October is Energy Awareness Month and there are plenty of ways you can celebrate. Once you understand how your behavior impacts the environment, you can explore ways to make a positive change.
How to evaluate your energy impact.
You may be wondering how your current energy behavior impacts the environment. A helpful tool we’ve found is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.1 It converts your energy data into emissions data you can understand in everyday terms – and then helps you consider how switching to renewable energy positively impacts the environment.
To figure out the impact of your household energy use in terms of greenhouse gas emissions:
- Look up your monthly energy usage on your latest bill.
- Find the kilowatt-hours (kWh) and multiply it by 12 to estimate your annual impact.
- In Step 1 of the calculator, select Energy data as the energy to convert, and insert your annual amount as Kilowatt-hours used.
You’ll see your results in Step 2 of the calculator to consider the impact you’re having on the environment by using fossil fuel – in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide emissions.
To see the impact you could have if you used clean energy, enter your annual energy amount in the Kilowatt-hours avoided field. For our example, Step 2 shows that switching to a renewable energy source avoids greenhouse emissions equivalent to recycling 2.9 tons of waste rather than landfilling it – and sequestering the amount of carbon from 141 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
These estimates help us see how our individual energy use impacts our environment in significant ways – and how the energy choices we make can have positive effects on the planet’s future.
Consider signing up for community solar.
Community solar is an easy way to support renewable energy. There are no startup costs or hardware to install because the energy is produced at an off-site solar array and flows to your local utility grid. You continue to use your same utility, but receive solar credits that actually reduce your utility bill. This means you save on your energy costs – plus, you’re supporting clean, solar energy!
If you have more questions about how community solar works, check out our Essential Guide to Community Solar. You’ll find it addresses most of the common questions you may have. Then sign up for a community solar project near you. If there are no projects near you, you can sign up for our waitlist and we’ll notify you when a project becomes available.
Find other ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
If community solar isn’t an option for you at this point, there are plenty of other ways to reduce your energy use.
- Our blog, Tips for Making Your Home More Energy Efficient, provides 20 tips to reduce your household carbon footprint.
- Biking, walking, carpooling, or using public transportation are all great ways to reduce greenhouse gases if an electric vehicle or hybrid isn’t an option.
- Purchasing reusable items such as metal straws and water bottles helps reduce plastic waste.
- Buying local and shopping at consignment stores are even more ways to shrink your carbon footprint.
When you’re conscious of how your actions have a great impact, you can start to make changes to your behavior or routines that have a positive impact on the environment.
At Nelnet Renewable Energy, we celebrate awareness of energy use and individual behavior change. By working together, we can create a healthier, more resilient planet for tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us!