Carbon offset programs: How do they cut your emissions?

Smoke stack with emissions

With energy providers flocking to clean power initiatives, carbon offset programs have seen a rise in population. While they differ from bringing renewable energy into your household or taking part in a GreenPower program, carbon offsetting is an efficient way to cut down on the emissions of your home. 

As the clean energy transition continues around Australia, energy retailers are finding more ways to allow customers to go greener with their power usage. Increased green energy on the grid means cleaner power is entering households as a part of our everyday usage, but for those looking to do more there are a few options.

While ensuring your home runs on 100% renewable energy requires you to produce your own energy and GreenPower plans will see you paying to match your energy on the grid, carbon offset programs are often available at a fraction of the cost or even free with some retailers. 

Carbon offset programs match your emissions as credit

Carbon offset programs are frequently advertised as making your household carbon neutral, they don’t physically reduce the emissions coming from your home energy usage. Instead, the emissions from your household energy usage is calculated and purchased in corresponding carbon offsets, in effect cancelling out your emissions.

Carbon offsets are purchased in accordance with the Australian Government’s Climate Active program to ensure clear and credible climate action programs receive the offset credits. 

By contributing carbon offset units to climate action programs, customers are supporting clean energy initiatives in Australia and around the globe.

Why is offsetting carbon usage beneficial?

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which collects in our atmosphere and keeps in the sun’s heat. While greenhouse gasses can actually help our planet to a point, our atmosphere now has far too much carbon dioxide as well as other gasses in great concentration, and they contribute to natural disasters and climate change. 

The average Australian household generates around 14 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, which rates quite badly against the rest of the developed world. 

The burning of fossil fuels for energy in both the transport sector and our personal home usage are the largest contributors to these emissions, so offsetting your power usage can dramatically decrease your personal carbon footprint. 

The climate action projects from which carbon credits are purchased focus on dramatically decreasing emissions from areas around Australia, and the world, through a number of initiatives ranging in size and scope. 

How much will a carbon offset program cost me?

This will come down to your energy provider. Some will offer a carbon offset program free of charge, matching your household emissions in credits, only requiring you to ‘opt-in’ to the initiative. 

Other providers may charge a small fee in order to match your emissions in credits, but as a carbon credit costs between $20-$50 to match a tonne of emissions this fee should not be over the top.

Who offers carbon offset programs?

The majority of major energy providers will offer a carbon offset program or carbon neutral initiative. Check with your energy retailer to see what schemes they offer to support the clean energy transition. 

If you’re with a smaller provider, they may still offer a carbon offset program as they are continually increasing in popularity.

Not all retailers offer such programs, and may instead have their own initiatives or none at all. Enquire with your retailer about their clean energy initiatives, or check out providers in your area over at our energy hub.

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