Take 10 Minutes to Switch Your Home to Renewable Energy

A question we get fairly often from you, the lovely people of Western Pennsylvania is: Can I switch my electricity provider to something greener?  Why yes, yes you can.  And as this is one the easiest ways (it takes less than 10 minutes) to reduce your environmental impact, we want to make sure everyone knows how to do this.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pcardo/36689672010/

Photo: Pasquale Paolo Cardo

And now, the (super) easy 10 minute tutorial. We’re counting seconds here.

1) To switch power for your home, start the process by visiting PAPowerSwitch.com (if you are switching your company’s energy, navigate to the small business or large business).

  • Enter your zip code–this will determine your potential suppliers based on your local distributor*
  • Enter your average monthly usage (you can just leave this as the default)
  • Scroll down to Special Programs, and check how you’d like to sort your suppliers – if you select PA Wind or Renewable PA AND Renewable Energy, you will only see local suppliers. To see non-local (usually cheaper) renewable options, just select Renewable Energy. 

*Your electricity is the combination of two organizations efforts: the distributor who manages the lines and cables, i.e. Duquesne Light, and the supplier who actually generates the electricity by burning gas, coal, or through wind and solar capture

2) After choosing those options, you’ll navigate to a screen where you will select your Distributor (e.g. West Penn Power or Duquesne Light)

3) Your screen will now ask for your rate schedule.  The vast majority of us are RS – Regular Residential Service, but you can always look at your bill to check

4) Now you are presented with your options for sourcing your electricity from renewable energy in Pennsylvania.  A few things to note:

  • The price at the top (in orange) is your approximate monthly payments if you are using your distributor’s default supplier
  • The other prices – also in orange–are your estimated monthly bills if you switch to that supplier, based upon the average electric bill you entered
  • Fixed vs. Variable Price structure: Fixed prices allow you to accurately approximate your monthly bill. Variable prices can take advantage of slight discounts, but can be a large gamble.
  • Percent renewable energy: this can vary between supplier from 5% to 100%. If you are looking to reduce the amount you are contributing to global warming – choosing 100% is your best option.

5) After choosing your supplier, simply click “Make the Switch” and follow the directions on your new supplier’s site.

If you’re wondering the real impact of your choice, consider this. A rough estimate using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalences Calculator shows that if you use 700 kWh of electricity per month with a normal energy mix, you are responsible for 6 metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. Renewable energy produces no CO2 during generation, so if even ¼ of Pittsburgh residents switch to renewable power, we could greatly reduce the ½ million metric tons of CO2 attributed to Pittsburgh households’ electricity use (based on the 2015 GHG inventory). And choosing renewables costs NO MORE than your regular monthly payments. No, that’s not a typo. Depending on your provider, your monthly bill can remain the same. If you choose only local renewables, you will notice that the prices are a bit higher. There are many arguments why its important to support Pennsylvania’s renewable energy industry, but we’ll save that for another time.

In the flurry of federal legislation, your loudest vote is often where you spend your money.  Choose an electricity supplier whose investments you support, and if you would like to reduce your impact further, we (and CCI – who has energy savings tips in their newsletter) can definitely help with all kinds of energy saving tips.

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