Day 14: Get green energy
Today's action: Making the move to renewable energy at home
Today, take 10 minutes to research renewable energy options for your home. While you might need more than 10 minutes to officially make the switch (though maybe not! It’s fast to sign up!), you can use today to start your research and make a plan. Check out the ideas below or ask your local friends if they have recommendations for a specific company.
If you’re a renter, or if you’re a homeowner who just wants a lower commitment, options include:
Community solar power. Think of community solar power as a sort of community garden, but instead of producing food, it produces solar energy. Community solar doesn’t require installation fees or a roof, and helps to drive demand for new solar projects in your community. It can also save you money on your electricity bills. (Kaitlin signed up with this service last year, which offers a guaranteed savings rate and is available in several US states.) You can learn more about community solar and search for nearby projects here.
Green pricing. You can check with your power supplier to see if you can purchase green energy directly from them. The "green pricing" might mean a slight increase in your bills; learn more here.
Renewable energy certificates. You can purchase these either from a supplier or from a consumer-facing intermediary company. (For an example of the latter, Hero Power is a company in Illinois that offers wind power for owners of EVs and plug-in hybrids; they purchase RECs from a local wind farm.) You can learn more about renewable energy certificates/green certificates here, and search for certified green power options here.
We love these options, but a word of caution to do your homework before you sign any contract. See our tips in the “looking for more” section below.
If you own your home and live somewhere with decent sun, you might be a good candidate for getting solar panels. Use this calculator to estimate how much solar energy you could generate in a year. Installing solar panels can be an expensive investment, but many people who crunch the numbers find that financially they’ll come out ahead eventually. Lots of states offer incentives to help make it more affordable; to see what you might be eligible for, check this database. Also, some companies, like Grid Alternatives, offer no-cost solar for families with limited/fixed incomes. Learn more about going solar here, look for pre-screened solar installers here, and don't forget to get a few quotes to compare!
Why this action? Moving rapidly to clean power is critical for cutting emissions. Switching to wind and solar also improves human health. This is another area where we need our governments and companies to step up and lead (and that’s why we’ve been calling our representatives!!), but where individual actions also help, by reducing our personal emissions while driving demand for cleaner power. And research shows that in places like the US, buying green energy for your home can be a high-impact move. (Friends in Europe: see our "tips" below.)
Looking for more? Read on for tips and further related actions.
If you’re going to sign up for a renewable energy program, always look carefully at the program terms and the contract before you sign the contract. (The lawyer in Kaitlin insists.) For example, can you cancel at any time? What will you be paying each month? Are there any risks of price hikes?
If you’re thinking about community solar, this fact sheet (from the IL government) provides some suggestions of questions to ask to find the best fit for you.
If you’re thinking about going with an unregulated “alternative energy supplier,” this blog explains some of the risks (as well as the difference between ARES and community solar).
European readers: research indicates that, in some places in Europe, buying green energy might have less impact, because of problems with double-counting. That's not to say that you shouldn't try to get green energy, but we wanted to give you a heads up before you explore this option.
If you’ve found a renewables company that you love, how about sharing it with some local friends? Save them the research time!
If you’ve moved to renewables, now what? Electrify whatever you can! Moving from a gas stove to an induction stove, for example, can lower your emissions while also improving your health. (Speaking of gas stoves, read this to understand their negative health impacts, and don’t forget to vent if you’re using one!!)
If you own your place and have the cash, you could also install a solar water heater or an electric heat pump. (Heat pumps come with their own pros and cons, but research shows they can be effective in reducing emissions.)