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your carbon diet by Ron Meyer, NOVA Online Production Assistant

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The United States is responsible for one quarter of the world's energy consumption, the vast majority of which is generated by burning fossil fuels. As a result, each American is directly or indirectly responsible for the release of 20 tons of CO2 each year. We are all aware that our cars burn gas like it is their business (well, it is their business). And we know heating and lighting our homes takes a significant amount of energy. But what about video games? Fish tanks? Computers? How efficient are we? A typical U.S. family spends close to $1,300 on home utility bills, much of which is spent on wasted energy. By taking some simple steps, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of energy you use - saving money on your next utilities bill and easing up on the CO2 we are pouring into the atmosphere.

Look around our typical New England house and click on the various items. You'll see what is draining energy and learn how to make your home more energy efficient. This simulation is not meant to be a definitive guide to energy consumption but rather a general look at how common sense can result in the saving of energy and money.

It is important to note that the factor for converting electricity to carbon emissions varies from region to region. In this example, we used New England's carbon emission factors.

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