Idea #5: Get solar power from your utility company

For those of us who rent or who don’t have ten thousand dollars lying around, installing solar panels at home may not be realistic.

However, you may be surprised to learn that many electric utility companies offer solar power options. One way to do this is to sign up with a renewable energy supplier such as CleanChoice Energy. The energy supplier will coordinate with your local utility company to ensure that for every kilowatt-hour of energy you use, an equivalent amount of power is purchased from a nearby renewable power plant. Of course, the individual electrons that power your refrigerator won’t all have come from solar panels, since everything gets mixed together in the grid. Nonetheless, this choice makes a difference, because now the money you pay on your electricity bill invests in solar power plants rather than coal.

Because of the dependence on local utility companies, CleanChoice Energy isn’t available everywhere. Instead, some utility companies offer solar power options directly to their customers. Georgia Power offers a Simple Solar option that charges one extra cent per kilowatt-hour and uses the money to fund solar power installations. They also offer a heftier Community Solar option.

All of this corporate name-dropping probably sounds like a sponsored ad, but I’m just trying to give concrete examples from places where I happen to have lived. Check with your local utility provider about options that are applicable to you. Renewable energy sources are getting cheaper every day, and it’s a one-time fix: once you’ve checked the proper boxes, you never have to think about it again!

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