It’s important to me that my family is doing what it can to live a little greener …without going weird or drastically changing our lifestyles. Or, let’s be honest, wthout spending a ton more money!
I Want Renewable Energy!
So, when it came to the electricity we used I figured there had to be a greener way. There is always a greener way, it all just depends on how much you want to change the way you live…and how much money you want to spend. 🙂
I convinced my husband to let me explore the world of solar (Check out my post, “Can We Go Solar?“). I figured that was the way to go if we wanted to go with clean, green, renewable energy. Plus, how cool would our house look with solar panels on the roof?!! We’d be our own mini power plant!
It turned out we have a shady roof that wouldn’t allow us to be the power generating machine I’d hoped we’d be. And, there was going to be a lot of work, installation, money, unknown resale issues, etc.
Plus, my husband was totally turned off by the way the solar panels looked. In fact, I think “ugly” was the word he used!
Opposites attract, right?! 🙂
Anyway, I got wind (no pun intended!) of the option to change our energy supplier which would allow us to choose one that included renewable energy! Woo hoo! 🙂
I did a little research and after learning more about how electricity is produced and about our choices we’ve been able to make the switch.
Non-Renewable vs. Renewable Energy?
Electricity is mostly produced using the same basic process. (Check out, “Why You Need to Know How Electricity is Produced.”) A resource is used to get the blades of a large turbine spinning. Inside the turbine, a large magnet rotates which electrifies the wire inside the turbine. That electricity is then sent out across power lines to homes and businesses.
While the process of producing electricity is mostly the same, the resources used to get the turbine spinning can differ.
There are sources that are non-renewable and sources that are renewable.
Non-renewable sources are are available in a limited supply and are irreplaceable or that take a long time (like not in our lifetime!) for the Earth to replace. Using non-renewable resources over time puts a big strain on the planet.
In addition to depleting the Earth’s resources, for example, burning coal releases toxins into the air that cause air pollution and can pose health hazards.
Renewable resources like biomass, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are natural resources that can or will be replenished naturally in the course of time – in our lifetime.
In addition, energy sources like wind and solar are “clean”. When they are used to produce electricity they don’t release any toxins or harmful gases into the air.
How Is My Electricity Produced Using a Renewable Source?
I have to admit this is the part that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. Bear with me as I try to explain.
All of the electricity produced by power plants (renewable or not) around the country is transferred to the “grid”. All that energy is then moved around to towns and neighborhoods and cities that use that power.
What’s important (and confusing) to note here is that no matter what resource is used to generate the electricity, it’s all the same once it’s produced. So all the electricity transferred to the grid is the same.
The electricity produced by wind isn’t different from the electricity produced by burning coal or the electricity produced from a hyrdo plant that uses water to spin the turbine.
Nothing makes the electrons “green”! 🙂
So how do I know the energy I’m using was produced by wind only?
Well, you don’t know and it probably wasn’t!
Huh?! Then what’s the point of choosing a supplier and choosing a renewable energy plan?
That’s where Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) come in!
What Are RECs and How do They Work?
I could (attempt to) go into a lengthy, detailed discussion about RECs including all the in’s and out’s of how they work, how they are sold, bought, retired, etc…but I’m not going to! 🙂
Instead, I’ll just give ya the high level, need-to-know basics!
A renewable energy credit (REC) is essentially a certificate that renewable energy producers (i.e. a wind farm) create, and sell to suppliers, to help fund additional green energy projects.
By choosing a plan that includes a portion or 100% renewable energy, you are helping to support those suppliers and contributing to a greener, cleaner future.
Isn’t Switching Alot of Work?
No! One of the great things about switching energy suppliers – renewable or non-renewable – is that it’s seamless – and easy!
Once you choose your supplier and go through a super simple sign up process you are all set and you’re done!
You don’t need any new equipment. No new meter. No new wiring. Nada!
You don’t even get a new bill!
The ONLY thing that’s different is that the SUPPLY portion of your bill, which by the way still comes from your local energy distributor, details charges from your new supplier.
You don’t even have to make two payments! You pay your bill to your local distributor and they handle the rest with your energy supplier.
That’s so easy even I can handle it! 🙂
Isn’t Renewable Energy Really Expensive?
I do think there is a misconception that “green” energy is way more expensive than what you have probably been paying for many years for non-renewable energy.
I also think many people don’t realize that they can choose their supplier. You can decide what’s best for your family in terms of price and go out and shop for it.
You can also decide what’s important to you and your values. If contributing to the health of the planet and it’s future for generations to come is important, you can support the efforts of clean, renewable energy producers by signing up to have a portion of your supply come from a renewable producer.
According to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the price of renewable energy is falling and such a rapid pace that it could consistently become cheaper than generating electricity using traditional methods of burning fossil fuels (i.e. coal burning).
You can read the full article that appeared in Forbes in January 2018, “Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels By 2020, Report Claims.”
So, to answer the question about cost – no, it’s not way more expensive than non-renewable energy – especially when you find the right supplier.
How Do I Choose a Renewable Energy Supplier?
Once you’ve determined that you can choose your supplier, it’s time to shop!
Visit the American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers
website to find out if you can choose in your state!
Now it’s time to shop around for renewable energy suppliers and get rates. Your state website may provide a list of energy suppliers that offer renewable energy plans.
Or your neighbors may be a source of information. Maybe they’ve already switched to a renewable energy supplier!
Another option is to work with me!
I’m super excited to be working with a local company, Electric Advisors, as a new consultant for residential renewable energy!
Since 2006, Electric Advisors has been helping commercial clients take advantage of energy choice to help their organization’s bottom-line.
They are committed to promoting renewable energy and helping clients find a plan that works for them.
I’m so excited to be working with them as a residential energy consultant!
I can help you make the switch to renewable energy for your home by finding a plan and a price that work for you!
Please get in touch! I’d love to help you!