Another impactful way to live more sustainably is to use renewable energy to power your home. Renewable or clean energy is defined as energy that comes from natural processes like the sun (solar), water (geothermal and hydroelectric), wind, and biomass (biofuels). Because these resources are constantly being replenished, they’re considered “renewable.”
As renewable energy has become more common through technological advances and the proliferation of renewable energy companies, there are myriad options for you to choose from to move away from coal and natural gas. And some of them are quite a bit easier to implement than you may have expected…
Renewable Energy Through Your Existing Utility Company
Many utility companies now partner with renewable energy companies to offer a clean energy option to their customers. With these arrangements, the utility either generates renewable itself or buys renewable energy certificates (see below) from clean energy providers.
After you sign up for such a program through your utility company, you simply pay your utility bill as you normally would. There’s typically a small surcharge associated with accessing renewables, roughly 1 to 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh).
Not all utilities offer this option and clean energy programs go by different names, so contact your local utility company or get online to see what they can provide.
Renewable Energy Through Third-Party Sources
With renewable energy certificates (REC), you first choose a third-party renewable energy provider. The provider then works with your utility company, which purchases REC equivalent to your energy use.
Another external renewable energy option is to obtain your power through community solar via an independent solar farm. You receive power energy through the solar plant, but your utility company remains responsible for tracking and distributing electricity bill credits. Check out Energy Sage’s Community Solar Marketplace to learn more and locate community solar near you.
Home Solar Systems
If you want to control your renewable energy and be able to potentially sell excess energy to make a profit, a home solar system is right for you. You can either purchase panels or lease them from a solar provider, and there may be additional federal, state or local tax incentives that you can receive for installing them. Several factors will need to be considered if you go this route, so consult the U.S. Department of Energy’s website for more information.