This is the third article in a four-part series on how to green your electricity. We will give you practical tips to help improve your environmental footprint, as well as your monthly energy bills. Your house might even become more comfortable in the process.
Two weeks ago, we talked about the importance of doing an energy audit. Then, last week, we had a general look at some of the ways to reduce your electricity use, from big costly investments to small inexpensive changes.
Today, we're going to go straight to the root of the problem: where the electricity you use comes from. Green designer Ted Owens made a video about the construction of off-grid, 100 percent sun-powered house. In the video, he remarks that it made him feel quite good to realize that since all his electricity came from the sun, as long as he was producing more than he was using, he could leave his computer or television turned on all the time without negative consequences to nature (not necessarily that he did that, but he could have).
It might seem obvious when we think about it, but it's actually an important lesson that using electricity isn't bad in itself. It is the negative side effects of production that we must reduce as much as possible.
Because, for a multitude of reasons (including the fact that demand for clean energy is higher than supply), clean electricity is still more expensive than the dirty kind. How much more will depend on where you live; the difference is generally not enormous, but enough that it makes financial sense to try to offset it by first reducing your electricity use.
So how does it work?
You could try to produce clean electricity yourself, but that's more complex (we'll have a look at it next week).
The simplest way is to find out if where you live (this varies by country, state, and city) you can switch to "green power," either as a different service of your current utility company, or by switching to another utility. Sometimes it's as simple as a phone call or filling a short form.
By switching to clean power at the utility level, you stop sending your money to dirty power plants and instead send it to clean ones. This means that, for example, if 20 percent of a utility's customers switch to green power, the clean power plants will now produce enough electricity to meet demand from these people, and the dirty power plants will see reduced demand by that same amount. Because of the way the grid is interconnected, the cleanly produced electrons might not go directly to your house, but the result is the same for the environment and that's what really matters.
So call your utility today and ask them for information about switching to green power. You can also search on the internet for "Green power," plus the name of the city where you live.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate