If you’re the kind of person who cares about the planet and making eco-friendly choices in your daily life, you’re probably already ahead of the curve on reducing, reusing and recycling. Maybe you bought a fuel-efficient vehicle or cut back on your driving to further reduce your carbon footprint.
Is there anything else left that you can do to make a difference?
For many families and individuals, the next logical step could well be choosing renewable energy sources for your home or business.
What Are Renewables, Anyway?
You cannot deplete renewable energy sources by using them because they have the ability to recharge, or “renew” themselves. When people talk about renewables, they usually mean industries like solar, wind, hydroelectric power, and geothermal heating systems. These are just a few types of renewable energy.
These sources help create energy (usually electricity) without depleting natural resources. By contrast, traditional fossil fuels are not a renewable resource: A limited supply is available, and when it’s gone, there’s no way to replace it. Fossil fuels also tend to cause more environmental damage than their cleaner, renewable counterparts.
Ways to Use Renewables in Your Life
If you’re ready to switch to renewable energy sources but aren’t sure where to get started, try these ideas for your home and community:
- Use solar for the little things. Solar is a simple way to start using renewables. If you’ve ever used a solar-powered calculator, you’ve already started! Using a solar-powered charger for your electronics can make an even bigger impact on your electricity bill.
- Add solar panels to your home. If you live in a sunny region and have favorable roof positioning, adding solar panels to your roof can help you get to near 100 percent renewable energy in your home. To help defray the costs of installation, try applying for grants or working with a company that will pay you to rent your rooftop for their solar panels.
- Use a biomass stove for heat. Pellet stoves are inexpensive to operate and they heat your home by burning waste material — those pellets are made with sawdust, so you’re helping to recycle a waste material that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
- Switch to geothermal heat for your home. These heating systems are ultra-efficient because they rely on the earth beneath your feet to create heat for your home. They can be expensive to retrofit, but are often worth the investment in new construction.
- Harness the wind to get off the grid. Most people don’t live in an area zoned for a giant wind turbine, but you can build your own smaller windmill to create some of your own power. You can use them to aerate ponds or power an outbuilding for starters.
- Support local businesses that use wind and solar power. Even if you don’t have room on your property for your own solar or wind farm, you can make a statement by encouraging local businesses to invest in these renewables. This can particularly impact areas where some neighbors are opposed to building wind turbines or solar farms on local land.
- Research your electricity supply company. If you live in a state where deregulation allows you to choose your electricity supplier, shop around for a company that lets you to choose a 100 percent renewable energy plan. You can be on the lookout for the best price while making a choice that will help the planet. When more people choose these plans, energy companies will make bigger investments in renewable energies to meet increased demand.
Adding more renewable energy sources to your daily life will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. You can also take your environmental good deeds to the next level by decreasing the total amount of energy you use overall. Don’t forget the basics like turning out the lights when you leave the room, using smart power strips, and programming your thermostat to lower the heat at night or when you’re not at home.
The more people switch to greener energies, the greater the environmental impact. All of these small commitments will add up to big savings on your energy bills and significant benefits for a healthier planet.