Over time, we’ve become conditioned to receive a power bill, get annoyed that it’s too high, pay it begrudgingly, and repeat the cycle the next month. To make matters worse, very little—if any—of what we're paying goes toward alternative energy sources. Overall, wind and solar account for only about 7 percent of U.S. electricity mix.
This is due in large part to the fact that a lot of people don't realize that switching over to renewables is an option for them. As the president of a solar energy company, I've noticed many people mistakenly think the only way to bring clean energy into their homes is by installing rooftop solar panels. While that's a great option for homeowners who have the financial means, roof capacity, and natural surroundings to do so, about 80 percent of the population doesn't fall into that category.
Thankfully, this is an exciting time for the energy industry, and more clean energy choices exist than ever before. Here are a few sustainable ways to reduce and reframe your energy use:
1. Join a community solar farm.
We already share so many things, so why leave out energy? Community solar projects allow individuals and businesses to subscribe to shares of a remote solar farm without having to install anything on their property. This multi-home approach helps to build, finance, and maintain new solar projects and opens the solar market to any renter or homeowner that doesn't have a suitable roof. In return, they will see savings on their energy bill over time. While some states such as Massachusetts have a more mature community solar market with readily available projects, most don’t yet.
At Arcadia Power we are using our energy platform to bring this access to people in all 50 states. So if you live in Wyoming, in a few minutes you can subscribe to one of our community solar farms in Maine and save on your energy bill.
2. Demand response.
Demand response programs are still constrained to certain energy markets such as California, but they're worth noting as they are on the path to expansion. "Demand response" is when the end electricity user (you) reduces their electricity consumption during peak times during the day and gets financially rewarded for doing so. This can dramatically reduce your bill amount, and it helps reduce the need for polluting and inefficient backup generation too.
3. Look into green energy programs.
While you cannot bypass your utility to beam electrons from a wind farm directly into your apartment, it is possible to incorporate alternative energy into your current power plan. Many utilities are beginning to offer programs that match monthly consumption with an equal amount of renewable energy credits. These credits can go toward funding a renewable energy project like a nearby wind or solar farm.
4. Cut down on your energy bill altogether with efficient products.
While switching over to renewable energy is an amazing way to lessen your impact on the planet, so is cutting down on your electricity use altogether. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to install LED light bulbs throughout your home. They are 25 times more efficient, and they usually last longer too, so the few extra dollars per bulb has an incredible return on investment. A few other affordable, often overlooked products that can reduce your energy bill include smart thermostats, smart strip surge protectors, and air filters. All three of these continue to be driven down in cost and improved in quality.
Speaking of home retrofits, here are the nontoxic home products that are worth splurging on versus the ones you can find for cheap.