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December 4, 2014

An Easy Way to Go Green this Winter.

starmanseries/Flickr

It’s getting colder here in New York.

Usually, my favorite way to save money on heating (thereby doing my bit for the environment) is to curl up in my thick, brown bamboo bathrobe that makes me look disturbingly similar to five-foot-two-inch teddy bear.

But, I just found out that there’s something else I can do.

In our environmentally conscious world, many of us want to do our part by using renewable energy (i.e., generating power from renewable sources like the sun, wind, geothermal and water instead of traditional sources like fossil fuels). However, technology and industry has not caught up with this shift in awareness, leaving well-meaning consumers to ask: How can I do my part?

One of the most innovative ways is through the use of RECs, or Renewable Energy Certificates.

What Are Renewable Energy Certificates?

In essence, a single Renewable Energy Certificate (also known as a Renewable Energy Credit, Green Tag or Tradable Renewable Certificate) is awarded per one mega watt-hour of “green” energy produced. These credits are sold (creating additional revenue), and can then be traded by the owner of the REC to help fund further renewable energy products and services.

What makes this system so beneficial is that the trading of these RECs allows states that may not have access to renewable energy sources to purchase environmental attributes from outside their home state. From this trading and purchasing cycle, “green” income is generated which can assist in the development of renewable energy programs that are closer to home.

How it Works on the Business Level.

An energy producer who opts to use renewable energy sources like water, wind, solar or geothermal to generate electricity adds energy that has been derived from more environmentally sound origins to the national electricity grid. Federal and state programs have chosen to “reward” these producers in the form of RECs.

Why the reward? Each REC represents the cost over and above the traditional use of fossil fuels that it takes to create green energy. Third party companies sell these RECs on behalf of the energy producers to businesses and individuals like you and me who want to do their part in supporting green energy use.

How it Works on the Personal Level.

When you flip a light switch, boot up your computer or turn on the television, you’re tapping into the national electricity grid. Traditionally, fossil fuels have been used to generate that electricity. Now, more energy producers are using renewable energy sources in some capacity to alleviate the strain on the environment caused by fossil fuel use. Energy that comes from the national grid flows in from power plants all over the country. That energy is compiled from renewable as well as non-renewable sources, pooled together in the grid, then sent out to your home, office and local businesses.

When you use electricity from the grid (along with all your neighbors and fellow Americans), that energy must be replaced back into the grid. About 98 percent of our energy comes from non-renewable sources. However, by choosing to purchase green energy, you are actually helping replace the tapped electricity with electricity generated by renewable sources.

In essence, you pay your utility company exactly the same way as you currently do to receive generic electricity. In addition, you pay the third party company a minimal amount that covers the cost of producing renewable energy. This will guarantee that the electricity you used is replaced into the national electricity grid, but with renewable sources of energy backing it up.

 

As you can see, you don’t need to be wealthy or technologically savvy to do your part for the environment.

Simply do a quick online search to learn about Renewable Energy Credits and how to find green energy companies in your area. It’s an easy way to make a healthy contribution to our national power grid while helping protect the environment at the same time.

In the meantime, you can get yourself one of those fetching teddy bear bathrobes. It’s a win-win, really.

 

 

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Author: Rachel Astarte

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: starmanseries/Flickr

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