Tips for Buying Renewable Electricity
Even though renewable energy is getting less costly to install each year, the up-front costs for many families and companies is still difficult to bear. But putting solar panels on your roof isn't the only way to support renewable energy. A growing number of electric companies are offering green power, green pricing or renewable energy credits (RECs) to consumers. Here are some tips for making the switch to clean power and supporting the greening of our grid:
- Find out how green your existing utility is with the EPA’s handy power profile report. Simply plug your zip code into the form and you’ll get a report on both the power mix in your area and the types of emissions produced by those sources.
- Use the Green Power Locater to find out if and where you can buy green power in your state along with the certification and premiums (if any) on those providers. Even your existing utility may offer a renewable option. Green-e also offers a renewable power locater.
- Learn the lingo. Green Power is renewable electricity directly supplying the grid, large or small, that you draw power from. A Renewable Energy Credit (or REC) is proof of one megawatt-hour of renewable energy generation that you can buy separately and match with your home electricity use to make it green. Green Pricing allows you to add renewables to your power mix after paying a premium on your bill, though signing up for some green pricing programs could even cost less than your regular electric bill!
- Crowdfund a renewable project in your community. Think of it like a community garden: neighbors can buy “shares” in a solar project in their town to both make a bigger impact than a single project and save money. Colorado and Delaware have the most experience with such arrangements, but others are joining the fray. Visit Northwest Community Energy for more information.
- Ask your utility to support green power. Email or call your power company and tell them that you want them to both switch to sustainable sources like wind and solar and offer their customers more green power options.
- Make sure it’s certified. Green-e is the most widely-used certification system for renewable energy generation in the U.S. Check that your clean energy supplier meets Green-e standards.
- Don’t forget about efficiency. Efficiency might not be as flashy as renewables, but it could make an even bigger impact on emissions reductions while reducing your electricity costs. Check out our article on weatherproofing your home or Going Green Today for helpful advice.
- Compete with your friends. If you’re on Facebook, consider connecting to Opower social to easily compare your energy usage with your friends and get energy-saving tips.
Resources from our member organizations:
Buy Green Power, Union of Concerned Scientists
Bottom Line on Renewable Energy Certificates, World Resources Institute
Renewable Energy for America, Natural Resources Defense Council
Cool Citizens: Everyday Solutions to Climate Change: Household Solutions, Rocky Mountain Institute
Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge, Student Conservation Association