How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Air Conditioner by 100%

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | March 15, 2024

Woman sticking her head out of her house window looks at her HVAC unit that has a giant black footprint marked as CO2 emitted from it and wonders how to reduce the carbon footprint of your air conditioner to reduce AC carbon emissions.

Knowing how to reduce the carbon footprint of your air conditioner by 100% might seem impossible if you use it at all.

But it’s not.

Certainly, turning off the AC unit when you can is a great way to not only reduce energy costs but also your carbon footprint.

However, there’s a way to reduce the emissions generated by your air conditioner completely, without foregoing the climate controls of your home. Using tree planting carbon offsets, like a one month carbon offset that is issued by carbon offset companies that specifically replant forests may and can erase your AC footprint down to zero.

Plus, there are other ways to curtail the cost of indoor climate control. This guide outlines each option so that you can find ways to slash your eco footprint and your expenses at that same time!

What Is the Carbon Footprint of an Air Conditioner?

Air conditioners use 7% of all the electricity in the US, at a yearly cost of $30 billion billed to homeowners, which results in 118 million metric tons of co2 released annually.

The carbon element emitted by the use of 95 kWh hydroelectric power is 380 g daily. Carbon produced by a 1.4-ton AC is 5730 g=5.8 kg per day, with an annual amount of 1370 kg if the air conditioner works for 21 days per month.1

How To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Home (Lower Your AC and HVAC Use)

Managing energy and HVAC emission systems provides ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Change Thermostat Settings

Set your thermostat to 73 degrees in the summer and 67 degrees in the winter. Even a few degrees less will save on energy cost and consumption.

  • Schedule Routine Maintenance & HVAC Filter Changes

Routine maintenance is crucial to keep an HVAC system running efficiently. That includes regular HVAC filter changes. Your HVAC systems use more energy to heat and cool when filters are clogged.

  • Check Ventilation and Air Quality

Installing air quality sensors will maintain the balance between quality indoor air quality and HVAC energy efficiency.

  • Upgrade Your System

Due to better efficiency, new heating and cooling systems use much less energy than systems even only ten years old. While costing a bit more at the outset, we will save plenty of cash with a new, higher-efficiency system.

  • Check For Any Air Leaks

Check for unsealed walls with the change of seasons. Air leaks and unsealed windows will increase the energy you use to cool and heat your home and office.2

In fact, adding insulation to your attic, walls and around windows can have a huge impact in lowering your energy use (and bills), in both summer and winter.

10 Ways to Reduce Your CO2 Using Home Maintenance Hacks

In addition to your AC, your home energy use is one of the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint.

Calculate your home energy use with this footprint calculator right now.

Reducing this number is easier than you might think. Here are some of the best options to get started:

  1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED lamps. They use 80 percent less energy.
  2. When buying a car, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  3. Recycle 70 percent of your household waste.
  4. Set thermostats 4°F lower in winter and 2°F higher in summer. Heating and cooling use 49 percent of home energy use.
  5. Wrap insulation around your water heater and set the thermostat to 110°F.
  6. Avoid products with lots of packaging to reduce trash by 11 percent.
  7. Schedule home energy reviews4 through collaborative utilities and energy service providers that offer energy-saving services for free and offer insulation and energy efficiency upgrades to your home.
  8. Use less hot water. Install a low-flow showerhead and wash your laundry in warm or cold water.
  9. Vacation close to home. Jet fuel waste is a big contributor to climate change.
  10. Walk or ride your bike, maybe carpool or use less mass transit.3

How Can Air Carbon Footprint Be Reduced?

In order to completely reduce your AC unit’s carbon emissions, offset strategies can be used.

But, you need to be careful to ensure that the offset is actually removing carbon emissions, not just storing them for later release.

For example, afforestation projects sound great on the surface, but in reality, many of these planting projects use non-native species in areas where trees have not traditionally grown. The result is sometimes disastrous, since the trees themselves are invasive species, they can damage delicate ecosystems.

When choosing a tree planting offset program, make sure to find reforestation projects that replace native trees and support the restoration of the entire habitat.

Switching to Green Energy options is another way to reduce the footprint of your AC. Green power is becoming cheaper and more available.

A 100 percent green energy supply means that all the electricity used is produced by solar panels, wind farms, and hydroelectric power stations.

How To Keep Cool in Rising Temperatures Without Raising Your Carbon Footprint

As temperatures rise, so do the demands for air conditioning.

This exponential demand for air conditioning is of great concern to climate change scientists. It’s predicted that 11 new units will be installed every second for the next 35 years.6

While the added HVAC units increase greenhouse gas emissions with their use of energy, the older models also leak hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are far more toxic to the environment than co2.

Knowing how to reduce the carbon footprint of your air conditioner by 100% is a challenge but there are more ways of keeping cool that are better for the climate.

Building passive design houses that use insulation and natural ventilation so that an air conditioner isn’t even needed.

Solar panels in a field generate green power, which can be used to reduce the carbon footprint of your AC.

(Image: Zbynek Burival11)

A passive design saves 55 to 75 percent of the electric bill in the summer!

Better neighborhood design. Trees were removed when suburban areas were subdivided and developed. Trees are a naturally effective way of cooling the environment. They also provide shade to roofs and yards thus reducing the home heat load.

Urban heat islands take place in environments paved with concrete. Try walking barefoot on concrete exposed to 100-degree sun. No fun.

Planting more trees will increase canopy and shade cover. Urban initiatives designed to add trees are taking place worldwide.7

How To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

What can you do to keep cool in a more sustainable way without building a new home and home or planting more trees?

The Romans understood the power of water. An indoor fountain has the ability to reduce the temperatures in a room, especially when combined with open breezeways.

Although that’s not an option for everyone, learning how to reduce the carbon footprint of your air conditioner is really just a matter of measuring the energy you use and then investing in offset strategies that will erase it.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Air Conditioner

What Is the Carbon Footprint of an Air Conditioner?

The carbon element of 95 kWh hydroelectric power is 380 g daily. Carbon produced by a 1.4-ton AC is 5720 g, 5.9 kg per day, with an annual annum of 1350 kg if the air conditioner works for 21 days per month.


How Can I Make My Air Conditioner More Sustainable?

Choose energy-saving models and maintain them regularly to reduce leaks and operate one with efficient design and size.



Is There an Environmentally Friendly Air Conditioner?

Many contemporary air conditioning systems are extremely efficient and no longer rely on refrigerants, which contributes greatly to their environmental friendliness.


How Do Air Conditioners Contribute to Global Warming?

Air conditioning is a major contributor to climate change. At least 85 percent of U.S. homes use air conditioners, which account for 7 percent of all residential energy use. The operation of air conditioning results in the release of 102 million tons of co2 annually.5


What Is the Air Conditioner Greenhouse Gas?

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are manufactured in freezers, refrigerators, and air conditioners and are hundreds of times more potent than co2 in their contribution to global warming.


How Much CO2 Does an Air Conditioner Emit?

The emissions generated by an AC unit vary, depending on the size of the unit, how old it is, and how the electricity is sourced. For example, an older unit that still uses Freon gas will generate more emissions than a newer, larger model that is operated using green energy.


How Can We Reduce Heat And Air Conditioning to Fight Global Warming?

The best way to reduce the emissions from HVAC units it to source the power they use from green sources. The electricity that powers units in a location that burns coal to get electric is much worse than in a place that uses hydroelectric or solar power.



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11Photo by Zbynek Burival. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>