saving energy with energysage part 7

Saving with EnergySage part 7: clean energy for your home

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This post is the seventh (!!) in our series about how to save on your energy bills even when you’re spending more time at home, as the entire EnergySage team is, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.) Continue to check our blog for more ideas for how you can take control of your energy bills in the coming weeks. 

It’s been a couple of weeks, but we haven’t forgotten about you: we’re still putting out tips and tricks for how to save money on your electricity bills while staying at home! Now that we’ve covered the basics of conserving energy at home–from understanding what’s on your electricity bill and what’s in your rate, to learning what uses the most power in your home and how to reduce that consumption–the next step is to explore ways to ensure that the electricity that you do use comes from a clean source. In this episode, yours truly covers ways to ensure your electricity comes from renewable, non-emitting sources. Enjoy! 

Step 1: Determine your current power mix 

The first step is to determine is what types of energy generation sources currently power your home. Most utilities provide a breakdown of the electricity sources that they use to meet the needs of all their customers (i.e., you and your neighbors). For instance, here’s the disclosure that my utility–National Grid–put out earlier this year for customers in their Massachusetts service territories.

You may be surprised by what you find! Nearly 40 states across the country have renewable energy targets or goals in place–commonly referred to as renewable portfolio standards (RPS)–meaning your utility may already procure a decent amount of renewable energy. In looking at the power flowing to my own house, nearly 20 percent already comes from renewable energy resources–hydropower, wind or solar. And states with clean energy targets are just getting started in their ramp-up to higher and higher levels of renewables. In fact, many states and utilities have already committed to 100 percent clean energy or renewable energy targets over the coming decades. 

power source matrix

Step 2: See if your utility offers rates for more renewable energy

If the amount of renewable energy currently powering your home is less than you’d like, the easiest option to change this is to check if your utility has an opt-up or opt-in rate for a higher level of renewable energy. Often, many utilities will offer “green rates” that are different from their default, “basic service” rate and allow you, the electricity user, to have more of a say in the attributes of the electricity you purchase. Typically, the rate you pay for more renewable energy will be higher than the basic service rate, but normally by only a few cents per kilowatt-hour, meaning you may be able to make the switch to clean energy for only a few dollars more per month.

Step 3: Explore other energy service options

Another option available in some areas are green energy. or municipal clean choice, rates. In many parts of the country, electricity markets are “deregulated”, meaning the company that the company you purchase electricity from does not have to be the same as the company that ultimately delivers that electricity to your home. Think of it as purchasing a product online: whoever the vendor you bought from is your energy supplier, and the US Postal Service is the company tasked with delivering that supply to you. 

Some municipalities have decided to do this on their own, leveraging their considerable buying power on behalf of their citizens to get better deals for cleaner power. Alternatively, if neither your utility nor your town have clean choice programs, you may be able to purchase a higher amount of renewable energy from a retail electricity supplier. Be careful, though: some of these companies don’t actually supply your home with cleaner electricity, but rather purchase the environmental attributes of wind power elsewhere in the country to offset the emissions/electricity that your home uses. Make sure to read up on the plan you choose to better understand where your clean energy will come from.

Step 4: Consider solar

The best way to ensure your electricity comes from a local, clean source is to consider solar. Whether you participate in a community solar program to purchase solar energy from a nearby solar farm, or whether you have the space to put solar panels on your own roof or property, going solar is the best way to be positive that your electricity is coming from a renewable source.

The best part? Solar can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the next twenty to thirty years. To see how much solar can save you, check out EnergySage’s Solar Calculator. And to receive customized solar quotes for your home, register for a free account on the EnergySage Marketplace today. 

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About Spencer Fields

Spencer is the Manager of Market Strategy & Intelligence at EnergySage, where he writes about all things energy. Prior to joining EnergySage, he spent five years at Synapse Energy Economics, providing environmental, economic and policy analysis for public interest groups. Spencer has degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from Brown University, meaning when he's not in the office you can find him outside or traveling somewhere to work on his Spanish.

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