Juniata College's Raystown Field Station
© Juniata College. Used by permission.

Energy from the sun helps power Juniata College's Raystown Field Station.

Renewable energy: purchasing or installing renewable energy

So why switch to renewable energy? Years ago, renewable energy was difficult and expensive to install, but now almost anyone can make the switch. In fact, it is increasingly simple to purchase renewable energy. In many places it is cost-neutral and in some localities switching to renewables can actually lower your power bill.

But aside from your household budget, there is another cost to using fossil fuels, and it is often paid by those who can least afford it. Simply put, pollution kills people. This holds especially true for very young, very old, and very poor people. Tens of thousands of Americans die prematurely each year from respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease due to air pollution. Globally, the premature deaths number in the millions. The good news is that we can reduce these effects by switching to renewable energy.

There are at least three ways to acquire renewable energy:

  1. The easiest, if it is available, is through your electric power provider. Sometimes your current power provider will have a "green" energy option, or in some states, you can choose your power provider due to deregulation. The cost may be the same, slightly higher, or lower than the conventional mix. A good place to look is the website of your power provider.

    Find out if your state’s energy market is deregulated (giving you more opportunities to purchase green power).

  2. The option open to everyone is purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). If you can’t buy green power directly, you can still purchase energy from your power provider and RECs from a separate provider. The effect is the same as buying renewable energy directly. This is always more expensive, but you can choose to match the amount of electricity you use or purchase less. The cost may be as little as $10/month above your normal bill.

    How RECs work

    Green-e is a trusted REC certification company, and provides a list of certified suppliers.

  3. Install your own renewable energy, such as solar or wind. Be sure to consider alternatives that may better suit your region, such as solar hot water, high-efficiency wood stoves, or passive solar design.

Detailed information on green energy - both purchasing and installation.