In today’s world, it’s more critical than ever to make conscious choices about the energy we use. As global warming becomes increasingly problematic, it’s essential to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and help slow the effects of climate change. The choices we make about electricity usage can impact the environment around us considerably.
One of the most significant decisions we can make to reduce our carbon footprint is choosing the right energy supplier. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why.
Renewable energy is energy that comes from naturally replenishing sources, such as sunlight, wind, and water. These sources are virtually inexhaustible and free from the greenhouse gasses associated with traditional energy sources like coal and gas.
In comparison, fossil fuels are non-renewable and have a significant carbon footprint. When these energy sources are burned, they emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful gasses. These greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming, which is causing environmental changes such as flooding, extreme temperatures and rising sea levels.
Fossil fuels have been our traditional energy source for a long time, but as we understand the impact they’re having on our planet, many people are now looking to make the switch to clean, green power. Let’s explore how you can do this.
As we’ve discussed, renewable energy sources are a great way to make a significant impact on the environment. However, many of us don’t have the ability to generate our own renewable energy at home. For those of us who rent, are looking to move home soon, or are on a budget, installing solar panels or a residential wind turbine is not always a viable option.
The alternative is to buy your energy from a renewable supplier. This company will generate some or all of their energy via renewable sources, rather than via fossil fuels. When you sign up with them, you should be able to see what percentage of their energy is green.
In Maryland, the energy market is deregulated, meaning that you can choose to vote with your money and buy green energy directly from the supplier. You can opt for completely renewable energy, or a percentage, and you should also be able to see if electricity has come from wind, solar or other renewables. Whilst there is no way to physically get pure renewable energy into your home, as it is managed via a grid supply, choosing a sustainable supplier increases the percentage of renewable energy in the overall supply.
As well as choosing a renewable electricity supply, consumers are able to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs). RECs are a way to purchase one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy, which is added to the power grid.
These certificates refer to specific units of power. You’ll know that you’ve bought a MWh of solar energy, from a specific solar farm, which is owned by a specific supplier. Whilst there’s no way of directly plugging your home into this specific unit, it means you, as the consumer, have greater control over who generated the renewable energy in the overall mix. As well as allowing buyers greater control, RECs can be a solution for people who are tied into a contract, and aren’t able to switch to a renewable energy supplier yet.
Another thing to consider when choosing your supplier is whether they offer a carbon offset scheme. Whilst these programs are often used by businesses, they can also be useful for individuals with a high carbon footprint.
Carbon offset programs allow you to pay a fee to offset the carbon dioxide emissions your lifestyle produces. The fee is used to fund projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in other sectors, such as buying renewable fuel stoves for developing countries. Carbon offset programs are a great way to make a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint.
Choosing the right energy supplier can significantly impact your carbon footprint. It’s important to understand how they are generating the power that they will put into the grid on your behalf, so that you can make a conscious decision. If we all support renewable energy, the world has the potential to be a much cleaner, greener place.
Blog written by Trevor Ashford, Consultant/Researcher, Digital Content and Media