A few months ago, I signed up for Reliant Energy's renewable energy plan. I pay about 3 dollars more per year, but all of my energy is guaranteed to come from wind power. For comparison, 85% of Reliant's normal plan comes from burning coal and natural gas. Check and see if your energy company has this kind of plan, and do the planet a favor.
I also did some number crunching today and though the results were interesting enough to share. In 'Saving Energy Without Derision', a book I've posted on before, the author presents a breakdown of the typical American household's energy use. He lists the average usage at about 10,600 kwh per year. At 15.4 cents per kwh (the average rate in TX right now), that costs the household 1,650 dollars per year. The proportions are summed up in this graph_
Two interesting notes_
- Indoor lighting takes up 15% of a household's energy, for an average total of 250 dollars. Compact fluorescent bulbs use up to 75% less energy. At 3 bucks a pop, they aren't as cheap, but with an energy savings of about 190 dollars per year, they'll more than pay for themselves very quickly. Now that Wal-Mart will be pushing these bulbs as part of a new environmentally-friendly strategy, prices are likely to drop even lower.
- 27% of household energy goes to air conditioning. This is probably significantly higher in Texas and lower in Minnesota, but it's a lot either way. Each degree you turn your thermostat up saves 3-5%, and each day you leave it off saves a whole heck of a lot more. So, using a programmable thermostat to raise your home's temperature 10 degrees while you're gone at work each day (8 hours) will save you 75 bucks a year.
By doing just those two things, you can cut your energy consumption by almost 15% per year. That's energy savings equivalent to nearly a ton of coal. By looking at that graph and then around your house, it should be pretty easy to identify some other areas that you can save money. The best part is that in addition to saving the environment, you'll also be saving yourself some cash. What's not to love?