Earth Day All Month: Energy Efficiency

Last year we installed a brand new Cogenera solar installation.  This type of installation is a combined system that harnesses energy from the sun to produce both hot water and electricity that we use in our wineries.  We have seen incredible success over the past year and are currently looking to add additional systems to other facilities.

Have you taken any steps at home to increase energy efficiency and save a few dollars on soaring energy costs? Most people don’t have the space or money to install their own photovoltaic panels or wind turbines at home.  And if you rent you definitely do not have any say over where your power comes from.  However, there are always ways to reduce your environmental footprint while making sure that you are using renewable energy at home.  Take a look at some of our ideas below!

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Take a page out of our playbook and purchase Renewable Energy Certificates to offset your home energy use with clean, renewable energy.  RECs are the currency of renewable energy –  and not all utilities offer a Green Power Purchase Program, and if you rent and your landlord manages the energy bill, this option is a great alternative.  You still pay for electricity as you normally do through your local utility provider.  Next, simply go online and purchase RECs for the amount of power you use in a typical year.  The money you pay for the REC then goes directly to support the advancement of renewable energy sources.  Often times you can pick and see exactly which projects you are funding.

Purchasing RECs, coupled with federal and state incentives, have helped drive renewable energy infrastructure and adoption forward.  This in turn has helped to reduce the cost of renewable energy by building the economies of scale necessary to make alternative energy options more affordable.  Because of these efforts, energy costs have decrease so much in certain parts of the country that it now costs the same or even less that conventional forms of electricity derived from coal and natural gas.

In just a few years, the cost should be low enough that all utilities will choose to purchase it, not because it is the sustainable thing to do, but because it is the best business decision.

Purchase Green Power From Your Utility Company

If RECs don’t seem like a good option for you, check and see if your local utility company offeres a Green Power Purchasing option.  Many utilities offer a “Green Power Purchase Program” where you can sign up to pay a slightly higher rate in order to ensure that your electricity is coming from renewable energy sources.  This also enables the utility company to buy more renewable energy then they would typically do because of the higher premium.  It is impossible to know exactly where any particular electron goes once it enters the transmission system, so there’s no guarantee that the electricity illuminating your light bulbs comes from renewable sources, but you are directly funding the installation of new renewable installations.