Stephen Strathdee/istockphoto


In the past year we've showed you how easy it is to make your life greener in so many areas—your diet, your cleaning supplies, your clothing, your travel—but perhaps the single-biggest thing you can do in your life to lower your environmental impact is to sign up for green power. It also happens to be one of the simplest changes to make.

We've even outlined how to do this for you in a number of US cities. But in case you haven't already made the switch, here are the reasons in the most basic way we can put them:

US Carbon Emissions Are WAY Too High & Green Power Can Quickly Push Yours Down

Just look at the numbers for electricity generation and carbon footprint.

NOTE: I'll use US averages here, but know that there are some significant regional variations, with the West Coast and Northeast having much greener power and lower per capita carbon footprint than the Midwest, Southwest and Southeast. I'll also do a bit of rounding to simplify things.

The average US resident's carbon emissions are about 20 tons per year. With the exception of some oil-producing nations in the Mid-East, that's the highest in the world. About double the average in Europe and Japan, in fact.

And if we want to have a fighting chance of preventing catastrophic climate change those emissions have to be cut in half by 2020 and bring them down to about 4 tons by 2050.

Now, switching over to green power can make a huge dent in your emissions, all with a phone call-slash-email or two.

Based upon the average US electric mix and average stats for household electrical usage, signing up for a green power program can reduce your carbon emissions by about 7 tons per year.

For comparison sake, that's the same emission reductions in one year as: 1) Being vegetarian for seven years or vegan for three and a half; 2) driving a Prius instead of your gas-guzzler for about 34 months ; or 3) doing every single simple green step we tell you to do for the next 36 months.

But, It's Too Expensive = Nonsense

Yes, switching over to green power is going to raise you electric bill slightly—somewhere between 1 and 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. If you're the average US electric user (920 kWh per month), that works out to an additional bill of $110-220 per year.

I hate to bring out the admittedly worn out 'pennies a day' comparison, but it is apt. Switching over to [b]green power literally will cost you only 30-60

You can go a long way towards doing your part to prevent catastrophic global warming with the change left over from the cup of coffee you buy every morning.

Don't know where to start in your state? Check out the Department of Energy's Green Power Network page.

Got a tip or a post idea for us to write about on Planet Green? Email pgtips (at) treehugger (dot) com.