What is renewable energy? Well, there are many different types - solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, geothermal energy, and biomass energy are a few. These types of energy sources are different from fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas in that they come from sources that are naturally replenishing, but flow-limited. Most of these renewable energies depend in one way or another on sunlight.
So why is renewable energy so important? For starters, renewable energy is cost effective. And, unlike fossil fuels, renewable sources of energy like hydropower, wind and solar do not directly emit greenhouse gases which have been tied to global warming by scientists. Another important reason is that renewable energy is “renewable” meaning it won’t deplete like fossil fuels.
There are many things we can do to as consumers to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or as is commonly referred to “reducing our carbon footprint”. And, taking advantage of renewable energy is easier than ever. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Walk or Bike
Whenever possible, walk or bike instead of drive. Ride your bike to work or the grocery store. If you live too far to bike to work, then form a carpool with other co-workers. If you’re feeling really up to the challenge – invest in a hybrid or plug-in electric car!
Plant a Tree
Did you know that trees can absorb up to 48 lbs. of carbon a year! Plant a new tree at your house or contact your local Keep America Beautiful chapter to see what greening programs they have and volunteer.
Invest in Solar
Solar panels are becoming less expensive and more widely available. In fact, some of the largest utility companies are now offering solar plans. You can save anywhere from $125 to $350+ per month on your electricity bill depending on the size of your home. That’s quite a savings! There are other small ways you can switch to solar; using solar battery chargers for your mobile phone, video games, cameras, etc., changing to a solar-powered water heater, and changing your outdoor landscape lights from electric to solar.
Doing just a few small things everyday as part of your normal routine can have a huge impact.
- Turn off lights and fans that you are not using.
- Replace any incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.
- Purchase appliances that bear the Energy Star label.
- Don’t set your thermostat too high or low, and install a programmable model to turn off the heat/air conditioning when you are not home – weather permitting of course!
- Eat locally produced and organic food
- Make reuse and recycle a practice in your home