With renewables and energy efficiency, consumers can now play a greater role in how we use and produce energy in this country. Here are three ways to get informed and take action. (And you can discover many other opportunities to make sustainable food, water and energy choices on our Take Action homepage.)
Three Things Consumers Can Do
Energy efficiency, according to the US EPA, "refers to products or systems using less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems." Consumers can take advantage of many efficient products like Energy Star-rated washers and dryers, programmable thermostats to optimally heat and cool your home and vehicles with excellent fuel economy. Energy efficiency is an important resource and can help meet the country's growing demand for energy just as well as any other source in the overall energy portfolio. It is the fastest, cleanest and most economical energy resource we have.
Also important to know, an energy efficiency audit is a critical first step to installing any renewable energy source. Implementing energy efficiency measures in advance of installing a renewable system can save you money by reducing your overall energy or water consumption and subsequently reducing the size of the system you'll need to meet your energy needs.
- GRACE's Energy Efficiency page
- U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Saver
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: Consumer Resources
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Consumer Fact Sheet
- Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles page
- Buy Energy Star products
- Check out your vehicle's performance in miles per gallon at www.fueleconomy.gov
- Get a home energy audit
Since you cannot completely eliminate your energy demand, you should consider ways to meet your energy needs through clean, renewable energy technologies. Renewable energy can be a valuable counterpart to energy efficiency and conservation (as noted above). Several states now allow clean energy options available to electric utility customers that allow you to pick where your electricity comes from and what fuel sources are used for generating that energy. In addition, most states now have net metering G available, so you can generate clean energy on-site, e.g. roof or backyard. Going renewable – and implementing energy efficiency measures – are critical ways that consumers can be more involved in energy decisions.
- GRACE Energy Program homepage
- Interstate Renewable Energy Council
- U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Energy home
- EDF's Energy Innovation Series and Video
- Find out what incentives are available for you to use clean energy at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).
- See how well your state is doing to help you connect renewable energy to the grid at the Freeing the Grid website.
- Check out your electricity mix. The Power Profiler determines your power grid region based on your ZIP code and electric utility; compares the fuel mix and air emissions rates of the electricity in your region to the national average; determines the air emissions impacts of electricity use in your home or business.
- Use the EPA's Green Power Locator to find information about green power options available to you in your state.
- Use Find Solar to get the information you'll need when researching about how to use solar energy at home.
A number of groups are working to bring renewable energy into the mainstream. Find out more about their work as they help usher in the clean energy economy.
- Vote Solar
- Solar Electric Industries Association
- American Solar Energy Society
- American Wind Energy Association
- Sign up for Vote Solar's alerts about big news, local events, or an opportunity to weigh in on a critical solar issue.
- Follow SEIA on twitter.
- Subscribe to Solar Today the award-winning magazine published by the American Solar Energy Society to stay up-to-date on the latest solar technology, policy advances and analysis.