Rooftop solar panels are the best source of renewable energy. Apart from their manufacture, the panels are nonpolluting. As important, they remove energy production from the hands of a few wealthy investors and place it in our hands.
There are situations where rooftop solar panels are not practical. Places with lots of trees, and multifamily apartment buildings both pose challenges. Large trees surround my house. This keeps my home cool in summer without supplemental cooling, but it makes rooftop solar panels ineffective. I will eventually create an on-the-ground panel array, but until that becomes possible, there is an alternative.
This morning (July 28, 2015), with one phone call, I switched my four electric utility accounts (two residential, two commercial) to 100% clean energy from renewable sources. The option to switch was available from my electricity supplier and from several other companies. The renewable energy types are a mix, but wind and solar are the largest. Beginning August 1, my energy bills will increase by 1.02 cents per kWh.
- No installation costs,
- no rooftop collectors
- no storage batteries
- Just 100% clean energy.
How it Works
My utility company will increase its purchases of renewable energy by an amount equaling my monthly usage.
Who Can Switch?
Clean-energy programs are available in the U. S. and Canada. They might be available in other countries, but I do not have information for those. Any U.S. homeowner, renter, or business that pays for electricity can switch. Utility companies will charge 1 to 2 cents per kWh to switch you to clean energy. An independent company, the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), verifies electricity sources and certifies the providers through the Green-e Program.
- Click here to find providers and their charges in your state.
- Check the certification of the providers here.
What are the Benefits and Costs of Switching to Clean Electricity?
- More money goes into renewable energy production
- CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions decline
- air quality improves
- ocean acidification slows
- the rate of global warming slows.
Cost: The average electricity usage for U. S. homes is 900 kWh per month. This means that when someone switches to renewable electricity sources, their utility bill will increase between $9.00 and $18.00 per month, $108 and $216 per year.
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, there are about 123 million households and 31 million businesses (most are quite small and use no more electricity than an average household) in the United States. If all households and businesses shifted to clean energy, the total increase in their utility bills would be between $17 billion and $33 billion per year. That’s less than one percent of the $3.8 trillion U. S. budget. I am not saying that the U. S. Federal Government should pay for the switch, but why not offer an incentive program that rebates the additional cost as a tax credit? The program wouldn’t have to be permanent. It would draw attention to the opportunity to switch, and help get the ball rolling.
The Future: Challenges and Opportunities
Energy from gas and oil is used for most space heating and transportation. However, the proportion of heating with electricity has increased rapidly due to the increased efficiency of heat pumps. It now amounts to 40% of the total. Likewise, the proportion of transportation powered by electricity is increasing. Storage batteries are becoming more efficient and electric automobiles are gaining in popularity.
Switching to renewable electricity sources is a huge opportunity. Only about 2% of electricity generated in the U. S. comes from renewable sources (sunlight and wind). Now that certified sources are available and making the switch is not difficult, the amount of electricity from renewable sources could rise quickly.
Make the Switch Now
- Choose your local clean-energy provider here and see if they are certified here. It might be the same company as your utility company, but another company authorized for your area might charge less. Find your chosen company’s phone number.
- Find your electric utility account number.
- Call your chosen clean-energy provider and ask them to switch your account. I haven’t checked with all the companies to see what information in addition to your utility account number might be required. For me, that was all I needed.