan regions:

http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/

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What happens when I select number of people in household?
 

When the following two questions are answered:

1)      How many people live in your household?

2)      What is your gross annual household income?

default values for all questions in the calculator are automatically filled in. The user can then progress through the calculator to change answers based on their own behavior. Default values are provided by the US Consumer Expenditures Survey.

 

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Why is entering income important?
 

Income and household size are highly correlated with greenhouse gas emissions. In order for the calculator to most closely approximate your annual household emissions income and household size help to approximate consumer spending for households with similar characteristics.

 

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Can the personal information I enter be viewed by any other computer?
 

No. The data entered in the calculator is not saved and can not be viewed by any other computer. This is because Flash is a "client side" application. In other words, once the file loads to your computer it no needs an internet connection.

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What are "Similar Households"?
 

Similar households have the same number of people and income level. The calculator generates default values based on these characteristics. These default values are automatically entered into the calculator. Therefore, if you do not answer a question, the calculator assumes you are like households with similar characteristics. This feature is particularly useful if it is difficult for you to answer the questions; just assume you are like everyone else.

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Are default answers entered automatically?
 

Yes, if you do not answer a question, the default value is entered automatically. You can choose to accept the defaul values or enter your own. If you choose to keep any default values; however, you will not be able to save and retrieve your results. This function, which is available on the Intro and Summary pages, only works if all questions in the calculator are answered.

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What is included in "Public Transportation"?

 

Public transportation includes inter-city and inner-city bus, light rail, subway and train. Emissions per mile differ for each of these categories. We have taken a weighted average of all public transportation modes.

Future versions of the tool will allow users to drill-down to enter miles for each transport mode independently.

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Can I enter energy consumption in kWh, therms or other units?
 

The current tool only allows users to utilities data in dollars. This should be considered a rough estimate based average emissions per dollar from each utility provider.

Future versions of the tool will allow users enter kWh for electricity and therms for natural gas directly from utility bills.

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Utilities are included in my rent. How can I enter this information?
 

If you do not pay for your utilities directly you can simply accept the default values for similar households, or adjust these based on your best guess of whether you use more or less energy than most households with the same number of people and income.

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What if I buy local and organic food? Are emissions really higher if I pay more?
 

The calculator currently estimates emissions for average products. If you pay more organic products than conventional products then you may consider reducing your answers to compensate for higher prices.

Future versions of the tool will allow users to select organic and adjust emissions appropriately based on difference in price and, to the extent data is available, based on energy inputs to different farming systems.

 

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What types of items are included in the four major categories of goods and services?
 

Clothing includes things like:

  • Indoor and outdoor clothing

  • Fabrics and yarns

  • Shoes

  • Accessories (including jewelry, hats, etc.)

  • Luggage and backpacks

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Other textile or leather items

Furnishings and other household items includes things like:

  • Furniture and other furnishings, such as art

  • Appliances (large and small)

  • Yard items (plants, fertilizers)

  • Household maintenance and tools (anything from toilet paper, to paint, to power saws)

Other goods includes things such as:

  • Medical goods

  • Entertainment

  • Paper, office and reading

  • Personal care and cleaning

  • and Auto parts

Services includes things such as:

  • Vehicle Services

  • Household maintenance and repair

  • Education

  • Health care

  • Personal business and finances

  • Entertainment & Recreation

  • Information and communication

  • Organizations and charity

  • Personal services and clothing services

  • Childcare and domestic workers

  • Animal Services

  • And other miscellaneous services

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Can I save my results?
 

Yes, the answers to all your questions are stored online in your account, and you can re-loaded, changed or deleted them any time. To save results:

  1. Click the "Save" button on the Take Action page, which is on the last tab of the calculator
  2. After you click save, a dialogue will appear below the "Save" button with links to "login" or "register." If you have already created an account, simply click "login" and your new calculator resutls will be saved to your account. This will replace any existing results you have saved previously. If you don't have an account, simply click "register" to easily create a free account and save your information.

Users that have accounts may log in at any time in the future to view their results and track their pledges.

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Who developed the CoolClimate Calculator?

 

The CoolClimate Calculator was developed by researchers at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University of California, Berkeley. RAEL is directed by professor Daniel M. Kammen, and the lead researcher on the CoolClimate project is Christopher M. Jones. Jones developed previous versions of the calculator, dating back to the first version in 2003. For information on older versions of the calculator, visit the Papers & Presentations page and download the working paper from 2003.

The calculator has received financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Urban Sustainability Initiative: PI, Daniel Kammen), the World Wildlife Fund (PI, Daniel Kammen), the Berkeley Institute of the Environment and the Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society.

The California Air Resources Board provided source data (utilities, air travel and public transportation) and technical support for the California version of the tool, CoolCalifornia.org, which is a joint project of the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Next Ten.

 

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Where can I find more information on the calculator?
 

Please feel free to contact us for more information on the Cool California Calculator.

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What are the terms of use?
 

For the full Terms of Use please visit http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/terms-of-use.

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