Ethical Energy Providers

If you are making a concerted effort to be ethical with your finances, it makes sense to do the same in other areas too.  One area that you will almost definitely want to look at is your energy provider.  Traditional energy sources can have a devastating impact on the environment but thanks to a growth in ethical energy methods, you can help the environment by choosing an energy company who use green energy sources.

Why Green Energy?

Most energy sources are not ethical and can do significant damage to the environment.  For example, burning coal emits a range of pollutants into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  This has an impact on everything from vegetation to the air that we breathe.  Oil is much the same as coal in terms of polluting the environment. Natural gas is a marginally better alternative as it does not pollute on the same scale as gas and oil but as a fossil fuel, it is still responsible for dangerous emissions. Nuclear power is not a culprit for climate change and global warming but its emissions contain radioactive waste that can cause extensive damage for many years afterwards.

What Counts as Green Energy?

Green energy includes solar power, wind power, low -impact hydroelectric power and geothermal power.

Finding an Ethical Energy Provider

In the US, most of our energy comes from fossil fuels such as coal, which is known to have a negative impact on the environment.  Depending on where you live, you may not be in a good position to use green energy methods in your own home but you can still adopt a more ethical approach to your energy consumption by choosing a greener energy provider.

‘Green’ power. This usually involves paying a bit extra for your energy in return for ensuring that your energy comes from an ethical source.  It is by no means a money saving option but it is an important way to make sure that you are being more green with your energy consumption.  Your current energy provider may offer a green option so it is worth consulting them first if you are otherwise happy with their service. If they do not offer green power, you will need to look at switching to a different energy provider.  The US Department of Energy has a list of green utility providers.

While it is becoming much more popular, there may be some areas in which green power is not yet available. Want to find out more about green energy options in your area? You can search by state through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  For Canada, you can find out more about green power in your province through the Pollution Probe website.  The US Department of Energy has a list of green utility programs available in each state.

Cutting Your Energy Consumption

Alongside finding an ethical energy provider, you can also do your bit for the environment by cutting back on your energy consumption so that you are not using so much in the first place. There are a number of ways that you can do this in your everyday life and in many cases, it has the added bonus of saving money too.  Some of the energy saving steps that you can take include:

  • Turning down the thermostat on your water heater
  • Turning down the temperature slightly on your refrigerator
  • Unplugging electrical appliances instead of turning them off and leaving them on standby mode
  • Only using the dishwasher and washing machine if you are going to be putting on a full load
  • Leaving clothes to dry naturally where possible rather than using a tumble dryer
  • Plugging cracks in walls to stop energy escaping and sealing areas where draughts may occur
  • Insulating your attic so that less heat can escape through the roof
  • Installing low-flow showerheads to reduce the amount of water that needs to be heated for your shower
  • Insulating your windows so that less heat can be lost this way

Adopting a green approach to your energy usage is an ideal complement to things like ethical investing. After all, you care about ensuring that your money is not being used in an unethical manner so why not make sure that you are doing your bit to help the environment?

So, what kind of energy do you use? Is it eco-friendly?


Ethical Energy Providers — 9 Comments

  1. When we lived in Minnesota–where coal is still king with respect to power generation–we signed up with our utility to pay a bit more but designate that a percentage of our power was to come from wind generation. The more people signed up, the more wind generation capacity the utility had to build. Of course it should be the other way around–burning coal will prove far, far more expensive than wind and other renewables in the long run. But we humans seem, overall, decidedly short-sighted, and make decisions mostly on how does it affect my pocketbook today! 🙂

  2. Depending on where you live, a portion of your energy probably already comes from renewables, and that percentage will likely increase. Nearly every state has legislated that energy providers must have a certain percentage of the power that they put on the grid come from renewables, and many states have a “20% by 2020” goal. Some states are even higher: Maine, for instance, already requires suppliers to be above 30%. Of course, the way the states measure this percentage is a little tricky, but I don’t necessarily want to get into that here.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how much renewable energy it has been legislated that your state will get, google whatever state you’re in, and then type the letters RPS (which stands for renewable portfolio standard). Some states have different acronyms, but I’d say RPS is used 80-90% of the time.

    This information is in no way meant to undercut what Ms. T has written above; I think it’s a great idea to purchase a higher mix of green energy if that is important to you.

    • Thanks for the resource.

      I think that is a great starting point what legislation has done in the US but it isn’t going to be enough. 20% will only go so far in making a positive environmental impact. We really need to flip those numbers where only 20% comes from non renewable sources.

  3. I have a friend who works for a wind turbine company. I’m not convinced that wind is very green given how repair prone those turbines are (that’s his job, to fix them when they break). I do live in an area with a lot of turbines and after he told me that, I did notice that many of the turbines I drive by aren’t even running. All energy sources do have a cost on the environment and I think the best route is conservation.

    I LOVE that demand for fossil fuels is going down in the US. That to me has been the biggest marker of success, not how many wind turbines or solar panels have gone up. Unless there is a disruptive technology that resolves the battery storage issues I don’t see how those technologies can be sustainable without continued government subsidies. I’m hopeful that all the money pouring into those industries will result in a breakthrough in the battery technology. Fingers crossed.

    • We are on the same page. Conservation and sustainable living practices are huge and would have the biggest impact. I don’t think using renewable sources though is all for loss. Yes there are not 100% percent green which sucks but they are better than what many of us are using now.

      I am also hoping for some major breakthroughs in this technology when it comes to batteries etc. I sometimes think the geniuses at places like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook etc. should get together with the Environmental Engineers and design firms to really tackle this issue and see what we can come up with. If we can create things like iphones, mac books, etc. that have long battery lives, surely we could do something for renewable energy. It is all about getting our priorities straight.

  4. We also have hydroelectric where we live. It is greener than some but not 100% clean. There is a lot of eco system damage that results.

    You do have some choice in the sense that you can install and utilize other sources if you wanted. Think solar panels…etc.

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